New England C-store Chain Increasing Fresh Food Offerings


SOUTH PARIS, Maine -- C.N. Brown doesn’t have a huge fresh food offering at its Big Apple Food Stores, but the company is trying to change that, according to general manager Chick Wilkins.

The retailer -- which owns and operates 78 c-stores in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts -- has entered into a franchise agreement with Amato’s, a New England chain of sandwich shops, and recently debuted its first location inside its Lancaster, N.H., store.

The Amato’s menu includes a breakfast line, sandwiches, pizza and more. The program has been up and running for three weeks and is already exceeding projections, Wilkins said. C.N. Brown plans to open its second Amato’s in-store franchise in Portsmouth, N.H., in three months.

"We like that it’s a well-known, established sandwich and pizza offering. They have a high-quality product and good pricing," he said. "This seems to be something people grab hold of."

While most of the chain’s c-stores now sell prepackaged sandwiches, fresh food is a category that C.N. Brown plans to put a lot of focus on this year. Two new Big Apple Food Stores are currently under construction and will offer fresh food when they open this spring.

One of the new builds will include an Amato’s franchise, while the other will become the second location to feature the chain’s proprietary deli, in addition to offering Chester’s chicken.

Aside from foodservice, Wilkins said value will continue to be a focal point for 2011, since consumers are still very conscientious of their spending. The retailer’s marketing team and category managers have been providing the stores with special pricing and value-added products.

"Their practice is to make price points that attract consumer attention, such as three-for-one and two-for-one pricing. We’re also looking for manufacturers with products that have coupon offers," Wilkins told CSNews Online. "These strategies seem to be working."

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