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Bradford Gets New Grocery Store

Bradford, Vt. — Big city grocery shopping arrived in town yesterday when Hannaford Supermarkets quietly opened its new energy-efficient store, featuring three times the space of the old building, a bakery, deli, butcher shop, fish market and a full pharmacy.

The 35,000-square-foot facility is not as large as the 47,000-square-foot Hannaford in West Lebanon, but it features a different layout that gives it appearance and feel of the bigger store.

“I think people are really going to be surprised about how large this store is compared to the old store,” said Robert Molinario, who has been the store manger in Bradford since April 2010 when Hannaford took over the closed 13,000-square-foot P&C Supermarket.

“There’s really nothing like this in a radius of 25 miles,” he said, adding that Hannaford expecting to draw on the customer base in the surrounding New Hampshire and Vermont border towns.

“We’re hoping that people will realize that we offer what they can find elsewhere (in the Lebanon-Hanover area), and they’ll shop closer to home. We’re one-stop shopping.”

Selectboard Chairman Ted Unkles said he believes the new Hannaford will be a major step toward Bradford becoming more of a shopping destination.

A key factor is last year’s completion of a $2.8 million Lower Plain sewer extension, which has opened the southern part of town for other retail businesses in addition to the new supermarket near the intersection of routes 5 and 25, Unkles said.

Before the economic downturn, there were plans to develop a shopping plaza south of town with four or five new stores and to expand the industrial park in the same area. Late last year, a new Family Dollar store opened south of town, and Farm-Way Inc., on Route 25, has continued to draw customers from outside of the area, he said.

In addition, Copeland Furniture’s retail store and a number of restaurants in Bradford broaden the town’s destination appeal.

“I can’t say enough about how wonderful Hannaford has been to work with,” Unkles said. “It would have been much easier for them to close the old store and tear it down before they built the new store, but they listened to what people wanted and kept it open,” he said.

Closing the old P&C store would have left Bradford without a major grocery store in the immediate area and would have been an inconvenience for residents, Unkles said.

One store that has remained open in town for the last 32 years is the South End Market at 45 S. Main St. The well-stocked store sells a variety of organic and natural products, vitamins, supplements, fresh local produce, eggs, dairy and bulk herbs and spices in a small one-room space.

Although Hannaford will sell an expanded line of organic and natural products — about 3,000 — the new store probably won’t have a negative effect on the business at the South End Market, said Peter Emerson, who bought the business in January.

“We have a loyal customer base who will continue to shop with us, and we try to not carry the same sorts of things that you can buy at Hannaford. We can’t compete with them on price so we carry things that aren’t available in bigger stores,” Emerson said.

“It’s nice to have a bigger store in town. It offers us a greater variety,” he said, adding that he and his family shop at Hannaford.

The new Hannaford also is environmentally friendly and energy efficient with an advanced refrigeration system that helps heat the building, no-ice seafood cooling that saves water, special lighting and solar reflective roofing and windows. The building has been certified by the Green Building Council, Molinario said.

The new Bradford store is part of Hannaford’s expansion into the Upper Valley. In addition to West Lebanon, the Scarborough, Maine-headquartered chain also has stores in New London and Claremont.

There are 17 Hannafords in Vermont and 33 in New Hampshire.

Hannaford Bros. Co. was started in Portland, Maine, in 1883 by Arthur Hannaford. Since 2000, the chain, which has 181 stores in New England and upstate New York, has been part the American division of the Brussels-based global food retailer, Delhaize Group.

In the United States, Delhaize has 1,553 stores in 18 states along the East Coast, from Maine to Florida, and in the South, employing 104,613 workers.

Hannaford has more than 26,000 employees. The new Bradford store has gone from 48 employees in the old store to at least 85 full- and part-time workers in the new facility, Molinario said.

The U.S. division of Delhaize had revenue of $18.8 billion last year or about 64 percent of the company’s gross revenue. The chain’s U.S. stores include Food Lion and Sweetbay Supermarket, which sells Hannaford products in Florida, according to the company’s 2012 annual report.

Delhaize trades under the symbol DEG on the New York Stock Exchange. Last week, the stock was trading up in the $62 range nearing its 52-week high of $67.60 with an average three-month volume of about 56,000 shares.

On Friday evening, Hannaford closed the old store and opened the new facility yesterday morning, making the transition with shelves filled with new products, Molinario said. “The only thing that we have to transfer from the old store is the beer and wine. The law requires us to do that.” Canned goods and other non-perishable products are being shipped to other stores in the chain.

All of the old store’s perishable items, such as meat dairy and produce — with an estimated value of $20,000 — were given to the Vermont Food Bank on Friday night, Molinario said.

Irregular parking will continue at the store until the old store is demolished and the parking lot completed, something Molinario hoped would happen by September. A grand opening will be held after the parking lot is finished.

The store will be open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sundays.

Warren Johnston can be reached at wjohnston@vnews.com or 603-727-3216.

CORRECTION

This article has been amended to correct an earlier error. Robert Molinario is the manager of Hannaford store in Bradfrod, Vt. His last name was misspelled in an earlier version of this article.