« May 2009 Table of Contents
What's in Store: Sales in full blossom
Recipe kiosks, 'less is more' attitude drive Bloom's seafood department success
By Christine Blank
May 01, 2009
Fresh seafood sales are growing at the 64-store Bloom chain,
as consumers learn to prepare restaurant-quality foods at home.
The chain is fueling this restaurant-at-home trend with recipe
kiosks located throughout its stores and hiring staff who are
knowledgeable about seafood preparation.
Bloom, with stores that have an upscale feel and
fresh-product focus, is a banner of Food Lion LLC in Salisbury,
N.C., owned by the Delhaize Group in Brussels, Belgium. This
year, Bloom opened three new stores in Leesburg and Quinton,
Va., and Mooresville, N.C., to add to its locations throughout
South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia and Maryland.
In the new stores, Bloom maintained its prototype seafood
merchandising area, which consists of a live lobster tank, two
5-foot service areas that include finfish and shellfish
offerings along with packaged items such as spreads; a 4-foot
packaged products case; and a 12-foot frozen section. Most of
its stores devote around 325 square feet to seafood, which
includes the front sales area and back room prep area.
Bloom's seafood department sales are higher than last year
because people are not eating out as often, says Cecil Smith,
manager of seafood merchandising and training for Bloom.
"This year, we are experiencing a greater interest in fresh
seafood typically found on restaurant menus. Consumers are much
more willing to try their hand in the kitchen and on the grill
this year," says Smith.
To that end, customers are
utilizing Bloom's "Shop to Cook"
recipe kiosks where customers can scan their seafood purchase,
and the kiosk will print appropriate recipes. In addition,
Bloom stresses consumer education in training to associates, so
they are able to offer recipes and cooking tips to
"We provide various tools to help our guests improve their
cooking confidence, such as stand-alone, staffed departments
with knowledgeable associates and complimentary services like
steaming, six marinades to pick from, and easy-to-print
recipes," says Smith.
Bloom provides complimentary marinades for any finfish or
shellfish purchased in its sea-
While Bloom's atmosphere may feel like an upscale market,
the retailer remains competitive in pricing.
"Quality and value are very important to our consumers, and
we strive to deliver region-specific variety at excellent
To that end, Bloom focuses on offering large quantities of a
short list of popular fresh items, rather than trying to be
everything to everyone.
"We have a 'less is more' approach to merchandising that
allows us to deliver larger displays of fewer items at
compelling retail prices," says Smith. For example, in late
March Bloom promoted sockeye salmon fillets for $7.99 a pound
and fresh catfish fillets for $6.99 a pound. Its loyalty
cardholders received an extra $1 off per pound.
Bloom's top-sellers include: salmon fillets and steaks,
tilapia, cut-to-order tuna steaks, catfish, shrimp, snow crab
clusters, king crab legs and scallops. Meanwhile, frozen shrimp
and IQF tilapia, tuna, salmon, flounder and catfish fillets are
the most popular items in Bloom's frozen seafood cases, likely
because those items are also popular on restaurant menus, says
Bloom's increase in seafood sales can also be attributed to
new prepared items launched this year. The regional-themed
items include Maryland-style crab cakes, stuffed clams, Devil
Stuffed Crab (which is crabmeat stuffing, similar to a crab
cake, stuffed inside a crab shell) and salmon burgers.
"We revamped and improved the items we previously offered
with fresh, never-frozen, hand-made items," says Smith.
Prepared foods supplier Fresher than Fresh
of Gastonia, N.C.,
focuses on quality ingredients and regional flair. "For
example, the crab cakes contain more than 80 percent fresh,
quality crabmeat," says Smith. Crab cakes are also Bloom's top
seller of its prepared items [see Crab Cake Spotlight, p.
Consistent promotion has also boosted Bloom's seafood sales.
In its weekly circular, the retailer features a "wide
assortment" of both prepared and fresh seafood that customers
can broil, bake or grill, says Smith. Special promotions add to
the steady advertising and include a "Super Salmon Sale," which
offers whole farmed salmon cut to order. In another promotion,
dubbed "Ex Crab Aganza," Bloom grouped snow crab and king crab,
along with packaged crabmeat, and other related items in a
joint marketing effort.
Offering a variety of seafood during the Lenten season also
has been successful.
"We like to offer a wide variety of meal options, such as
mussels to accompany Italian dishes, to main course items like
salmon, shrimp and tilapia. We feature at least one item on the
front page of our weekly sales flier during this time of year
and throughout the summer," says Smith.
Contributing Editor Christine Blank lives in Lake Mary,