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This is Fred Ball for Zions Bank, speaking on business.
During the last few months, five Fred Meyer stores along the Wasatch Front underwent an $8 million renovation and were transformed into Smith's Marketplace stores.
The Marketplace stores provide a shopping alternative to the 41-food and drug stores operated by Smith's in Utah. The new concept has expanded grocery, frozen foods and bakery departments, which creates a complete Smith's grocery store, combined with household décor, family clothing merchandise and a garden center. These stores deliver the grocery expertise of Smith's and the general merchandise expertise of Fred Meyer stores.
Smith's took over management of the 1,200 former Fred Meyer employees. Smith's was able to relocate nearly every employee from the closed Ogden and West Valley Fred Meyer stores.
These new store employees bring additional enthusiasm for Smith's community involvement, by helping in events such as the Race for the Cure, The March of Dimes and the Utah Food Bank. When customers make purchases with a Fresh Values card at Marketplace stores, they earn Smith's Fuel Center discounts, and Smith's contributes a portion of the spending toward the "Earn & Learn" school program. This program has already generated more than $6 million for local schools since it was started.
Smith's and Fred Meyer are divisions of the Kroger Company, one of the nation's largest grocery retailers. Utah is the second Kroger market area to create a Marketplace shopping destination, following Phoenix. Smith's currently operates 128 stores in seven Western states from its offices in Salt Lake City, and the company sees this marketplace format as one that may well provide expansion opportunities for the future.
For Zions Bank, I'm Fred Ball. I'm speaking on business.