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    First Giant Eagle Express Debuts

    New store concept features convenience and gas products, along with grocery items.

    HARMAR, Pa. -- Giant Eagle Inc.'s latest concept -- Giant Eagle Express -- opened Friday, causing a stir from industry experts in convenience, drug and grocery channels.

    The store, meant to offer the best of the three channels, is located on 2661 Freeport Road, and offers the company's GetGo gasoline pumps and convenience products, a photo developer, a DVD rental kiosk, fresh meats and produce, prepared foods, a deli, bakery and a drive-thru pharmacy -- all in 14,000 square feet, reported the Tribune-Review.

    Giant Eagle Express is a "neighborhood grocery store," according to the company. Giant Eagle Express fills in the gap between its 80,000- to 90,000-square-foot grocery store and its 1,700- to 4,500-square-foot GetGo convenience stores. The Express concept will offer low prices like its bigger brother, company spokesman Dick Roberts told the paper. It will also stay open 24 hours a day.

    "Giant Eagle Express is the contemporary neighborhood grocery store that provides fresh, convenient and affordable groceries and meal solutions to customers with on-the-go lifestyles," Brett Merrell, Giant Eagle's marketing vice president, said in a statement.

    Grocery industry consultants approved of the concept, noting that is focus on fresh items is similar to the plans announced by Tesco, Britain's largest grocer, which is launching its Fresh & Easy concept on the West Coast later this year, the report stated.

    "It's a brilliant, strategic initiative by Giant Eagle," Burt Flickinger III, managing director of New York-based Strategic Resource Group, told the Review. "It's a great roadblock, to the deep discounters like Wal-Mart and Target, to pharmacies like Rite-Aid, Walgreen and CVS, and to other supermarkets. It also pre-empts Sheetz from doing this."

    "People are aware there is a place between the evolving supermarket and the evolving conveniences store," Willard Bishop, a Barrington, Ill.-based industry consultant, told the paper. "Our lifestyle is driving us toward more fresh food and more prepared foods."

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