Spartan balances expansion


    Spartan Stores Inc. intends to expand a customer loyalty program that offers discounts, introduce in-store information about nutrition, remodel five stores and add six fuel centers in fiscal year 2010, CEO Dennis Eidson told shareholders at the annual meeting last week.

    As Michigan continues to struggle with unemployment and the aftermath of the Chrysler and GM bankruptcies, the Byron Center company also is working to boost its business in Indiana and Ohio.

    “We’ve been devoting a little more time south of the border these days,” Eidson said. “We think our offer will resonate in Indiana and Ohio, and we look forward to building our business there. Our balance sheet is healthy. We’re looking for opportunities for acquisitions in either segment.”

    The company has $110 million available for borrowing, CFO David Staples reported.

    Consumers continue to clamp down on spending, opting for cheaper private label goods and tempering their total bills, he said. Deflation in dairy and produce also is challenging sales, Eidson said.

    Spartan plans to a $6.5 million capital expenditure at the VG’s chain it acquired last year. Quick Stop Fuel Centers are being added in Howell and Waterford, and Starbucks outlets have been placed in stores in Davison and Fenton.

    However, Eidson’s presentation did not disclose 2010’s plan for previously announced local new stores in Grand Rapids and Wyoming.

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