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The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Safeway-owned Genuardi’s is closing its Lansdale, Pennsylvania, store next weekend, saying that the unit was underperforming.

Richard George, a professor of food marketing at St. Joseph's University, says that the bigger problem for Genuardi’s is that Philadelphia is overstored, with too many formats selling food.

According to the story, “With the latest closing, Genuardi's now has 31 supermarkets in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, down from 39 when monster food company Safeway Inc. bought the chain from the family of founder Gaspare Genuardi and his wife, Josephine, in 2001 ... Lately, it seems as if every month brings a new Genuardi's closing.

“Last spring, the Voorhees store went out of business, followed by one in the Edgemont Square Shopping Center in Newtown Square in July and two in August - in Tredyffrin's Chesterbrook community and the Glen Eagle Shopping Center in Concord.”
KC's View:
One of the things that Rich George quite correctly points out to the Inquirer is that it is hard for middle-of-the-road retailers such as Genuardi’s to compete with the successful grocers at either end of the scale, from Wegmans and Trader Joe’s at one end to Walmart and Save-A-Lot on the other.

As we like to say around here at MNB World Headquarters, “The mainstream is where you go to drown, and the middle of the road is where you find roadkill.”

There may be room for only one mainstream supermarket brand in a marketplace, and in the Philly area, it appears that ShopRite has successfully claimed that position.

However, the Inquirer points out that there is an irony to Genuardi’s being described as a middle-of-the-road supermarket brand, since it was not that long ago that it was an upmarket chain with a strong focus on fresh foods. Critics suggest that Safeway did not nurture this positioning enough, and the brand lost much of its considerable equity. (Though, to be fair, five of the closings have come since the economic downturn that has hurt so many upmarket stores...)