Cub Foods opens first urban-format store this week — but will there be another? Image

Cub Foods opens first urban-format store this week — but will there be another?

Cub Foods this week opens its first small-scale store in Minneapolis, a concept tailored for urban neighborhoods and with a focus on prepared foods and quick-service items.

The Star Tribune reports on the last-minute preparations for the new store, which is opening on the ground floor of a mixed-use development by Oppidan Investment Co. at 46th Street and Hiawatha Avenue in south Minneapolis.

At 46,000 square feet, it's a bit more than half the size of a typical Cub Food grocery store. It also features fewer typical grocery shelf items with more space given over to grab-and-go stations, a deli counter and popcorn bar. It also has a kombucha tap — a first for a Cub Foods.

The Business Journal reported on Cub's plans for the store in early 2018. The urban-size store is Supervalu's first new Cub since it opened a Blaine South location in December 2016. The Eden Prairie-based grocery distributor and retailer had recently focused on revamping its Cub stores to better compete with newer entrants to the market like Hy-Vee Inc. and Fresh Thyme.

Cub Foods' former parent, Supervalu Inc., had intended the concept to be a test for a small-scale concept that could work in denser neighborhoods. But Supervalu isn't around anymore — it was bought last summer by Providence, R.I.-based United Natural Foods Inc. (NASDAQ: UNFI), a grocery store distributor that has said it's not interested in running a retail business.

UNFI is looking to sell Cub — which has nearly 80 stores in Minnesota and remains the single-biggest grocery store player in the market — along with a handful of other retail properties that Supervalu owned. So the future of the small-format Cub could depend greatly on who eventually buys the chain.

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