The plan

His­panic su­per­mar­ket opens its first Cen­tral Florida store Tues­day

Orlando Sentinel - - FRONT PAGE - By Kyle Arnold

to help save bank­rupt gro­cer Winn-Dixie has a name: Fresco y Mas.

Fresco y Mas will de­but in Cen­tral Florida on Tues­day, trans­form­ing a Winn-Dixie store into a His­panic su­per­mar­ket with vi­brant yel­low sig­nage, fresh-baked Cuban bread and a butcher slic­ing up spe­cial cuts of meat.

The store shows what the strug­gling su­per­mar­ket chain is do­ing to re­gain rel­e­vancy and emerge from more than a decade of fi­nan­cial woes. The Fresco y Mas re­brand was an­nounced as par­ent com­pany South­east­ern Gro­cers goes into bank­ruptcy — with plans to emerge in less than three months after eras­ing $500 mil­lion in debt and elim­i­nat­ing 94 un­der­per­form­ing stores, in­clud­ing three in the Or­lando area.

So what’s the plan to save the bank­rupt gro­cery com­pany? South­east­ern pres­i­dent and CEO An­thony Hucker said the strat­egy is to re­brand some stores un­der dif­fer­ent ban­ners such as Fresco y Mas to cater to spe­cific neigh­bor­hoods.

“We know that no one com­mu­nity or cus­tomer is the same and we have a lot of ban­ners, and we be­lieve in gro­cery stores that are catered to each com­mu­nity,” Hucker said. “The strat­egy at Fresco y Mas is re­ally sim­ple — we try to pro­vide them with a re­ally au­then­tic His­panic shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence that truly re­flects the spe­cific needs of the His­panic com­mu­ni­ties.”

South­east­ern Gro­cers al­ready in­tro­duced one of those dif­fer­ent ban­ners when it opened Har­vey’s in the Pine Hills neigh­bor­hood in 2017. It was a chain that has opened in lower-in­come neigh­bor­hoods through­out the chain. How­ever, the com­pany an­nounced that would be one of the un­der­per­form­ing stores slated to close.

More Winn-Dixie stores in Cen­tral Florida could be tar­geted for con­ver­sions, but Hucker de­clined to say which ones.

After the bank­ruptcy, South­east­ern Gro­cers will still have 582 stores un­der the Winn-Dixie, Har­vey’s, Bi-Lo and Fresco y Mas names.

The Fresco y Mas store slated to open at 7854 Curry Ford Road will sell pre-pack­aged goods and pro­duce cater­ing to His­panic cus­tomers and will also have a butcher, cafe, bak­ery and deli with fresh foods such as ar­roz con gan­d­ules, flan and pork tamales.

The con­cept boosted sales at its early stores after it opened in Hialeah in 2016, prompt­ing the com­pany to open its first Tampa-area store last week.

COUR­TESY OF SOUTH­EAST­ERN GRO­CERS

Cus­tomers shop for meat at a Fresco y Mas su­per­mar­ket that re­cently opened in Tampa. The gro­cery store comes Tues­day to Cen­tral Florida, mak­ing its de­but at 7854 Curry Ford Road. CEO An­thony Hucker said the chain’s strat­egy is to re­brand some stores...

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