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Sprouts To Open Natural Foods Market In North Fresno In New Year

With a name like Sprouts, it is not surprising this natural foods supermarket chain is on the grow. Arizona-based Sprouts Farmers Market – an organic and natural foods supermarket who competes with Whole Foods – will open a new 35,000 sf store in North Fresno by May.

Sprouts has nearly 150 locations and 11,000 employees in the West and earlier this year acquired the 36-store Sunflower Farmers Market chain.
Interviewed this week company CEO Doug Sanders says the currently vacant Fresno property at 7477 N Blackstone will be leased.The new store will employ around 85. An employment fair will be announced. All their stores are non-union.

More To Come?

“We will see how it goes but I would not be surprised if we added another store in this marketplace” down the line.
Besides Fresno, Sanders confirms there is interest in locating a store in Visalia as well. ”We’ve looked in Visalia.” About half the chain’s stores are located in California with most in southern California.The company distribution center is in Riverside.

Sprouts was founded by the Henry Boney Family who also launched Henry’s Markets in LA – now part of Sprouts. Sunflower, acquired in March, had a similar marketing approach that emphasizes fresh produce says Sanders.
“Unlike most grocery stores our produce section is in the middle of the store. It’s the Farmer’s Market approach” and “it’s what we hang our hat on.”

Asked about Sprout’s comparison to Whole Foods – Sanders says Sprouts aims to compete with traditional grocery stores on produce prices that are typically “20 to 25% less expensive than a “ Vons or Ralphs, he claims.”We are more value added than Whole Foods, says Sanders, “appealing to a broader group.”

On-line some have done an item-by-item shopping comparison for typical products and Sprouts appears to cheaper – on 1/2 gallon of Silk Soy Milk for example, for $3.69 vs $4.29 at an LA Whole Foods location.
Sanders says Whole Foods does more food service items than Sprouts.

Broadening The Market

The company CEO says the organic grocery marketplace has come a long way in the past ten years  – now with “more affordable products along with better quality.” Some former unknown brand names are now household favorites like like Kashi,Organic Farms and Annies. These companies have helped increase the quality of food items as well as providing the scale and competition to lower prices.

The shopper too has changed,he adds, from a small cadre of true believers who demand organic to a wide variety of shoppers who want to have a healthier diet. A large group these days are “trial buyers” who are experimenting, he suggests.

A major stakeholder in the private company is publicly traded Apollo Global Management who also has equity interest in Smart and Final,Ralphs,CKE Restaurants and Claire’s Stores – among others.The Henry Boney Family remains active in the management of Sprouts.

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