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Grocery wars While Prince George County officials and residents may have welcomed the announcement this week of Wegmans Food Markets coming to Landover, grocers including Giant Food and Safeway are girding for another heavyweight in the region supermarket wars. of Annapolis to anchor its million, 245 acre Woodmore Towne Centre at Glenarden in Landover. The high profile announcement of the deal Thursday in Upper Marlboro featured Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R), Prince George County Executive Jack B. Johnson (D), Wegmans and Petrie Ross officials, and other county business and government leaders. The news came the same week that Wegmans, known as one of the nation tonier grocery chains, announced plans for a store in Anne Arundel County. Last month, Wegmans signed a lease with Greenberg Gibbons Commercial Corp. and BBSS Inc. to build a 140,000 square foot store at the Waugh Chapel Village South in Anne Arundel. That store is expected to open in 2009. Wegmans first store in Maryland, in Hunt Valley, opened last year. Economist Anirban Basu, CEO of the Sage Policy Group Inc. in Baltimore, said the Hunt Valley store has helped the area as a regional retail center. evidence suggests that residents moved to Hunt Valley because of Wegmans, Basu said. has created a buzz and an energy in Hunt Valley, and I wouldn be surprised if that same energy occurs in Prince George County. W. Metzger, publisher of Food World, a Columbia trade publication, agreed, saying that Wegmans arrival signals an boon for Prince George the nation most affluent majority black county, with 850,000 residents. like a more upscale area, Metzger said of Wegmans. no question that Prince George County is growing. in 1916, Wegmans, with more than 35,000 employees, posted billion in annual sales last year. The company owns and operates 70 stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia and Maryland. This year, Fortune magazine named Wegmans the second best place to work in the nation. It is one of the 100 largest privately held companies in America, according to Forbes magazine. Typically, high end grocers focus on selling organic and natural food items, according to a study by Delta Associates, a commercial real estate research firm. High end grocers such as Wegmans, Whole Foods Market and Harris Teeter enter the market based on demand, while grocers such as Safeway, Giant Food and Food Lion feeling the pressure from wavering profits, the report said. Wegmans a competitor 130,000 square foot Landover store, scheduled to open in late 2008, will have about 700 employees, said Ralph A. Uttaro, Wegmans senior vice president of real estate development. a very formidable competitor, said Craig M. Muckle, a spokesman for Safeway Inc., the Pleasanton, Calif., chain with regional headquarters in Lanham. very aware of what they doing, but at the end of the day, competition makes you better. which has a store near a Wegmans in Fairfax, Va., last year unveiled a line of stores that feature subdued lighting, organic foods and an emphasis on its own brand to help it compete against the likes of upscale grocers such as Wegmans. For example, the 130,000 square foot Wegmans store in Sterling, Va., which opened in 2004, features baby sitting for customers, plus a sushi bar and a coffee lounge that seats 200. Of Safeway 314 lifestyle stores, two are in Greenbelt and Clinton, Muckle said. The company plans to add at least 20 new locations and remodel 280 stores this year. It has 17 stores in Prince George Construction is under way on a lifestyle Safeway expected to open in the Hyattsville University Town Center in 2008. In addition, Safeway recently expanded its online grocery and delivery service into Prince George operates 1,775 stores in the United States and Canada and posted billion in revenue in its first quarter. have a battle plan to compete in the marketplace, Muckle said. used to competition. We not just competing against other grocery stores. We competing against any place that sells food. makes its moves The region top grocer is Giant Food LLC, which still has administrative offices in Landover and 22 stores in Prince George but its revenue and market share have slipped as competitors such as CVS and Wal Mart have gained ground. To bolster sales, Giant recently partnered with Starbucks Coffee to operate in its supermarkets. It also plans to open a prototype store in Bowie this summer that emphasizes prepared food in its meat and deli sections and has a larger pharmacy and produce department, said spokesman Barry F. Scher. Giant opened such a 64,760 square foot prototype store in Millville, Del., last month, according to company information. will continue to remain a very competitive company, Scher said. totally new concept was met with extremely high accolades. May, Giant shook up the county when it announced an exit from the food manufacturing business. In January, it also sold its 1.6 million square foot Landover campus to affiliates of privately held Preferred Real Estate Investments of Pennsylvania, which plans to rename the property and build an office park on the 104 acre site. Giant and Stop Shop Supermarket Co. of Quincy, Mass., also owned by Royal Ahold of the Netherlands, have been jointly managed since 2004. Also in 2004, almost 650 administrative jobs were moved from the Landover headquarters to locations outside of the area as part of the consolidation with Stop Shop. Giant posted sales of billion in sales in 2004, according to Hoover an online business information service. compete with so many grocery chains, Lowrance said. compete with a lot of different folks. Instead of focusing on competition, we focus on our customers. Lion began in February to renovate 24 stores in Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia. The renovated stores, scheduled for summer completion, will have more organic and natural products, Lowrance said. Without disclosing names, Walt Petrie, chairman of Petrie Ross Ventures, said he is in negotiations with other retailers to come to Woodmore. Officials are going to the International Council of Shopping Centers convention in Las Vegas this month, and will have further announcements 30 days of their return, Petrie said. Woodmore Towne Centre will have about 700,000 square feet of retail, 1 million square feet of office space, 922 residential units, two hotels and a conference center, according to Petrie Ross. The Wegmans announcement is the latest in a series of upscale developments in Prince George In late February, Gaylord Hotels announced it would add 500 rooms to its 1,500 room Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center at the National Harbor project along the Potomac. In mid April, the Peterson Cos. of Fairfax, Va., which is developing National Harbor, announced that five more hotel and timeshare chains were joining the project, bumping the total number of rooms to nearly 3,000. Arthur Turner, chairman of the Prince George Chamber of Commerce economic development committee, said Wegmans presence may prompt high end retailers the Nieman Marcus types some county residents have sought to give the county a second look.