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Banquet microwave dinners get country-fied

BY Jenna Duncan

OMAHA, Neb. ConAgra has announced that it will put a significant amount of marketing dollars behind its Banquet brand of frozen dinners. The advertising blast begins this week with a brand-new voice boasting the brand’s merits—that of country music star Lee Ann Womack.

ConAgra said it is pushing Banquet’s line of healthy frozen meal options, Banquet Select Recipes, which come in seven varieties including an enchilada combo meal and chicken parmesan dinner. These dinners retail for $1.50 each.

The company has also said that the new push is in response to declining numbers for the Banquet brand, a brand name company officials admit has not been advertised much in about a decade. Part of the company’s plan to revamp the image of the Banquet line is to give it a makeover to appeal to its country-music-loving-mom core demographic.

According to numbers from Nielsen Monitor-Plus, ConAgra has spent $200,000 on marketing its Banquet brand in the first half of 2008 compared to about $6 million spent on the brand last year.

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Winn-Dixie completes 100th store remodel

BY Michael Johnsen

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. Less than 18 months after announcing a major remodel initiative for all of its 521 stores, Winn-Dixie Stores, on Thursday announced the completion of remodel No. 100.

The newest remodeled store, in the Miami suburb of Hialeah, is celebrating its grand opening today.

The Hialeah store showcases the company’s fresh and local strategic initiative—an updated storefront, combined with expanded produce and floral departments. The store’s deli and bakery were upgraded with a wood-burning rotisserie and bread warmer, a wing bar, an olive bar and a specialty dessert case. The store also features new energy-efficient refrigerators and frozen food cases as well as new wood flooring and a contemporary color palette.

“This is not only a milestone for our Company, but it also symbolizes the hard work and dedication of our associates and the loyalty of our customers,” stated Peter Lynch, Winn-Dixie’s chairman, chief executive officer and president. “It’s all about being fresh and local—from our decor to our merchandising and marketing initiatives, we are tailoring every detail of our remodeled stores to meet the needs of neighborhoods we serve. As the remodel program moves forward, we will have a significantly stronger store base from which to compete and leverage the strength of our brand. We plan to remodel half the chain by June 2010.”

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Longs to carry GE digital cameras

BY Michael Johnsen

TORRANCE, Calif. Already distributed through Walgreens, General Imaging, the worldwide exclusive licensee for GE digital cameras, may be getting a foot in the door with CVS with Thursday’s announcement that its retail camera line is to be picked up by Longs Drug beginning in October.

Under the agreement, Longs stores will stock three models—the A730 Black, the A835 Black and the A1030 Red.

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