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MINNEAPOLIS-Discount grocer Supervalu, the operator of the Save-A-Lot chain, is launching an organic foods concept called Sunflower Market. Company executives are planning for the first store to open January in Indianapolis.

After the initial opening, the company plans to roll the concept out to a few markets, said Jeff Noddle, Supervalu’s chairman and CEO, at an investor conference in New York City earlier this week. “Where we go from there, we’ll see,” he said.

The Indianapolis store will total 15,000 sf, and as units roll out, they will average between 12,000 sf and 15,000 sf. One investor asked Noddle about competition with long-time natural grocery operator Wild Oats, to which he replied, “This is a different proposition than Wild Oats.”

But Supervalu apparently won’t shy away from competitors like Wild Oats and Whole Foods. “I don’t think we would avoid a site because it has a Whole Foods nearby, but we’re not searching out sites that have Whole Foods,” says John Hooley, president of Supervalu’s corporate retail.

To catch up with Whole Foods and Wild Oats in terms of real estate, Supervalu has a lot of openings ahead of it. Whole Foods currently operates 171 stores across the country, while Wild Oats has 113. The retailers are generally in different markets.

Additionally, Supervalu executives updated expansion plans for its 1,285-store Save-A-Lot discount chain. They plan to open stores in Southwestern and Western markets where the retailer does not yet have a strong presence, including Arizona, California, Oregon and Washington. There will also be a push to put Save-A-Lot, which is primarily in rural areas, into more urban markets.

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