Grocery chain plans to expand in the Twin Cities

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The competitive battle for metro area grocery dollars will tighten up as the Hy-Vee chain makes a new play for shoppers.

The Star Tribune reports that the Des Moines-based supermarket company is planning to open several outlets in the Twin Cities in the coming years. The company will both redevelop existing buildings and construct entirely new stores. Each store will be approximately 90,000 square feet, with an initial investment of roughly $14 million to $16 million.

A site in New Hope will likely be among the first to be developed. The Business Journal reports that Hy-Vee will present its plans to the City Council there on Monday night. The store would be part of a broader redevelopment proposed on the site of a former Kmart store across the street from New Hope City Hall.

The company's website says that Hy-Vee ranks among the top 25 supermarket chains and the top 50 private companies in the United States. Its 235 stores are located in eight Midwestern states, including Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Currently, Hy-Vee operates 17 Minnesota groceries, all located in the southern part of the state. According to research from the Business Journal, Hy-Vee employs nearly 5,100 in Minnesota, making it the state's 33rd largest employer.

The Star Tribune notes that there are already a lot of grocery carts for Twin Cities grocery shoppers to choose from, with a strong presence by Cub Foods and new competition from grocery departments at discounters Wal-Mart and Target. Lunds and Byerly’s and Kowalski's have staked out the higher-end clientele, and Whole Foods is in the midst of a metro expansion. Earlier this year, Rainbow Foods announced that it is closing two supermarkets in the Twin Cities.

Last week, the Des Moines Register reported that Hy-Vee announced plans to purchase Amber Pharmacy, a Nebraska-based specialty pharmacy solutions company. Amber Pharmacy has locations in Omaha, Chicago, Dallas and Philadelphia.

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