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McClatchy-Tribune  07/05/2014 3:42 PM ET
Jamba Juice expansion plan includes Schnucks partnership [St. Louis Post-Dispatch :: ]

July 05--Less than a year after introducing Jamba Juice to the St. Louis market, franchisee Dave Peacock plans to open a "store-within-a-store" at a local Schnucks grocery, and he's eyeing Southern Illinois and several other Midwest states as new territories to expand the smoothie and fresh juice chain's footprint.

In October, Peacock's ShowMe Smoothie LLC investment group plans to open a 900-square-foot Jamba Juice inside the Schnucks on Big Bend Boulevard in Webster Groves, which is undergoing renovations, Peacock told the Post-Dispatch.

The new Jamba Juice will be slightly smaller than the store that Peacock's group opened at Ballpark Village in downtown St. Louis last month, and it'll be the first Jamba Juice inside a grocery store in Missouri. California-based Jamba Juice has stores inside Safeway grocery stores in its home state.

More Schnucks Jamba Juice stores and kiosks may be on the way, Peacock said. "We're looking at other locations," he said. Maryland Heights-based Schnuck Markets has 98 stores in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Iowa. Peacock's group plans to add smoothie classes at Schnucks stores.

Todd Schnuck, president and CEO of Schnuck Markets, said adding Jamba Juice was a natural extension of the grocery chain's recent expansion of healthy offerings such as gluten-free foods.

"If Jamba Juice is one more reason why someone might come into our store, it's a good thing," Schnuck said. "We fully anticipate that this is going to be a very successful addition, and we're looking to see where else it might make sense and in what format."

Since ShowMe Smoothie signed a franchise deal in 2013 to develop 15 Jamba Juice locations in Missouri and Kansas over nine years, four Jamba Juice stores have opened. Besides Ballpark Village, it operates stores at West County Center and in Creve Coeur. It also signed a sub-franchise agreement with another operator for a store that recently opened at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport.

"We're ahead of our schedule," Peacock said, adding he's opening a Jamba Juice in Columbia, Mo., next month and one soon in the central corridor of St. Louis County. "We'll have seven at the end of the year, and store density is important."

Peacock said having multiple stores would help overcome the unfamiliarity some might have with the brand and smoothie and squeezed-to-order juice shops, in general. Though Jamba Juice has more than 850 stores, the West County Center store that opened in September was its first in Missouri.

Peacock, a former president and marketing executive at Anheuser-Busch, became familiar with Jamba Juice smoothies while traveling for business. After he left A-B in 2012, Peacock teamed with sportscaster Joe Buck and Scott Highmark, a former basketball star at St. Louis University, as investors to form ShowMe Smoothie. The franchisee's management team includes Jerry Amsler, Michael Carr and Jeff Evenson.

ShowMe Smoothie's St. Louis area stores were among the first in the country to add Jamba Juice's expanded fresh squeezed fruit, made-to-order drinks with an ingredient list that includes kale, beets, cucumbers, apples and chia seeds.

"Jamba Juice is capitalizing on the macro trend of health," Peacock said.

While initially signing on to add Jamba Juice stores only in Missouri and Kansas, Peacock said he was in talks to expand into Southern Illinois and other Midwestern states. ShowMe Smoothie employs 50 people, which will double by the end of 2014, Peacock said.

Shoppers at area retailers are already familiar with the store-within-a-store concept. Minneapolis-based Target has expanded its store-within-a-store partnership with Starbucks over the past decade. There are now Starbucks locations in 1,281 Target stores nationwide, including 13 locally.

"We know this is an aspect of the Target shopping experience that our guests love," said spokeswoman Kristen Emmons, adding that 15 Target stores that opened this year have Starbucks inside.

Many grocery chains are making changes to stand out from competitors, including online outlets and big-box retailers such as Walmart and Target that offer groceries.

In a recent PricewaterhouseCoopers survey of 1,000 shoppers, 83 percent of survey respondents said they still prefer to shop at traditional grocery stores, but many grocers are looking at customizing stores to make them unique, said Mark Lohmann, partner with PwC's St. Louis office and retail and consumer leader for the Missouri market.

"I see the store-within-a-store concept ... as a play on differentiation," Lohmann said.

Jason Long, owner of Manchester-based retail consulting firm Shift Marketing Group, said stores-within-stores could help grocers attract customers outside of peak times. Locating in a grocery store with a long history can also help a vendor gain brand recognition.

"I think there's a halo effect," Long said. "It really amps up not just visibility, but brand strength."

Lisa Brown is a business reporter at the Post-Dispatch. Follow her on Twitter @LisaBrownSTL and the Business section @postdispatchbiz.


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