SOURCE: CBX

October 05, 2009 09:30 ET

CBX Designs New Supermarket Prototype for Freson Bros., a Family-Owned Canadian Chain

New Ground-Up Design Opens in Manning, Alberta, Additional Units to Follow

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - October 5, 2009) - CBX, the strategic branding, retail design, and consultancy agency based here, has designed an old-world inspired prototype for Freson Market Ltd., a privately held, supermarket chain with 15 units throughout the Canadian province of Alberta. The family-owned and operated company, known for good value, customer service and community involvement, is based in Peace River, a city located in the Northwest corner of Alberta.

CBX developed the exterior and interior design, store layout, and all graphics -- including a striking new logo -- for the ground-up Manning, Alberta, store. The new 17,000-square-foot building on First Avenue North replaces the original 6,000-square-foot Freson store across the street, which opened in 1978. The new store organizes specialty perimeter departments around a well merchandised, amply lit and easy-to-navigate grocery core.

As part of its ongoing store renewal and expansion program, Freson retained CBX last year to initially handle the remodeling and expansion of an existing unit in Fairview. In addition, the firm is currently working on a handful of other existing locations to incorporate some of the new design elements in an attempt to unify the look and feel of the entire Freson network.

Founded as a butcher shop in 1955 by Frank Lovsin and two partners in Hinton, Alberta, the Freson name came from a combination of the founders' initials. In 1956, the partners added groceries and continued to steadily expand the retailer's services. A second location opened in 1962 and by 1964, a third store managed by Dan Lovsin, Frank's brother, debuted in Fairview, Alberta. Currently, many members of the extended Lovsin family and descendents of long-time employees continue to actively operate Freson Market stores under the IGA banner.

Through acquisition and organic growth, Freson developed a portfolio of stores representing a variety of configurations and sizes. The company's largest store to date is approximately 52,000 square feet -- 20 times the size of the original 900-square-foot butcher shop. Over time, the chain added services and departments such as pharmacy (in select stores), movie rental, photofinishing, and hunting and fishing licenses -- much in demand in this sparsely populated Canadian province. The stores are also known for Freson's signature Wall of Values and such service departments as an on-premise scratch bakery, a butcher-tended meat section featuring Alberta-raised beef, and convenient cafes.

Though located mainly in rural Alberta towns, Freson stores are increasingly facing competition from larger chains and multi-nationals, explained Joseph Bona, president of CBX's retail division. "But from a strategic standpoint, none of Freson's competitors could touch the Lovsin family's history in the markets they serve," he said. "That became a significant point of differentiation we sought to highlight. What's interesting is that Frank Lovsin actually worked in many of the Freson stores, establishing a personal relationship with community members and knowing many of his customers on a first-name basis. Our objective was to capitalize on that heritage by making sure customers could sense the family's presence in their local store."

The design achieved that goal in several ways. First, the revamped logo, which debuts on the Manning store exterior, is graphically powerful, but includes subtle tweaks. The words "Freson Bros." replace the "Freson Market" found on the previous Manning store exterior. The former blue and red logo has given way to a deep burgundy field where custom sans serif type spells out Freson Bros. "The new, larger mark is topped with a stylized black bow tie, again a subtle reference to earlier times when shoppers knew and trusted their local purveyors," said Nancy Brown, Managing Partner of CBX's Minneapolis office, which designed the logo.

An added tagline, which reads: "Serving the community proudly since 1955," is rendered in a Spencerian script-like hand. "These graphic assets were conceived to subliminally reinforce Freson's 54-year family connection with the communities it serves," Brown explained.

During the design project's research phase, the CBX team found vintage photos of early Freson locations -- prominently hung at the company's Peace River headquarters -- which provided a source of inspiration for the in-store graphics program. Photos documenting earlier stores and the folks who worked there were super-sized and sepia-toned for use in key areas. For example, inside the front entrance, an informal photo of the Lovsin family and co-workers (circa early 1960s) was enlarged to life-size to greet customers as they reach for a shopping cart.

The new logo's rich burgundy color continues inside the store on both focal and accent walls. Freson's signature color is complemented in the produce department by warm woods found in loose tables and barrel-style fixtures and in an open ceiling truss system. Here, suspended dome lighting fixtures focus light on mounded displays of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Continuing around the store's perimeter, department signage applied to soffitts and walls is designed to recall earlier times with a hand-painted, gold-leaf embellished look. Other solid-looking materials such as the brick used in the deli department further suggest personalized permanence. Underfoot, shoppers will notice the light-toned ceramic floor tile, a practical solution to the harsh winter months that define the Alberta province, but an element that suggests permanence and quality.

Freson's emphasis on 'old world' service, meanwhile, is front and center in several departments. In meats, for example, trained butchers constantly stock front cases as well as handle custom orders from a cutting room -- with a sliver window giving customers a slice of the action. Freson shoppers can also watch trained bakers create made-from-scratch confections such as breads, cakes and cookies as they inhale the mouth-watering baked goods smells wafting throughout.

"The end result," Bona explained, "is an authentic rustic marketplace channeling the personalized service and community involvement of the Lovsin family."

Amplifying on that involvement, Ralph Sloan, CBX Senior Partner-Retail, noted: "From our visits to their markets, it became clear that the Lovsin family is deeply involved with the communities it serves. However, in keeping with their humble persona, the family prefers to keep a low profile about its numerous and generous donations." In the past 55 years, the family has contributed to local charities and institutions such as the Peace River hospital as well as organizations benefiting children's sports. In recognition of his contributions as a volunteer and philanthropist, CEO and Founder Frank Lovsin was recently made a Member of the Order of Canada.

Commenting on the new design, Doug Lovsin, Freson Market's VP-Operations, said: "Right from our initial meeting, we have been extremely pleased with the work that CBX has provided. The firm's branding team delivered a logo that expressed exactly who we are, while its retail design team brought the brand to life in our stores."

About Freson Market, Ltd.

Freson Market Ltd. is the largest single-owned chain of IGA grocery stores in the province of Alberta. The company currently operates 15 stores while employing more than 950 full-time and part-time staff across Alberta. With a tradition deeply rooted in family and community, the Freson Market family brand has been proudly serving Alberta since 1955. Since its humble beginnings, Freson Market has been committed to fresh food, fresh value and top-notch customer service.

About CBX

CBX is a fully integrated creative agency specializing in retail design and operations, brand and corporate identity development, packaging, research, and motion branding. The company maintains offices in New York City, Minneapolis and San Francisco.

NOTE TO EDITORS: High resolution photos are available from Parness & Associates.