If it looks like a hypermarket and quacks like a hypermarket, that is probably exactly what it is.
But developers of a newly announced project in Anne Arundel County are avoiding the retail term for the region's first incarnation of a mammoth store where customers can buy all their basic food, non-food and apparel items under one roof. Attempts to run profitable hypermarkets in other U.S. markets have largely failed.
Instead, the 130,000-square-foot, $10 million Leedmark, now being built in Glen Burnie, is being called a "one-stop shopping hybrid-market" by New Eldis Corp., the company that yesterday announced the start of construction on the store.
New Eldis is a U.S. company, though Leedmark is a trademark and retailing philosophy of the E. LeClerc Group in France, which is a major developer of hypermarkets in Europe, where they thrive. LeClerc stores there are considered upscale among hyperstores.
The concept of an enormous store serving all of a shopper's retail needs has not been as successful in the United States.
Lackluster performances have been recorded by Carrefour in Philadelphia, Atlanta's American Fare and Auchan's in Chicago. One of the few hypermarkets considered successful is Cincinnati's Bigg's.
Analysts say the strength of supermarkets and discount store chains in the United States is the prime reason for the inability of hypermarkets to find a niche.
But New Eldis officials call their attempt a new retailing concept, designed just for the United States.
"Our goal is to customize the concept of one-stop shopping for the American marketplace, and we anticipate a favorable reaction from consumers when we open our doors to the public next year," Didier Leconte, New Eldis's chairman and CEO, said in a prepared statement.
Construction on the store is expected to be completed in nine months.
The store will feature a playroom for customers' children, concession outlets and other service facilities.