Food Lion recently finished a massive renovation of all of its regional stores adding a new look and new products to its shelves.

The grocer made a more than $91 million investment across 63 stores in Southwest Virginia and hired about 2,000 additional employees in the last year, the company confirmed this week. 

"Roanoke is very special to Food Lion," said Food Lion President Meg Ham. "We've been part of the fabric of this community for 40 years opening our first store in Martinvsille, Virginia. A lot has changed since we opened our first store in this market."

Ham was in Roanoke this week and gave tours of the newly renovated store on Bennington Street in Garden City. That store has a brand new walk-in cooler where the store's produce is kept. It was the only store in Roanoke to have that feature, but other renovations were added in the other stores. Changes to the stores included new checkout counters, expanded variety and assortment of locally sourced items, including craft beer, limited reserve wines and more natural, organic and gluten-free items. A greater selection of large family meals, pre-sliced deli meats and cheeses and grab-and-go foods was also added to cater to shopping trends. Fully remodeled stores feature new signs, store layout and product groupings. 

Much of the process began more than a year ago and customers may have noticed the changes over time in Food Lion stores. Ham said the changes came after the company researched how to make the stores more customer-centric. The changes are designed to make the shopping experience fast, something customers said they desired, Ham said. The company has also hired and trained new associates to interact more with customers.

Food Lion, which is headquartered in Salisbury, North Carolina, has more than 1,000 stores in 10 states and the renovations are part of larger roll-out of changes. It has more than a dozen Roanoke Valley locations and is one of the largest grocery chains in the region, second only to Kroger. In Roanoke, the grocery market has gotten more competitive with boutique grocer Earth Fare opening last year and Aldi before that. Many of the renovations at Food Lion are catering to larger grocery shopping trends in the country, where natural, healthy foods and locally sourced foods have become more popular. 

On Tuesday, the company also announced that it had partnered with Feeding America of Southwest Virginia and the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank by donating a mobile food truck to each of them as well as monetary donations.

Tiffany Holland is the reporter covering retail and real estate. She is Roanoke-famous for her retail blog, The Storefront, and spends an inordinate amount of time talking to people about Trader Joe’s.