DIRECT: Safeway hires Newton 21 for launch task

Safeway has appointed direct marketing agency Newton 21 to handle a

January launch campaign that the retailer describes as "very big" and

"commercially sensitive."



The appointment follows a three-way pitch that pitted Newton 21 against

Storm and one other agency. Safeway has previously used Storm

exclusively for its DM work.



The retailer said in a statement: "We think it's right to have more than

one agency within our portfolio. The upcoming campaign is very big and

the appointment gives us the opportunity to spread the work load."



A Safeway spokeswoman said that the appointment was considered to be

initially on a project basis. However, she would not discuss the nature

of the project or the amount budgeted for it.



Safeway has refrained from heavy above-the-line spend since 1999.

Instead it has focused on store design and in-store promotions,

attempting to expand its share of the premium market by extending its

'The Best' food range and taking its store design upmarket.



As part of a nationwide store upgrade programme, it plans to open up to

40 Mediterranean-themed 'Cafe Fresco' restaurants in stores over the

next two years. Recent promotions include a summer 'Viva Italia'

campaign and the relaunch of its 'Traditional British' line in support

of British farmers hit by the foot and mouth crisis. The retailer has

also installed CD listening posts, DVD preview screens, and wine experts

in its stores recently.



Safeway is the nation's fifth largest supermarket chain, ranking just

behind Iceland with 28.6% of the £500m grocery market, according

to a recent report by Claritas.



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