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Courtney Young will head floral operations for the newly merged Sprouts Farmers Market and Sunflower Farmers Market, it was announced in late July by Tom Foulds, vice president for perishable. The chain of 139 stores and three distribution centers will operate under the Sprouts Farmers Market name and all stores will carry a new program of cut and potted flowers.

SPROUTS912-COURTNEY-YOUNG-2Courtney Young, who will head floral operations for the merged Sprouts Farmers Market and Sunflower Farmers Market chains, with a prototype of the floral department that will debut this fall and phase into operations at all 144 stores in the new company. Mr. Young’s title will be floral category manager. He had been head of floral for Sunflower Farmers Market since 2008 and started the floral units in its 35 stores, a task chronicled in a series in The Produce News (“Setting up new floral departments a three-year roller coaster ride,” Oct. 4, 2010, page F-6). He worked from the ground up, setting up units in new stores and retrofitted them into existing stores.

Now Mr. Young faces a similar challenge on a larger scale, he said — to provide a standard basic floral program for all stores while allowing flexibility to add special products suited to each store’s demographics. “This may sound like a repeat from back in 2008,” he acknowledged, “but today I will take a large company with 144 stores and three distribution centers and implement a new and exciting floral program.”

Corporate support for floral at the merged chain is strong, he said. “Jim Nielsen, our chief operating officer, was brought aboard from the Henry’s merger with Sprouts and is a huge floral advocate.” In his announcement of Mr. Young’s appointment and the new floral program, Mr. Foulds said “Bringing all regions together as one will help with costs, retail and selection.”

Texas and Oklahoma will launch the new floral program this month, Mr. Foulds said, followed by other regions throughout the rest of the year. Elements of the program include new bouquet selections, potted herbs, sunflower bunches, aloe vera plants, blooming plants and foliage, potted orchids, and seasonal items such as locally grown poinsettias, tomatoes and peppers.

Sprouts did not originally carry flowers, though some of its subsidiary companies did, but has recently added floral displays. “Over the past few weeks,” Mr. Young said, “I have been developing a new look for future floral department at Sprouts, beginning with something that would work with the farmers market theme. We will focus on signage and custom-designed wood crates at first.”

The addition of Sunflower’s 35 stores expands Sprouts’ geographic footprint to Nevada, Utah, New Mexico and Oklahoma and further extends its presence in California, Arizona, Colorado and Texas. Overall, the combined company plans to open up to 13 new stores during 2012. It will be a prominent player in the western United States retail food industry, with projected 2012 annual revenues approaching $2 billion, according to a company statement.

Prior to setting up and running the floral program at Sunflower Farmers Market, Mr. Young was the floral specialist at Larry’s Market in Seattle and the floral buyer at Winn-Dixie Stores in Jacksonville, FL.