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Lunds and Byerly's supermarkets, two well-known chains with the same owner, will soon sport the same name, too: "Lunds & Byerlys."

The rebranding will kick off Thursday at the Byerly's store in Woodbury, when new signs will be revealed. Also on Thursday, at all of the stores, new employee uniforms and grocery bags will have the new name.

Signs at all 26 Lunds and Byerly's supermarkets are expected to be switched to "Lunds & Byerlys" by the end of May.

"We realize our customer has affinity to both brands, Lunds and Byerly's," Tres Lund, CEO of Lund Food Holdings Inc., told the Star Tribune in an interview.

Lunds bought Byerly's in 1997, combining the two Twin Cities-based chains under one corporate umbrella. Lunds dates back to 1939 to a grocery store on Lake Street in Minneapolis; Byerly's to 1968 in Golden Valley. The two chains are on the premium end of the grocery spectrum.

In 2012, Lunds' market research showed that 95 percent of its customers saw the two chains and the company as one and the same, said Lund, whose grandfather founded Lunds.

"What our customer is experiencing in Lunds or Byerly's is essentially the same commitment," he said. "We see ourselves as Lunds & Byerlys."

The two chains began combining operations soon after the 1997 deal, blending everything from product procurement to employee training and development. The names came together in 2004 with the launch of the premium Lunds & Byerlys private-label brand.

"That was a pivotal moment," Lund said.

In 2005, Lunds launched a unified website for the two brands, Last year, the company opened Lunds & Byerlys Kitchen in Wayzata, which is about one-third the size of a conventional grocery store and features prepared foods and a full restaurant with wine and beer.

John Dean, a Twin Cities supermarket consultant, said the name change isn't surprising given the integration of the brands. Plus, the two chains play to the same customer base.

"It makes sense to have one name [for the stores], and if the name is the combination of the two, so be it," Dean said.

The number of Lunds and Byerly's stores is evenly split at 13, and includes a Byerly's in St. Cloud. The two chains together had close to 9 percent of the Twin Cities grocery market a year ago, up from 6.88 percent in 2010, according to Nielsen data. The company opened a new Lunds market just last year in downtown St. Paul.

The supermarket's new logo sports the initials "L&B" in a circle. On signs at the stores, the L&B will be accompanied by the words "Lunds & Byerlys." (Byerly's is losing its apostrophe in the change.)

So what's the cost of renaming all those stores? "We don't talk about our costs, but in the scope of our branding, it is not an extraordinary number," Lund said.

The Lunds & Byerlys in Woodbury will officially open its doors at 11 a.m. Thursday. The first 500 customers will receive a free reusable grocery bag. Of those bags, 50 will include a $10 Lunds & Byerlys gift card and one will include a $100 gift card, the company said.

Mike Hughlett • 612-673-7003