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Bradlees doubling storage.

BRAINTREE, Mass.--Bradlees has doubled space for its home organization department this year, identifying storage as a key element in its plan to restore the chain's financial health, said Mark Cohen, chief executive and chairman.

The Northeastern mass merchant aims to set itself apart from competitors with a broader and deeper offering, a shift to higher-end products, and improved presentation and organization of the department, Cohen noted.

The plan is part of a larger store makeover--focusing on more profitable and fashionable products--designed to help the retailer emerge from Chapter 11.

Bradlees has cut back its automotive and hardware sections to make room for more organization and laundry care merchandise, Cohen said. Consolidating storage into one cohesive section, the discounter has expanded shelf space for plastic totes and lockers, bulked up its wire storage offering, focused on the fashion end of the corrugated and vinyl business and emphasized trade-up products.

"We want consumers to view Bradlees as the place to shop for their storage needs," Cohen said.

Bradlees has made totes more of a presence in the storage department by giving them more shelf space. Controlling costs played a part in the decision to give more space to totes, he noted. "If you handle totes a lot, you simply throw away the margins," Cohen explained. With more shelf space, the stores can more readily move shipments directly onto the floor, he noted.

The retailer also deepened its assortment of drawer units, children's organization, wire storage and closet ensembles. Within wire storage, Bradlees has emphasized easy-assembly or no-assembly items for the closet, kitchen and garage.

The retail chain has changed its product mix, offering items by several specialty store-oriented vendors to bring a more upscale feel to the department. Bradlees now stocks products from The Bag Stand, Umbra, Polder and InterDesign. These items help Bradlees appeal to a larger base of consumers, including middle- and upper-income shoppers, Cohen noted.

"Years ago, they used to be more of a department store," said David Griffith, vice president of sales and marketing for corrugated and vinyl storage supplier Whitmor, about Bradlees. Griffith applauded the retailer's move to restore its higher-end image, noting, "It worked for them before."

In the laundry care section, the merchant believes it has created excitement with more fashion-oriented products and better-quality ironing boards, Cohen noted. "We've taken a ready-to-wear approach with ironing board covers," he said.

"The Bradlees consumer tends to be a little higher-income and will trade up if they identify specific features and benefits in a product," said Norman Proulx, president and chief executive of laundry care supplier Seymour Housewares.

Bradlees plays up fashion patterns in its vinyl and corrugated ensemble programs by displaying miniature garment bags in each print to show consumers what the product looks like outside of its package. The merchant also has added a higher-end canvas line by Design Trend.

Carrying its heightened commitment to storage through to advertising, Bradlees devoted four pages to storage and laundry care items in its circular last month during its home sale.
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Title Annotation:space allotment for home-storage products
Author:Hill, Dawn
Publication:HFN The Weekly Newspaper for the Home Furnishing Network
Date:Mar 4, 1996
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