Non-foods wins a place in the 'King's' court.
As the chain's director of non-foods, Principe has fought hard to elevate non-food's presence in this 53-store chain that has long abided by the "tried and true" precepts of value, variety, quality, service and specials--all heavily oriented to foods. And in the new superstore the chain has broken its conservative mold by giving non-foods 508 linear feet of shelf display.
Previously, "The King" concentrated on expanding its food orientation with such departments as service fish and deli, service bakery, and salad bars, so non-foods had not exactly been a jewel in The King's crown. But it may become one yet. After all, health and beauty aids has doubled its sales in the past four years and general merchandise has picked up space in some remodeled and expanded stores.
"One-stop shopping is recognized as the supermarket trend and expanded non-foods is recognized as part of it," Principe says. But, he notes, until more superstore space is available, King Kullen considers food as the first thing first.
Working within this system, Principe has trained his sights on no-foods' single most important section--health and beauty aids. Without substantially increasing floor footage, he's increased HBA sales by adding more shelving and variety. Principe credits his two HBA suppliers, Supermarket Services of Linden, N.J., and Star Drug of New Haven, Conn., for working hard to make the necessary planogram and store-level adjustments. The adjustments included adding at least one shelf to most categories; for example, remedies has nine shelves in many stores.
On the general merchandise front, greeting cards has become something of a star department with sections in 17 stores averaging 48 linear feet.
Housewares and related sections run an average of 44 linear feet. But space constraints forced Principe to resort to endcaps for pantyhose when in-line shelving space was unavailable.
In conventional stores, Principe prefers to concentrate general merchandise in one aisle, rather than distributing the various GM sections to several grocery aisles.
"Our housewares and other GM categories are fairly small," he says. "They would get lost and have no identity if they were split up."
He uses the same approach in the Lindenhurst superstore. Although baby foods are displayed next to baby needs, most non-foods are grouped together in one part of the sales area. Principe says his reason for having a concentrated section is to reinforce the one-stop shopping appeal by providing a recognizable non-foods department. And the concentrated method, he says, permits more efficient stocking by the service merchandisers.
In the Lindenhurst superstore, GM and 0HBA occupy 11 sides of 50-and 38-foot gondolas, which are separated by a cross aisle. Non-foods picks up five cross-aisle endcaps and has others for pantyhose, pet supplies and discounted hardcover books. Near the store's up-front service center is 12 feet of glassed-in shelving displaying samples of personal appliances, telephones, radios, watches and similar merchandise. The items are sold through a service section.
Health and beauty aids is non-foods' leading section. It accounts for more than half of non-foods' nearly 6% share of sales, a commendable figure in this store considering the amount of space devoted to the store's highly popular fresh fish, service deli and bakery departments, and other perishables.
Not including sanitary needs, which are placed in another aisle, HBA occupies two facing 50-foot gondola sides. Like all the packaged goods in the store, HBA benefits from valance lighting. It gains added glamour, thanks to tilted mirrors suspended above the two 16-foot sections for cosmetics and hari accessories. HBA also has two endcaps--one for specials, the other for trial sizes. The latter is set in five shelves, four of which are tilted. The prominent endcap spot for trial sizes is a first for the chain, although several stores display the high profit items in inline wire baskets.
Following the shelf display technique used in other King Kullen stores, the drug rack is tall (the top shelf is 70 inches high) and makes use of tightly fitted shelving. Remedies has nine 12-foot shelves, while skin care, first aid, conditioners and deodorants have eight shelves. With the exception of men's toiletries, which has a pegboarded razor rack, no HBA section has fewer than seven shelves. Excluding cosmetics and hair care, HBA boasts some 1,600 SKUs.
Mirrored surfaces of Mylar plastic sheeting and vertical lettering identifying the section are used on the side panels or diveders of many of the housewares sections. Jim Sadowski, vice president of Fishman Housewares, Hicksville, N.Y., says the store's mirrored panels were a first for his company. and while both the sheeting were "fairly expensive," he says they impart "some extra sparkle and eye-appeal."
Yet Sadowski doesn't believe the effect works for small sections. "You need a fairly long line of display with several subcategories to give a good effect." In small sections, where every display inch counts, he says, the dividers would be blocked off by merchandise.
Mike Curcio of Star Drug says the stylish look of the cosmetics section, which features black or colored pegboard and mirrored surfaces, was used in baby accessories, toys and sewing needs. Curcio was pleased that the displays attracted the attention of visiting King Kullen store managers who wanted similar setups in their stores. "More eye appeal," he says, "not only helps sales, it classes up the store."
The baby care, toys and party goods section also benefitted from the large number of mothers with babies and young children in the area. Those shoppers have helped these sections become among the most successful non-foods in the Lindenhurst store.
For instance, the toy section was lengthened to 12 from 8 feet several months after opening. Principe says, "We had thought 8 feet was sufficient, but it's practically impossible to get initial footage exectly right for a new store. It's always necessary to fine-tune space allocations to suit the area's customer buying habits."
Other exceptionally popular GM categories and the space they are given include foilware, 4 feet; the bath shop, 8 feet; gadgets, 18 feet; and post and pans, 12 feet. The store also has 50 feet of soft goods, not counting a 3-D pantyhose endcap. The most popular soft goods sections are the kitchen domestics and tablecloths, both of which get 8 feet of display space. United Super Apparel, Ridgefield, N.J., supplies the soft goods.
The store's most unusual non-foods feature is the book department, which takes up a 50-foot spread of custom shelving in high-glossed pine. the section, situated across from greeting cards, is supplied by Imperial News, a local magazine wholesaler based in Melville, N.Y. the book section features and endcap devoted to best-seller hardbound books at 20% off. the display includes 12 feet of magazines, 20 feet of paperbacks, 6 feet of reference and trade books, 8 feet of bargain books, and 4 feet of children's books, soon to be expanded to 8 feet.
To use his extensive GM space best, Principe works with his suppliers to play up products in season. For instance, several soft goods and hard goods categories are consolidated or reduced in size to make about 32 feet available for summer goods or for Thanksgiving and Christmas merchandise. this is a fairly complicated maneuver, but it is deemed more than worthwhile. Says Principe, "We give the whole non-foods department and the store a promotional boost."
Bernard Kennedy, King Kullen's senior vice president, when he speaks of the chain's plans for the future. "More superstores are part of what we're planning, along with new stores in the 30,000- to 35,000-square-foot class," Kennedy says. "A stronger emphasis on non-foods will play a part in all this."