ALBERTSON'S OPENS FIFTH 'PLAZA' STORE IN ORLANDO

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNS) -- A new 59,000-square-foot Albertson's on South Orange Blossom Trail here is the fifth store to be rolled out in Orlando in the Albertson's "plaza" format. The format -- which groups items as solution centers and emphasizes grab-and-go meals, snacks and drinks -- is being applied to every new or remodeled store, according to Anne Alenskis, a spokeswoman for Albertson's.Nonetheless,

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNS) -- A new 59,000-square-foot Albertson's on South Orange Blossom Trail here is the fifth store to be rolled out in Orlando in the Albertson's "plaza" format. The format -- which groups items as solution centers and emphasizes grab-and-go meals, snacks and drinks -- is being applied to every new or remodeled store, according to Anne Alenskis, a spokeswoman for Albertson's.

Nonetheless, the format varies signage and product selection at each unit to fit the demographics of the neighborhood. The unit on South Orange Blossom has unique signage and an expanded product selection for a customer base that is Hispanic, white and African-American.

"We're going to destination centers, but each store is different," Alenskis said. "We'll find some standards, like [fresh] meals, but some sections, such as Reading Centers, may not be as big [as at the South Orange Blossom Trail store]," she said.

Since the format was rolled out last spring, about 30 Albertson's stores nationwide feature the new destinations. According to store director Curt Rockwood, the attention-grabbing signs over departments and expensive wooden display racks are designed to keep customers in the store longer. "The destination categories are a lot more comfortable for shoppers. They tend to spend more time in [a plaza] store," he said.

At this upscale unit, emphasis is on meals and groceries-to-go. In the 4,000-square-foot Beverage Boulevard section near the front of the store, shoppers can grab individual bottles of juices, water and sodas from the 32-foot-long refrigerated glass case.

Snack Central, which includes all crackers, chips, candy and cookies, also mimics a convenience store, with several single-serve, easy to-grab Nutri-Grain bars, candy bars and mini-cookie packs spread throughout the department.

Albertson's officials believe it is important to group all snacks and beverages together, according to Brenda Conyers, advertising/marketing manager for Albertson's Florida division in Maitland, Fla.

"We did it for customer convenience," Conyers said. "It's very confusing for someone to think about their family's beverage needs [with beverages in different areas of the store]. We want all selections in one place so they don't forget to get it."

"The same is true with planning a party: They have to get snacks, chips and dips. It's easier to think about products in a category," Conyers added.

Ethnic foods were not slotted into a "destination" section in this store because, Conyers said, Albertson's already has Mexican and other ethnic fare grouped together within aisles. However, this store has 36 feet of Hispanic grocery items because its customer base is 50% Hispanic. Most Albertson's have about 12 feet of Hispanic groceries, said store director Rockwood.