A&P EXPANDS, INTENSIFIES MERCHANDISING OF NONFOOD LINES

MONTVALE, N.J. -- A&P here is moving ahead with an expanded merchandising thrust and more striking product presentations in targeted nonfood categories.The effort taps into the potential for higher-impulse general merchandise and health and beauty care sales, explained an executive in the chain's Philadelphia Super Fresh Markets division, who asked to remain unidentified."We're enhancing nonfood for

MONTVALE, N.J. -- A&P here is moving ahead with an expanded merchandising thrust and more striking product presentations in targeted nonfood categories.

The effort taps into the potential for higher-impulse general merchandise and health and beauty care sales, explained an executive in the chain's Philadelphia Super Fresh Markets division, who asked to remain unidentified.

"We're enhancing nonfood for improved one-stop shopping, the same reason retailers like Kmart are moving more into food lines," the executive explained to SN at a March 5 pre-opening preview of a new 60,000-square-foot Super Fresh in the city's Somerton section.

According to Michael Rourke, A&P's senior vice president for communications and corporate affairs, the current nonfood merchandising spin is part of A&P's new large store format. Rourke said a few of these nonfood display ideas were first tested at two or three New England A&P units 17 months ago.

Some or all of these merchandising ideas are being incorporated in new or remodeled 60,000- to 65,000-square-foot A&P stores.

A&P's nonfood merchandising twist includes an 84-foot-long upscale Kitchen Shop, containing a wide variety of housewares. There is a new 40-foot cosmetics department in the HBC section, with packaged products merchandised loosely on shelves as opposed to J-hooked, carded or blister-packed products. This is similar to the way drug stores display cosmetics.

In the pharmacy department of the new Super Fresh store is a 40-foot vitamin wall rack whereas vitamins in other Super Fresh stores are displayed in 12- to 16-foot-long shelving units below the pharmacy service counter.

Near the pharmacy department in one of the HBC aisles of the new store is an 8-foot home health care department containing such items as heating pads, digital thermometers and canes. Older Super Fresh stores do not have home health care departments.

According to Rourke, A&P now uses these nonfood merchandising ideas in different divisions of the country.

Obviously, you test them in each market area. Sometimes, they work in some areas but not in others. So you have to test them out and see."

While the new Philadelphia Super Fresh, for example, carries Disney baby clothing and Lego toys in the baby section, and Lisa Frank toys near school supplies, these items are not widely available at the company's other divisions, said Rourke.

The Kitchen Shop section at the Philadelphia Super Fresh has a range of products, from gadgets to oak tabletop accessories, like spice racks, lazy Susans, napkin and towel holders, ceramic serveware and some 50 kitchen appliances. Selections are priced from 99 cents for a plastic honey dipper to $49.99 for a four-piece Shaker Collection canister set.

At existing Super Fresh Markets, Kitchen Shop items are displayed in related grocery aisles. The new Super Fresh's Kitchen Shop mix includes popularly priced merchandise, such as Proctor-Silex and Hamilton Beach. Retails and margins of these products are priced lower than at kitchen specialty shops.

In kitchen domestics, for example, towels, potholders, oven mitts, tablecloths and individual place settings are priced from $2.99 to $17.99. Brands include Kay Dee Designs. "They are a little more upscale to satisfy most shoppers and keep these sales in our stores," the Super Fresh source said.

In the 40-foot cosmetics section, carded Cover Girl and Maybelline selections are supplied by Super Market Service Corp., A&P's in-house nonfood division, also based here. Other cosmetics lines include Revlon and Almay. Most Kitchen Shop housewares, apparel and toys are supplied to the new Super Fresh by outside service merchandisers in a fully racked service program.

A&P's present corporate nonfood merchandising posture is apparently working so well that Super Market Service is in the process of adding many of these general merchandise and cosmetics stockkeeping units to its warehouse inventory, according to the Super Fresh retailer.

The nonfood merchandising concept is in place at two or three metro New York-region A&P stores. During the next two to three months, Philadelphia Super Fresh plans to install the program into some 20 stores in Philadelphia, southern New Jersey and northern Delaware that are larger than 40,000 square feet.