A&P TRAINING NEW EFFORT ON PET FOOD, CARE

KENILWORTH, N.J. -- A&P is placing a heavier emphasis on pet foods and supplies in an effort to take a bigger bite out of the dog-eat-dog category.The Montvale, N.J.-based retailer debuted an expanded pet care department of 8,600 stockkeeping units in its new 64,000-square-foot A&P Food Market prototype store that opened here Feb. 27.Pet care products are merchandised on both sides of a 92-foot long

KENILWORTH, N.J. -- A&P is placing a heavier emphasis on pet foods and supplies in an effort to take a bigger bite out of the dog-eat-dog category.

The Montvale, N.J.-based retailer debuted an expanded pet care department of 8,600 stockkeeping units in its new 64,000-square-foot A&P Food Market prototype store that opened here Feb. 27.

Pet care products are merchandised on both sides of a 92-foot long aisle. A blue sign with the words "The Pet Shop" and a rainbow over the outlines of a cat and dog is prominently placed in the center of the aisle.

In a special insert in its grand opening circular, A&P boasts that The Pet Shop has "everything for your pets at humane prices," and that "shopping at the new Pet Shop at A&P shows kindness to your animal and to your budget."

"We have expanded our pet offerings to compete with pet supermarkets," Michael Rourke, senior vice president of communications and corporate affairs at A&P, told SN.

The Kenilworth store competes with a The Pet Food Giant/PetsMart pet food supermarket less than 2 miles away on a major highway shopping strip, along with a conventional Pathmark Supercenter and Acme Market in neighboring Union.

"This is our first store to have such an expanded department and we plan on rolling it out to our other stores and formats across the country," Rourke added.

To draw attention to its new Pet Shop, A&P included in the circular pullout three coupons good for $5 off on dog obedience classes, rabies vaccinations and grooming. Shoppers had to present a paid receipt from their regular pet or grooming salon, along with the coupon at the store's courtesy counter to receive the rebate.

In addition to a full assortment of national brand products, the department stocks the new Lick Your Chops from Integrated Pet Foods of Exton, Pa., and Master's Diet superpremium pet food brands, along with private-label A&P, America's Choice and Savings Plus products.

This A&P location devotes three shelves of 40 linear feet each to dry dog foods and two shelves to dog treats, 12 linear feet to rawhide treats, three shelves of 24 linear feet each to cat litter and a similar amount of space to cat foods. Twenty feet are devoted to foods and supplies for small animals, including birds, fish and reptiles.

Additional space is devoted to nonfood items, including pet taxis, beds, aquarium kits, books, placemats and chew toys. Eight linear feet on three shelves are devoted to wild bird food.

In the department one endcap has a TV monitor that plays tapes about pet care surrounded by dozens of brochures on animal care from Friskies and other manufacturers.

By comparison, the pet care department in a conventional 27,500-square-foot A&P less than a mile down the road in Union is more representative of a typical A&P store and contains far fewer items. The Union store devotes about one half of one side of an aisle to pet-related products, with a selection primarily limited to dog and cat foods, treats and cat litter.