B&B REALIGNING NONFOOD SECTIONS

TAMPA, Fla. -- B&B Cash Grocery Stores is fine-tuning its nonfood departments by scaling down department sizes to maximize shelf space and evaluating section variety.The chain is projecting a minimum 5% increase in nonfood sales when the revamping is completed by the end of this year, said Bob Eviston, buyer-merchandiser of general merchandise and health and beauty care.The chain will cut the HBC

TAMPA, Fla. -- B&B Cash Grocery Stores is fine-tuning its nonfood departments by scaling down department sizes to maximize shelf space and evaluating section variety.

The chain is projecting a minimum 5% increase in nonfood sales when the revamping is completed by the end of this year, said Bob Eviston, buyer-merchandiser of general merchandise and health and beauty care.

The chain will cut the HBC department from 160 feet to 120 feet. However, cosmetics will be expanded from a limited variety at an endcap to a new in-line 16-foot-long department. The shift will offer a larger cosmetics section because it has become a much more crucial HBC area for retailers, said Eviston.

"Cosmetics is very competitive in the Tampa area. We wanted a complete assortment of products for our customers. Displaying cosmetics on a 3-D endcap limited the number of colors and shades that we could carry in complete branded lines."

Eviston said the more comprehensive product lines "now allow our customers to find what they're looking for and complete their selections in lip, eye and nail care products."

Stores already set with the new department configuration report improved product turns on inventory dollars. The categories most overloaded with slower moving merchandise have been deodorants, skin lotions, first-aid, eye care and shampoos. Eviston said HBC had evolved gradually over time into the larger sections. "During the past several years as the industry was getting into larger stores and bigger HBC sections, we did too. Our inventory dollars, however, just weren't turning for the amount of space in the section."

The chain also has gone to standard 16-inch deep shelving found in the grocery aisle for better inventory control. "HBC used to be set up on a 22-inch deep base shelf and upper shelves stair-stepped on 17, 14, 12 and 10-inch deep shelves. The section is now using all standard 16-inch shelving," Eviston added.

In resetting analgesics, for example, B&B went from four to two rows of Bayer aspirin, "as we used to basically spread out in analgesics and usually ended up with outdated products on the shelf."

B&B acquires about 80% of its HBC needs directly through its own warehouse and relies on an outside supplier for the balance of products.

Most retailers in B&B's trading area are on an everyday-low-price policy, said Eviston. "We can't give product away but the days of 40% and 33% profit in HBC are gone, so we try to find a happy medium within the different HBC categories," he said.

Eviston has found HBC works best when located at the center of the store, in direct line with the courtesy counter for improved security.

"We're careful in dealing with new entries. Where we used to just send a new HBC introduction on to stores and let them work it into the sets, the tighter department size has forced us into being very careful about new product items."