FOODTOWN REPLANOGRAMMING FOR MORE CONSISTENT SKUS

EDISON, N.J. -- The Foodtown Supermarket co-op is replanogramming many of its general merchandise departments by cutting out duplication and focusing on faster turning items.In a new lightbulb schematic, for example, 68 slow moving General Electric items were eliminated."The purpose of the general merchandise replanogramming is for more consistent stockkeeping units within all our stores," said Allan

EDISON, N.J. -- The Foodtown Supermarket co-op is replanogramming many of its general merchandise departments by cutting out duplication and focusing on faster turning items.

In a new lightbulb schematic, for example, 68 slow moving General Electric items were eliminated.

"The purpose of the general merchandise replanogramming is for more consistent stockkeeping units within all our stores," said Allan Weiss, merchandise manager, Alpine Distributors, a West Nyack, N.Y.-based nonfood division of Twin County Grocers, the Foodtown co-op warehouse here. Weiss said the goal is to increase general merchandise by approximately 0.5% at the 106 Foodtown Supermarkets. Also, Alpine plans to streamline its warehouse inventory levels and product assortments for a more strategic offering. This is the first time that Alpine is developing planograms for 4-foot to 20-foot general merchandise categories, which include lightbulbs, Rubbermaid products, hardware, cookware and baby, stationery and kitchen domestics. Previously, retailers had developed their own planograms. Besides creating more productive shelf sets, the program is expected to better position retailers and their co-op warehouse "to compete against mass merchandisers including Wal-Mart, which has yet to hit our area, but the retailer is coming," said Weiss. Initial efforts, which began late last year with resets of the 4-foot to 12-foot kitchen gadgets, have so far paid off with a 20% increase in gadgets sales, said Weiss. In the kitchen gadget reset, about 15 different vendors were dropped in favor of a single major brand, Lifetime Hoan, Long Island, N.Y. The pegboard display presented a uniform look. "It now jumps off the shelf as you walk down the section," Weiss commented. He added: "This was a radical change from the many different suppliers we had in everyday gadgets, and it lowered product price points by around 10%." Alpine is taking the same approach in the new hardware section shelf schematic slated to go out to retailers this month.

Although Alpine will continue to work on the new planograms internally for the rest of this year, the remerchandising project will take a brief hiatus between October 1 to January 1 due to heavy fourth quarter shopper traffic.

Weiss said the department resets are being implemented within existing store selling space. Alpine will track changes in movement and sales as the new planograms settle in at store. "We want to see if sales are going up or down," he said. Meanwhile, Weiss said recent changes in buying methods at Alpine have lead to nearly a 20% reduction in its general merchandise warehouse inventory in June and July. "We're trying to order from vendors with slow-moving inventory less often, and bring in two to four weeks worth of inventory at a time. We're putting more emphasis on suppliers with higher-moving products, and ordering from them more frequently to turn these faster-selling products even more. This has tightened our inventory levels and improved product replenishment," said Weiss.