FROZENS GET CENTRAL ROLE AT NEW BIG PUBLIX UNITS

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Publix Super Markets here is moving frozen food from the sidelines to center stage in its new larger stores. The retailer's older units have frozen food displayed against a wall, "but the chain has gotten away from that in the big stores," said a source familiar with the Publix frozen foods strategy.In fact, the source noted, "In any Publix store built now that is 48,000 square feet

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Publix Super Markets here is moving frozen food from the sidelines to center stage in its new larger stores. The retailer's older units have frozen food displayed against a wall, "but the chain has gotten away from that in the big stores," said a source familiar with the Publix frozen foods strategy.

In fact, the source noted, "In any Publix store built now that is 48,000 square feet or larger, frozen food will be located in the middle of the store."

While the change will affect new stores opened chainwide, it currently is most evident in metro Atlanta, where Publix operates more than a half-dozen stores, with another due to open this month in the city's Buckhead area.

The source said the Atlanta units run 48,000, 55,000 or 68,000 square feet. But in all cases, frozen food is an expansive department located in the center of the store, directly behind the checkstands.

The size of the department will vary according to the size of the store. In the recently opened, 55,000-square-foot store in Marietta, Ga., the department was comprised of approximately 94 doors of case space.

Essentially, Publix devoted two full grocery aisles to frozens. Full double runs of 30 doors each were complemented by two shorter sets of 17 doors.

One aisle contained a vast assortment of frozen entrees, dinners and handheld convenience foods. The other aisle held ice cream, novelties, juice and vegetables.

Rounding out the department was a coffin case between 30 and 40 feet, framed in the front of the department by the doored cases.

On the endcap of the shorter set of doors, facing the coffin, Publix merchandised ice cream cones and toppings.

The brightly lit Marietta store, which opened in mid-November, displayed holiday turkeys in the coffin case. The chain also had hot features on items such as Weight Watchers' Sweet Celebrations and Stouffer's Lean Cuisine, each running three for $5, as well as its private-label, premium ice cream for $1.69 a half gallon, regularly $2.29.