GIGANTE REVAMPING BODEGA LAYOUTS

MEXICO CITY -- Grupo Gigante here has adjusted the sales floor layouts in most of its Bodega Gigante units to make them more efficient and productive.The company said this reduced the total sales area of its Bodega Gigante division by more than 337,000 square feet, or about 20%.Because layouts differ from store to store, sales floor changes are difficult to describe in general terms, a company spokesman

MEXICO CITY -- Grupo Gigante here has adjusted the sales floor layouts in most of its Bodega Gigante units to make them more efficient and productive.

The company said this reduced the total sales area of its Bodega Gigante division by more than 337,000 square feet, or about 20%.

Because layouts differ from store to store, sales floor changes are difficult to describe in general terms, a company spokesman said.

However, one recent change was reconfiguring music and video departments at four Bodega Gigante units. This included moving music and video displays from an in-aisle gondola to the front of the stores.

Bodega Gigante began displaying music and video products up front at two stores here and two in Chihuahua in July as part of its new distribution agreement with Handleman Co., Troy, Mich.

Similar music and video displays will be added at other Bodega Gigante stores "as quickly as we can make those arrangements," said Enrique Langle de Anda, chief executive officer of Gigante's Bodega division.

Each store will devote approximately 1,000 square feet of display space in the front section to music and video products, he said.

Handleman Co. is a major supplier of home entertainment products to mass merchandisers in North America. Its product line includes cassettes and compact discs, videos, books and personal computer software.

Grupo Gigante recently reported increased sales and lower earnings for the six months ended June 30.

Net income for the 26-week first half fell 79% to $2.9 million ($9.6 million Mexican pesos at current exchange rates). Sales rose 10% to $1.2 billion.

Company officials said the lower earnings were mainly the result of a foreign exchange loss and higher interest rates. The Integral Result of Financing -- which recognizes dramatic financial swings in the volatile Mexican economy due to inflation or higher interest rates -- had a negative effect of $22.6 million for the half, the company said. The IRF had a positive effect of $4.9 million in last year's first half.

"In light of the complexities we face in the Mexican market, we have focused our efforts more strongly in making the group's assets more efficient and productive" by closing some stores and converting others to different formats, the company said in a statement.

Grupo Gigante closed three Gigante supercenters and four smaller Bodega Gigante units during the half. It also converted eight Gigantes to the more upscale Super G format and one SuperMart -- a joint venture with Fleming Cos., Oklahoma City -- to a Bodega Gigante.

The company opened six stores during the period: two Gigantes, one Bodega Gigante, one Super G and two Toks restaurants.

Grupo Gigante operates 144 Gigante stores, 31 Bodega Gigante units, 11 Super G stores, three SuperMarts (in a joint venture with Fleming) and one Hiper G (a joint venture with Carrefour).

It also owns and operates 29 Toks family-style restaurants, five specialty restaurants and 47 Radio Shack outlets.