KASH N' KARRY GOES A CUT ABOVE

TAMPA, Fla. -- A new service seafood section and an adjoining meat case with value-added emphasis is helping Kash n' Karry Food Stores beef up department sales in its latest remodel here."We couldn't be happier with the results. We've doubled seafood sales [over the same period a year ago]," said Bob Wheaton, vice president of meat and seafood.Chain officials said the remodeled unit represents the

TAMPA, Fla. -- A new service seafood section and an adjoining meat case with value-added emphasis is helping Kash n' Karry Food Stores beef up department sales in its latest remodel here.

"We couldn't be happier with the results. We've doubled seafood sales [over the same period a year ago]," said Bob Wheaton, vice president of meat and seafood.

Chain officials said the remodeled unit represents the chain's new strategy for positioning itself as a prime fresh food purveyor. In meat and seafood, the strategy is bearing fruit: Together the two sections contribute 20% of total store sales here, compared with 15% chainwide.

Before the store's grand opening in late March, the seafood presentation had consisted of prewrapped packages in a coffin case. Now, with new ice tables, it has an updated, customer-friendly look.

"Here, where they can see a fish being filleted, customers know the product's fresh. And the ice table makes an eye-catching display. We've had customers who think seafood is entirely new here. I guess they didn't see it before," Wheaton said.

Wheaton pointed to a 12-foot service meat case against the back wall, which the meat and seafood department shares with the store's chefs. Four feet of the case are dedicated to value-added, ready-to-cook meats prepared by the chefs in the food-service department. An example is pork loin with dried fruit stuffing and an Italian roast with a provolone filling and bread-crumb coating.

The meat department also provides value-added meats for that case. "We're adding seasonings and marinades to give them a unique flavor, and we have kabobs," Wheaton said.

The shared case is a good example of departments working together, he said. "We've always cross-merchandised, but we're just more cognizant of the opportunities to work together now than we had been before. All our departments are working toward having a total meal center."

Wheaton said the meat department has begun packaging vegetables with roasts in its self-service case. "Anything we can do to make mealtime easier for the customer is what we're aiming to do."

To appeal to its entire customer base, the meat department offers cuts of meat in both Certified Black Angus and USDA Choice, Wheaton said.

"We're proud that we have the exclusive rights in the market to sell Black Angus, but some of our customers just want to stick with Choice, so we give them both options," he said.