KITCHENWARE EXPANSION HEATING UP AT ROSAUERS

SPOKANE, Wash. -- Rosauers Supermarkets here is advancing its effort to upgrade kitchenware with more variety and larger departments.The chain plans to remerchandise the housewares category this fall with new, upscale cookware, bakeware and glassware. Rosauers will also expand the present 24- to 28-foot gadget runs to 40- to 44-foot runs."We want to get a little bit more upscale in housewares with

SPOKANE, Wash. -- Rosauers Supermarkets here is advancing its effort to upgrade kitchenware with more variety and larger departments.

The chain plans to remerchandise the housewares category this fall with new, upscale cookware, bakeware and glassware. Rosauers will also expand the present 24- to 28-foot gadget runs to 40- to 44-foot runs.

"We want to get a little bit more upscale in housewares with items not found at our [supermarket] competitors," said Denny Voight, the 18-store chain's nonfood buyer/merchandiser. "People cook more exotically and ethnically today and are buying better-quality kitchen accessories."

The housewares shift will enable Rosauers to better compete against mass merchandisers and specialty stores too, Voight said.

"Target and Kmart carry a pretty broad range, and you want to be in the ballpark with them. Target especially carries some good upscale stuff."

Voight said the better-made products carry margins in the neighborhood of 40%. "People are willing to pay a higher price for quality housewares."

Suppliers have not been finalized, Voight said.

Rosauers began revamping its gadget rack a year and a half ago. The chain replaced the cheaper EKCO gadgets it had been stocking with 16 to 20 feet of Norpro stainless-steel and plastic gadgets and kitchenware accessories priced up to $40, Voight said.

Rosauers is carrying between 600 and 700 stockkeeping units of the Everett, Wash.-based Norpro line, from gadgets and tools to cooking implements and accessories like timers, trivets and salad spinners, all merchandised on 12 to 24 feet of slatboard.

Despite the significantly higher price points, sales of the more expensive gadgets and kitchen tools "have been phenomenal," Voight said. The chain's upscale gadgets are priced lower than at mall specialty shops, he added.

Cookware and bakeware will be tagged up to $24.99 for 8-inch to 12-inch fry pans and deep skillets. Covered sauce pans and lasagna pans will also be part of the mix.

In cookware, Rosauers will arrange the new products in a pegged 4-foot presentation, with lids and covers on the bottom shelf. It's an approach Voight prefers to shelving the cookware itself. "Customers will walk right by pots and pans displayed on a shelf," he said.

While the new cookware assortment won't be as high-quality as department store offerings, it will be higher than the usual supermarket grade, Voight said.

Glassware, a new general-merchandise category for the chain, will be merchandised in bulk and carry price points between $1.99 and $6.99. Clear 16- to 20-ounce glass tumblers, for example, will sell for up to $3.99 each.

Rosauers purchases Norpro products directly from the manufacturer and will procure the new cookware, bakeware and glassware through its wholesaler, URM Stores here.