OFFICE DEPOT IN TWO STOP & SHOP PROTOTYPES

QUINCY, Mass. -- The Stop & Shop Supermarket Co. here recently introduced special sections co-branded with Office Depot, Delray Beach, Fla. This adds to a list of in-store tests that include Dunkin' Donuts and Boston Market.This new strategic alliance is a part of a unique prototype store format unveiled by Stop & Shop last week as "the next generation of superstores." The new test format will also

QUINCY, Mass. -- The Stop & Shop Supermarket Co. here recently introduced special sections co-branded with Office Depot, Delray Beach, Fla. This adds to a list of in-store tests that include Dunkin' Donuts and Boston Market.

This new strategic alliance is a part of a unique prototype store format unveiled by Stop & Shop last week as "the next generation of superstores." The new test format will also feature a one-hour photo department with a portrait studio; a "For Your Home" department carrying items like towels, bath accessories and bed sheets; a party goods center; a "Toys R Us " toy department; and a consultation room located in the pharmacy for private pharmacist-customer visits, depending on the store.

The stores will also showcase an expanded health and beauty care department with the "Relax. Renew. Revive." motif introduced last year at select Giant Food Stores, Landover, Md. Giant is also a banner of Ahold USA, Chantilly, Va., Stop & Shop's parent company. The departments, which are new to Stop & Shop, feature a wider array of items than a typical drug store, and enhanced lighting and signage, the company said.

"These stores will change the way people see Stop & Shop and food retail in general," said Stop & Shop president and chief executive officer Marc Smith in a written statement. "We're very excited to see how customers will respond to this next generation of Stop & Shop stores."

Stop & Shop put the departments in two stores last week, in Walpole, Mass., and Rhinebeck, N.Y., the first two test stores for the prototype, according to a company statement. They will be Office Depot's first store-within-a-store operations, said a spokeswoman for the office products retailer.

"We had decided we wanted to enhance our office supply offering, since many mothers work from home," said Kelly O'Connor, spokeswoman for Stop & Shop. "A lot of our customers have home offices, and they need to supply them. We wanted to provide those items for our customers while they do their food shopping."

The test sections will range from 300 to 900 square feet depending on store size, said O'Connor. The departments will offer more than 800 basic office supply products, such as copier paper, ink cartridges, and mailing supplies. The sections will be clearly identified with Office Depot signage.

Fifteen test sections in New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Connecticut will roll out by the end of February 2003 and seven test formats will be tried in the Stop & Shop stores by the end of this year, said Lauren Garvey, spokeswoman, Office Depot. It is solely a vendor supply arrangement. The office retailer supplies the product -- half are Office Depot private-label items -- Stop & Shop will merchandise and service the departments.

Whether additional stores get the Office Depot program depends on the success of the pilot sections, O' Connor said.

"It's an opportunity to leverage our brand in New England in a cost-effective way," Garvey said. While Office Depot has an extensive commercial and business contract presence in New England, the company does not have retail locations in the area. Office Depot also merchandises its products through supply catalogs.

"Being that [Stop & Shop] offers so many different categories and they have the space to offer, it made sense," she added.