PETRINI MARKETS COMPLETING CUTBACK OF NONFOOD LINES

SAN RAFAEL, Calif. -- Petrini Markets here is completing the cutback of its nonfood lines in a move to expand into larger food departments and better distinguish itself in the marketplace.Petrini's decision, which was made in April, bucks the industry trend to expand general merchandise and health and beauty care at grocery retail outlets.Health and beauty care now will be in a limited variety of

SAN RAFAEL, Calif. -- Petrini Markets here is completing the cutback of its nonfood lines in a move to expand into larger food departments and better distinguish itself in the marketplace.

Petrini's decision, which was made in April, bucks the industry trend to expand general merchandise and health and beauty care at grocery retail outlets.

Health and beauty care now will be in a limited variety of fast moving products as a customer convenience, Don Way, vice president and general manager, told SN.

Cosmetics are no longer carried and a broad range of medications have been reduced. Major classifications in analgesics and other high-demand segments, however, are being stocked.

"HBC will be in the things we can buy in case quantities as opposed to the one- to three-item picks from our rack jobber. We don't feel people come to our stores to shop for HBC and cosmetics. In almost every instance we are located near a Long's or a Walgreen's and that's their business," Way noted.

"Our image as a high-service, high-quality environment in service meat counters, and in very high quality bakery, produce and deli shouldn't change. We are planning on capitalizing on our reputation of full service."

The 18-store supermarket chain will focus its remaining general merchandise mix around tabletop items in glassware, candles and limited kitchen gadgets that tie directly into a meal.

"We've drastically reduced the number of stockkeeping units in those areas, as our general philosophy now is to focus on edible departments," said Way.

Petrini's has taken markdowns at all nonfood sections chainwide to eliminate most of its nonfood across the board in all categories.

The retailer, owned by Provigo, Montreal, will eliminate about 90% of nonfood selling space, with the first store planned for the new format at Los Gatos this month. Following similar remodelings, its other outlets are expected to shift over to the new format by the end of this year.

The strategy, according to Way, will enhance Petrini's strong reputation and image as a fine food retailer that also offers a high level of customer services.

While Petrini may continue offering some kitchen gadgets and tools, it would be in a limited assortment. In any event, "we'd carry anything that we feel is of good quality and presents a good value to our customers," Way said.

Way further said, "There has been no distinction between what we do in general merchandise and HBC and what Lucky, Safeway or conventional markets do. We want to broaden the distinction in what we do sell and what conventional markets sell with a real emphasis and focus on edibles."

Way expected high margins lost in nonfood sales to be made up by "returns from new merchandise in the edibles."

Petrini's nonfood on average represented about 7% to 8% of total store sales.