PUBLIX SAID TO SLASH ITS HBC ASSORTMENT

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Publix Super Markets here has been dramatically cutting its health and beauty care mix through efficient product assortment, according to several industry sources.The 430-store chain recently cut more than 100 items from the HBC section in a two-week period. The cuts were made in all areas, including hair coloring, shampoos, hair care items and cough-and cold medicines. To replace

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Publix Super Markets here has been dramatically cutting its health and beauty care mix through efficient product assortment, according to several industry sources.

The 430-store chain recently cut more than 100 items from the HBC section in a two-week period. The cuts were made in all areas, including hair coloring, shampoos, hair care items and cough-and cold medicines. To replace the lost HBC stockkeeping units, the chain is aggressively expanding grocery SKUs, according to one industry observer, who did not want to be identified.

"Publix is applying the old 80-20 law -- that you can do 80% of your business with 20% of your stockkeeping units," said another source. Clayton Hollis, vice president of public relations at Publix, declined to comment on the chain's evaluation of its HBC product assortment.

As part of a variety-vs.-duplication study conducted a year ago, the retailer reduced its diaper SKUs. The primary work this year has been in paper towels, toilet tissue and HBC.

Publix is now conducting product assortment re-evaluation to determine which HBC brands are generating 80% of all business, it was said. "Publix has discovered they get far better results when they cut down their [assortment] and put the emphasis on a few 'power SKUs.' The first category to be targeted has been shampoo. And there they went from about 300 SKUs to between 140 and 170, so they cut down dramatically and they feel they can grow their business significantly by doing that," said a source.

"Besides shampoos, they are [also] looking at whittling down deodorants and dentifrices," the source added.