RALEY'S MAKING OVER HBC DEPARTMENTS

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Raley's has embarked on a program of overhauling health and beauty care departments throughout the chain.The move, which involves resetting and replanogramming the entire HBC department, is a long-term project that's expected to be completed by the end of the year. "We've accomplished putting in new schematics in about four or five of the mostly smaller categories -- toothbrushes,

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Raley's has embarked on a program of overhauling health and beauty care departments throughout the chain.

The move, which involves resetting and replanogramming the entire HBC department, is a long-term project that's expected to be completed by the end of the year. "We've accomplished putting in new schematics in about four or five of the mostly smaller categories -- toothbrushes, hair colorings, the men's shaving and razor section, cough drops and foot care," said Dan Black, buyer-merchandiser for general merchandise and HBC.

As Raley's assesses its HBC mix, it also is reformulating package counts and cutting slower moving stockkeeping units, based on scan data that shows their movement and profitability.

"This may involve cutting down excess sizes, such as going to three from five sizes in some items, as we go through the departmental mix. For example, in analgesics the 500-count is now our largest package and we probably would drop it to a smaller count size. The larger count sizes mostly are in the $10 to $12 retail price range, and many shoppers can't spend that much at one time."

To illustrate this, Black pointed to the 72-count Tylenol gelcaps with an easy-open twist-off cap well suited for senior citizens. He said that size has become "very popular. "It's used by many consumers on a fixed income, but moving to a larger count gelcap in that brand means you're moving to a higher-ticket range."

While overall HBC section footage will remain unchanged,

Raley's will probably allocate more space in cough and cold to liquid gels instead of liquids, and to a wider cough drop variety in line with the broader selections introduced during the past year, Black said.

Although Raley's started remerchandising its HBC departments last summer, it had to temporarily halt the project for a while to concentrate on new stores that were being opened, Black said.

As it resumes the replanogramming and department realignments, the next categories scheduled for revamping will be cough and cold and feminine hygiene. The HBC sections are being remerchandised as stores are remodeled and updated, Black added.

Bringing the HBC sections up to speed has been a gradual process.

"It's been a little more involved than we had anticipated in the beginning, what with the constant introduction of new items into the categories once they're planogrammed. You get set and here comes a whole slew of new items that we really can't ignore, especially if there is heavy manufacturer ad activity behind them.

"With a lot of manufacturer advertising behind new items from suppliers like Procter & Gamble you can't say we'll wait six months. That would mean you'd be letting a competitor beat you to the punch."

Black said once the initial resetting has been completed, "we sometimes must then continue to constantly update the schematic. It depends on the item or brand, manufacturer and the level of activity there may be in the market for that newly introduced product."

Part of the HBC realignment involves shifting over to higher-profile gondolas to take advantage of overhead space. This will enable Raley's to benefit from extra display space for the product mix, and any future expansion for categories.

Black said the HBC makeover involves getting into 72-inch-high fixtures as stores are refurbished to bring the section's presentation in line with grocery gondolas already in place. HBC racks now are mostly lower-profile 60-inch-high racks. "We want to add the 12 inches of space to make them the same height all the way across."

According to Black, the new racking will allow Raley's to test new 12-foot departments.

HBC at Raley's is usually positioned adjacent to the pharmacy department, at the back of the store.