SAVE MART BEEFS UP PIZZA, SNACKS

MODESTO, Calif. -- Save Mart Supermarkets here has dished out more space for frozen pizza and snacks in a chainwide reset of its frozen food departments scheduled for completion this week.The chain, which has 83 supermarkets and seven warehouse stores, began restructuring frozens about a month ago, according to Pat Brooks, director of frozen food, dairy and deli."We are redoing our frozen food schematics

MODESTO, Calif. -- Save Mart Supermarkets here has dished out more space for frozen pizza and snacks in a chainwide reset of its frozen food departments scheduled for completion this week.

The chain, which has 83 supermarkets and seven warehouse stores, began restructuring frozens about a month ago, according to Pat Brooks, director of frozen food, dairy and deli.

"We are redoing our frozen food schematics and are adding a lot of items. We're resetting all stores," Brooks said. "We've added a lot of new products. We took a look at our numbers to identify items that were not performing."

Once finished, the process will have taken five weeks, he said. "We're trying to redo all our sets before Halloween week because then we're right into our holiday season."

A proliferation of new direct-store-delivery frozen pizzas and frozen snacks, as well as a need to sift out redundant items, spurred the reorganization of frozens, Brooks noted.

"We wound up adding about another 12 running feet to our pizza sections," he said.

Save Mart expanded its frozen pizza space about two years ago, but the continued influx of additional DSD items warranted even more space, according to Brooks.

"We feel we've been a little bit underspaced on pizza," he explained. "With the introduction of Tombstone pizza two years ago, the Tony's and Red Baron pizza, and now with the DiGiorno [rising crust] pizza rolling in, we have added extra space in all of our stores for pizza. And we have added another door to our handheld snack items."

With the reset, the chain will have two freezer doors for snacks, many of which had been located in the pizza area. "What we did was create a little section," he said. Snack items include Hot Pockets and Lean Pockets, pizza rolls, pretzels, Bagel Bites, egg rolls and Cheese Bites.

"The Bagel Bites are doing an excellent job for us, and we're getting our stores set for Dynabites. And we've added some more flavors to our Hot Pockets and Lean Pockets line," Brooks said.

To get additional room for pizza and snacks, space for some frozen vegetables was cut. "We scaled down a little bit in our polybag vegetable section. In order to get the extra door for the snack section, we took most of that from polybag vegetables," Brooks said.

"What we tried to do was go through [that section] and find duplicated items, some of which were three or four times duplicated. We still have selection and variety in polybag vegetables, just fewer brands."

At some Save Mart stores the frozens department was enlarged, he said. "In our new stores, we're definitely adding freezer space, and in many of our remodeled stores we're adding more frozen and refrigerated space."

When Brooks spoke with SN earlier this month, the chain was fortifying its selection of frozen baked sweets -- primarily pies -- to prepare for the upcoming fall and winter holidays.

"We are gearing up with more baked goods. We haven't seen a lot of activity in it, but in October, November and December we should see a lot more activity," he said.