SECOND NEW JERSEY WEGMANS IS BEAUTY-FILLED

ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Wegmans Food Markets here has changed its health and beauty care look in the Garden State.With its second New Jersey location, a 120,000-square-foot unit in Bridgewater, the retailer has re-configured a number of health and beauty care categories, the most noticeable being its beauty department.Compared to Wegmans' first store in the state, opened in Princeton in August 1999, the

ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Wegmans Food Markets here has changed its health and beauty care look in the Garden State.

With its second New Jersey location, a 120,000-square-foot unit in Bridgewater, the retailer has re-configured a number of health and beauty care categories, the most noticeable being its beauty department.

Compared to Wegmans' first store in the state, opened in Princeton in August 1999, the beauty department now resides in the back half of the store, rather than in the front.

Within the Bridgewater beauty department, Wegmans has moved its Bath Shop closer to skin care to take advantage of the category synergies, observers noted. The Bath Shop is one of the major focal areas within the Bridgewater beauty department and it includes a large presentation of Body Image products from Paris Presents, Gurnee, Ill. Rather than merchandising bath in traditional wicker baskets, the unit is using metal tubes resembling floral containers. The bath assortment is rounded out by San Francisco Soap, Simply Be Well and Sinclair & Valentine. Additionally, Wegmans merchandises its own private-branded bath products.

The retailer has also put youth appeal into the new beauty mix, presenting a wide variety of offerings to younger customers.

Within color cosmetics, Wegmans has put an emphasis on fun products for children. There is a four-foot section within cosmetics devoted entirely to juvenile products and dominated by Cosrich properties such as Barbie, Teletubbies and Dalmatians. Cosrich is a subsidiary of PMC Global, Sun Valley, Calif.

The traditional color cosmetics lines include Maybelline, L'Oreal, Cover Girl, Revlon, Olay and Neutrogena. During the late fall grand opening, Wegmans distributed samples and coupons of Olay Complete Radiance compact foundation using powder to paper sampling technology. L'Oreal offered a $1-off coupon for hair color.

The hair care department was stocked with all of the major salon brands such as Sebastian and Rusk. Hair care, natural beauty and cosmetics are all close to the pharmacy, resembling a sort of drug store within the store.

Natural products are crucial to Wegmans, as part of the retailer's Nature's Marketplace store-within-a-store format, which merchandises all-natural beauty care and wellness-related products.

In an effort to break away from offerings found in conventional grocery chains, Wegmans features specialty offerings such as Masada and Burt's Bees.

The store also features a new program called Value Club -- beauty packs to help convince customers that, despite its elegant presentation, the store offers good values. However, a spot check of beauty prices found them to be slightly higher than competitors in the market.

The advent of Wegmans into New Jersey has sent other supermarkets scampering to upgrade their assortments, observers noted. Industry sources have estimated that the Bridgewater unit will reach the $80 million sales mark within its first full year of operation. Another Wegmans' unit is expected to open in the state later this year.