SUITE OF STRATEGIES TO REVIVIFY THE FOOD RETAIL BUSINESS

Much of the food distribution industry was to gather in Chicago at the weekend for five big events. Leading the slate is the annual Food Marketing Institute convention at McCormick Place. That show is to be joined there by four others this year. They are: the United Produce convention, All Things Organic, The Fancy Food Show and U.S. Food Export Showcase.Each event has its own exhibit space and activities.

Much of the food distribution industry was to gather in Chicago at the weekend for five big events. Leading the slate is the annual Food Marketing Institute convention at McCormick Place. That show is to be joined there by four others this year. They are: the United Produce convention, All Things Organic, The Fancy Food Show and U.S. Food Export Showcase.

Each event has its own exhibit space and activities. In all, the five shows are expected to occupy about a million square feet. Attendees can move among the exhibit spaces as they like.

In preparation for those events, SN editors have prepared a suite of related news features on the theme of "Remaking Spaces." One feature, or more, on the theme appears in each SN section. Together, the features show how supermarket operators are revamping stores and sharpening merchandising techniques in a bid to strengthen their business proposition against other food retailing formats. Each is identified by the logo inset above.

Here's some of what you'll find in each of the sections in this week's SN: RETAIL/FINANCIAL: The opening pages feature several news features, each highlighting how an operator has brought something new to the table to enhance the business proposition. You'll see features on: Supervalu's Save-A-Lot; Safeway's "lifestyle" format; Albertsons' dual-branded locations; Kroger's Marketplace units; Schnuck's new model; Delhaize's Sweetbay and Bloom stores; and A&P's Fresh Market and Food Basics concepts. The presentation starts on Page 20.

NONFOOD STRATEGIES: The traditional view of nonfood products in supermarkets is that they can return superior margins. Despite the encroachment of discounters into the sales of such products, that can still be the case with the use of techniques such as store-within-a-store merchandising and co-branding with other nonfood retailers. A section feature offers examples of what supermarket operators are doing. Page 95.

FRESH MARKET: The good news about fresh product is that it tends to sell itself. But it doesn't hurt to add a little merchandising finesse to the mix, too. In this feature, you'll see how various operators are boosting sales using techniques ranging from graphics, to department placement to demonstrations. Page 103.

CENTER STORE: This department can be challenging, especially since all supermarkets tend to sell much the same product in center store. But there are ways to inject some life into the department and foster differentiation at the same time. Some techniques that work involve flooring, lighting and gondola enhancements to add to the shopping experience. See more in the news feature that starts on Page 133.

TECHNOLOGY & LOGISTICS: How will technology change the look of the supermarket in the next decade or so? This news feature endeavors to find out, based on faint stirrings now rustling. Among the innovations that may become commonplace in years to come are kiosks, digital advertising displays, point-of-sale displays and more. The technology is available now; the question is, how will it evolve in the future? Page 145.