WESTERN BEEF PLANS NO-FRILLS STORE PROTOTYPE

RIDGEWOOD, N.Y. -- Western Beef here plans to introduce a price-impact store prototype this year in the New York City borough of Queens, Peter Castellana Jr., president, told SN.The format, slated to be 10,000 to 12,000 square feet, would sell a bare-bones selection of no-frills groceries and some packaged perishables but would carry no major brands and have no service departments, Castellana said."It's

RIDGEWOOD, N.Y. -- Western Beef here plans to introduce a price-impact store prototype this year in the New York City borough of Queens, Peter Castellana Jr., president, told SN.

The format, slated to be 10,000 to 12,000 square feet, would sell a bare-bones selection of no-frills groceries and some packaged perishables but would carry no major brands and have no service departments, Castellana said.

"It's not a labor-intensive store. Mostly it's pack out and you take -- a very basic, cost-cutting operation," he explained. "It's really designed for the low-income community to give them a real value for food. Consumers who buy their food needs from this store could save anywhere between 25% and 35% off a normal food bill and get all quality products."

The urban-area supermarket chain still was in negotiations to purchase the store site as of late last month, according to Castellana, who noted that the company has made no definite plans to roll out the concept. "We have preliminary plans drawn, and we're going to see how it takes off," he said.

"I think there's a very big market for it. We feel this would do very well in the low-income community," Castellana added.

Western Beef also reported first-quarter results for the 13 weeks ended March 29. Net sales rose 17.4% to $79.35 million from $65.57 million a year ago, primarily due to three new stores that opened after first-quarter 1995, according to the company, which opened its 18th store last month in Manhattan. Net income for the quarter climbed 53.4% to $1.26 million from $797,000, and same-store sales were up 1%. Earnings per common share rose to 23 cents from 15 cents.