ORLANDO, Fla. -- As a new 59,000-square-foot Albertson's unit here illustrates, the chain continues to roll out its Better Care Pharmacy concept nationwide, and as it does so it is refining the format.
The 12981 Orange Blossom Trail store, which opened last month, is the latest under Albertson's "Plaza" formats. (See related SN stories, Pages 25 and 35.) The Plaza format merchandises both food and nonfood departments as full-blown destinations, and the Better Care concept, which was launched three years ago to integrate pharmacy with health and beauty care, fits perfectly into that design. Florida received its first Albertson's Better Care Pharmacy and extended HBC and cosmetics sections this spring. This is Albertson's fifth Better Care Pharmacy under the Plaza format among its more than 120 stores in the state. It plans to place Better Care pharmacies in all new and renovated stores, according to a company official.
"They have wisely assessed the need to have both independent drug stores and pharmacies in their supermarkets," said Jonathan Ziegler, a San Francisco analyst with Salomon Smith Barney, New York. "[Although] they've traditionally been a combination operator, they've recognized how powerful it is to have drug stores at every corner." What makes the Orange Blossom Trail store different from others is its signage and overall look and feel within a targeted neighborhood market. Sources say the pharmacy has more of a "corner drug-store" feel than others do in the Plaza format.
Set at the front of the store in a separate room, the 1,000-square-foot pharmacy has an "Express Drop-Off" window for shoppers' convenience. It has a large counter with chairs set to the side for private consultation with the pharmacist.
The placement of products near the pharmacy signifies a whole health emphasis rather than the use of any special signage. Directly in front of the pharmacy counter are 24 feet of vitamins and dietary supplements. A separate table promoted Your Life vitamins at 50% off.
An open view of the pharmacy is presented to those shopping the OTC and cosmetics sections. About 2,000 square feet of space are devoted to both OTCs and beauty care. Although OTCs take prime real estate on four low-profile gondolas that run 28 feet, cosmetics are positioned at the center of the store behind the HBC aisles. This is a departure from traditional Albertson's stores that shuffle the sections along the perimeter walls.
Fixturing also is unique. "This store seems to be urging customers towards the cosmetics aisles," commented one store patron. A large pink 6-foot oval cosmetics sign hangs over the section, drawing shoppers' attention to the department. Smaller matching signs hanging at the ends of the cosmetics aisles denote 12 feet of bath and body care as well as 8 feet devoted to lotions and 8 feet to facial care.
Together, about 72 linear feet comprise cosmetics that feature the leading mass-market makeup brands. Naturistics body wash and Calgon bath products are cross merchandised in the section. An 8-foot stretch down one cosmetics aisle is devoted to makeup accessories such as sponges, brushes and cotton swabs. Another 8 feet are devoted to nail care and press-on nails. Endcaps feature various cosmetics products, including body sprays, press-on nails and nail polishes. A secured 12-foot glass perfume and cologne case faces cosmetics and makes up the "back wall" of the HBC department.
Hair coloring merchandised in 12 feet also is a bigger section, and includes products used by African-American and Hispanic customers, according to store director Curt Rockwood. About 50% of the store's shoppers are Hispanic.
The Boise, Idaho-based retailer, which merged with American Stores, Salt Lake City, earlier this year, presently operates more than 2,400 stores in 38 states.
Last year, the chain generated $625 million in prescription sales and was ranked No. 15 among all three channels of trade.