HOUSTON -- Randall's Food Markets here has teamed up with a leading gourmet coffee supplier in a merchandising program for the growing specialty coffee category.
Randall's will make available a full line of flavored, blended and varietal coffees from Brothers Gourmet Coffee, Denver, at all of its stores by late July, said company officials.
The selection will include Brothers' prebagged coffee in 12-ounce polyfilm bags, whole-bean bulk coffees and fresh-ground coffees in cans and a one-pot trial size.
To date, Randall's gourmet coffee offering has consisted of First Colony specialty coffee and product from a local supplier. Now, the 71-store chain is looking to go exclusively with Brothers products, according to Mike Perry, grocery buyer.
Perry said Randall's plans to heavily promote the new program, using a combination of broadcast commercials and print ads.
"From Day One, we have not gotten behind our whole-bean business," he said. "But with Brothers' strong marketing program -- the sampling, the displays -- and us taking a more aggressive stance, I think it's going to do a lot for our business.
Randall's is ordering fixtures now for in-line aisle displays, Perry noted. "We've got Brothers coffee in some of the stores we purchased from AppleTree, because they already had it," he said. "Tom Thumb stores will go to Brothers, as well." Tom Thumb is owned by Randall's.
Along with the whole-bean, in-line displays, some Randall's outlets -- including a Simon David in Austin, Texas -- will feature Brothers' end-aisle displays, known as Brothers Club Cafes. The cafes will be staffed by a manager who will offer shoppers brewed samples and tips on selecting and brewing at home.
Starting next month, Randall's will begin to install full-service coffee bars in three stores. By next year, approximately 10 stores should be operating the new bars.
The program represents the first time Brothers has gotten coffee bars into supermarkets. The coffee vendor will staff both the Club Cafes and coffee bars.
Each new coffee bar will have a bank of 20 units of Brothers Keepers, which are 60 inches high and hold 15 pounds of coffee. The keeper is a vacuum holding tank that dispenses the product in quarter-pound measures. The beans fall into a polyfilm bag, which is then vacuum-sealed.
Cindy Crane Garbs, Randall's director of marketing, said, "We have heard nothing but rave reviews about the product, and thought it was a good fit for the discerning taste of our customers."
Dennis Boyer, president and CEO of Brothers, agreed that Randall's upscale emphasis provides fertile territory for gourmet coffee sales. Boyer said, "Their philosophy, coupled with the compatible demographics between Randall's shoppers and gourmet coffee consumers, should make this a winning proposition for both of us, as well as for our new consumers."