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SAFEWAY GROOMS PET-CARE DEPARTMENT

DENVER -- Driven by competition from pet-care category killers in its operating area, Safeway's Denver division has doubled the size of its pet-accessories department to 18 feet.That move, coupled with a remerchandising effort undertaken with W.N. Klein & Son, a local rack jobber, has resulted in pet-care sales increases of 73%, according to Dan Lindau, W.N. Klein's president.The larger pet-care sets,

DENVER -- Driven by competition from pet-care category killers in its operating area, Safeway's Denver division has doubled the size of its pet-accessories department to 18 feet.

That move, coupled with a remerchandising effort undertaken with W.N. Klein & Son, a local rack jobber, has resulted in pet-care sales increases of 73%, according to Dan Lindau, W.N. Klein's president.

The larger pet-care sets, which the 115-unit Denver division began rolling out to stores this summer, have allowed Safeway to double stockkeeping units to about 800, increasing the variety of rawhide products, which are one of the faster-moving pet-supply segments for the retailer, Lindau said.

Safeway wanted "to better compete with the rapid expansion of large pet superstores under way in this market," he said.

Pleasanton, Calif.-based Safeway's pet-supply category manager here had no comment.

During the remerchandising process, Safeway moved some items closer to the pet-food section to trigger impulse sales, Lindau said.

These items were shelved, pegged or set out in bins, with cat toys and supplies placed next to cat food and cat litter; dog toys and rawhide next to dog food and dog treats; and small-animal and bird supplies next to bird food.

"Moving the pet-supply items closer to mainstream pet food generates unplanned purchases and contributes more of a store-within-a-store ambience," Lindau said.

Since W.N. Klein, based here, took over ordering responsibilities from store-level clerks last December, out-of-stocks in pet care have been significantly reduced, and the display's appearance has improved, Lindau said. The racker "knew what sells, and made sure the shelves were full," he said.

The new pet-supply planogram offers increased assortments in all categories, including small-animal, fish, cat and dog supplies, he said.

The rawhide and chew-bone segment "does very well in this market," accounting for 35% of Safeway Denver's pet-supply sales, he said. "We're frontier people out here, and many pet owners have large dogs."

Under the new schematic, bulk rawhide products at some Safeway units are now merchandised in 9 feet of bins and pegged in 9 feet of space above the bins. Rawhide is priced starting at 99 cents, going up to $12.99 for value packs.

After rawhide, overall best sellers are pet toys priced around $2.99 and small packages of litter for $1.99, Lindau said.

A strong pet-supply segment elsewhere, "chemical [sales] aren't big here because there is no flea problem," he explained.

W.N. Klein supplies the new pet-accessory mix directly to the division's stores from its warehouse. Manufacturers previously delivered directly to Safeway's stores, where store-level clerks ordered, received and stocked the product.

Clerks must still receive and shelve pet supplies due to union requirements, Lindau explained.