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Coborn’s Drives Center Store Growth

LAS VEGAS — Center Store sales at Coborn’s Inc. are being fueled by focused strategies ranging from supplier partnerships to enhanced in-store displays, said Andy Knoblauch, senior vice president of merchandising.

Speaking during a session at The NGA Show here, Knoblauch pointed to four categories in particular — cereal, coffee, baby and pet — in which Coborn’s has built destination strategies.

“We have to make sure we’re on target all the time with suppliers,” he said in discussing partnership objectives in the cereal category.

The retailer uses cross-merchandising and ties into periods when manufacturers drop FSIs, he said.
Coborn’s drives its Pet Club sales through strategies including pet points, signage, dedicated pet endcaps and a newly introduced Pet Club in-store coupon book.

“Vendor partners are great at supporting this,” he said.

Jon Hauptman, vice president, Willard Bishop, said the industry needs to focus more energy on building up Center Store.

“Many retailers have differentiated themselves in the perishables departments, but you can’t forget about Center Store,” he said. “It really delivers profits.”

Dave Jones, vice president of industry initiatives, Kellogg’s, said trading partners need to carefully monitor shopper demand to determine which Center Store strategies to pursue.

“The industry can seize this opportunity,” he said.

Paul Cooke, vice president, industry development, Nestlé Purina PetCare, said it’s important to analyze how customers shop the store in order to “create a total-store experience.”

He added that too often the focus is on product-centric strategies rather than consumer-centric.

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