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Schnucks Format Gets Extreme Makeover

COTTLEVILLE, Mo. -- Easier to shop. Easier to operate. Easier to build. These were three key principles behind the new prototype store for Schnuck Markets, Inc., a ground-up 63,000-square-foot unit that opened here today.

"Every department was evaluated and analyzed to make sure it was the sight size and included the right mix of products and services,"the St. Louis-based chain's director of facilities engineering, Ross Hutsel, told Progressive Grocer. "It's a very efficient floor plan--we still kept the 63,000-square-foot footprint, but were able to widen the aisles from 7 to 8 feet."

While still distinctly Schnucks, the Cottleville Marketplace, the chain's 102nd store, has a more modern look and feel, according to Craig Schnuck, chairman and c.e.o. "We believe most people simply want a home environment that is clean, comfortable and conducive to what's going on in their family's lives. We want our customers to have that same level of comfort in their grocery store," Schnuck said. "The reality is that although everyone has to eat, there are more choices of where to shop for groceries now than ever before. We want to give them more reasons to shop at Schnucks now and in the future."

Schnucks facilities engineering department worked with Canadian-based Perennial Inc. to design the interior and exterior store environment around a new floor plan. "Our goal is always to make the very best use of the space we have in every location," said Hutsel. "Each time we build a new store, we test different ideas to determine which designs and materials work best and are most cost efficient. The Schnucks Cottleville Marketplace is a culmination of all we have learned in recent years."

The new store was also designed with efficiency in mind. "Our engineering staff has implemented a blueprint that saves steps for customers and associates," said Schnuck. "We have, by design, several smaller stores within a larger store. Our customers will be able to move easily through more spacious aisles, saving time and steps in the process. Likewise, our associates will save time in stocking with fewer steps from the back storage rooms to the display cases." Schnuck said additional savings were realized through lighting and equipment changes.

Hutsel added that Schnucks would roll out the new design with the construction of additional new stores in Eureka (a replacement store), Jennings (consolidation of the Dellwood and Jennings stores in the Northland Shopping Center) and Bettendorf, Iowa. "Everything we do is geared towards enhancing our customers' shopping experience," he said.

Among the specific elements of the new design:
--The Deli and Chef's Express departments are located at the front entrance (adjacent to the produce section) making it easier for customers to "grab and go" prepared meals.
--The ratio of service to self-service in various departments was adjusted based on shopper convenience.
--Floral was moved to the front of the store
--Although the Cottleville location doesn't have drive-up service, the pharmacy department was moved to the left front corner of the store model, for future locations that will have drive-up.

"We present the pharmacy and HBC departments together as a 'Healthy Living' section," added Hutsel.
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