Kinney Drugs aims to remodel over a dozen locations next year as part of long-term rollout of a new store concept.

Kinney Drugs, new store concept, latest format, drug chain, Rick Cognetti Jr., Craig Painter, retail merchandising, drug stores, pharmacy, new store prototype

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More Kinney Drugs stores to adopt latest format

November 11th, 2011

GOUVERNEUR, N.Y. – Kinney Drugs aims to remodel over a dozen locations next year as part of long-term rollout of a new store concept.

So far, 50 stores have been converted to the new format, with 15 more remodelings slated for 2012, according to Rick Cognetti Jr., vice president of retail merchandising at Kinney. Overall, the drug chain has 72 stores in upstate New York and 19 in Vermont.

Kinney began revamping its drug stores five years ago to tailor them to its primary shoppers: women age 55 and older, and women age 35 to 54.

To emphasize that health, beauty and personal care are its core product areas, the chain gave category managers the opportunity to expand particular segments. Cough/cold, for example, was increased from 20 feet to 24 feet. All told, some 2,500 SKUs were added per store, bringing the average total number of items to a little over 15,000, not counting beverages and direct-store delivery products.

At the same time, a clear path was created to the pharmacy, and gondolas were repositioned to give the pharmacists increased visibility from all over the store. The beauty area was opened up with realigned aisles and more footage for some segments, including skin care and cosmetics.

To make room for the added SKUs, toy and giftware sections were downsized. "They’re still important pieces to Kinney. We just adjusted the way we buy the programs using more in-and-out buys during holiday seasons versus everyday mix," Cognetti said in an interview with Chain Drug Review.

Categories such as cosmetics and skin care receive more space in Kinney's latest store format.

"The pleasant surprise was that while we increased cosmetics, skin care, hair care and health in the rollout, we still can expand them further," he explained. "That's what I like about this set. Category managers have the leeway to do more."

The candy section was boosted from 24 feet to 48 feet, and the pet department was extended from 16 feet to 28 feet. Pet supplies are doing so well the footage probably could be doubled, noted Cognetti. In today's economy, older households with dogs and cats are driving the business, he said, citing the relatively high emotional rewards and low cost of pet ownership.

Also expanded were food, beverages, household paper and chemicals. "It wasn't just health and beauty and taking away toy and gift," Cognetti noted. "It was pretty much growing most of the important drug store areas."

One quandary for the new store prototype was clothing. The segment had always been strong, but displaying the products was a challenge, according to Cognetti.

"So we carved in an aisle in the beauty quadrant (thinking of the female shopper). It has continuity. We sell lots of T-shirts, socks and undergarments," he said. Stores also have promotional apparel such as pullovers and sweatshirts. Most locations have end-caps of clothes with the insignia of the local high school, while Syracuse area outlets have Syracuse University apparel.

The renovated stores have significantly outperformed older units, added Cognetti. "That's why we're continuing to roll them out," he said.

Accompanying the conversions was ramped up advertising, with the number of circulars boosted to 53 from 17 five years ago. "When you look at our competition and what they’re doing," Cognetti said, "we feel good about the mix in our stores, and we definitely feel good about our advertising package."

With a more than 100-year-old heritage, Kinney has quietly grown into a diversified company with 91 drug stores, a pharmacy benefits management company and an institutional prescription ­business.

"We're not necessarily concerned with how many stores we have or how big our chain is," Kinney chairman and chief executive officer Craig Painter told Chain Drug Review. "We try to stay more focused on what we do with the stores we have."