LANGHORNE, Pa. -- Genuardi's Family Markets has catapulted its in-store bakery into the limelight at a new store here.
Presentation and added product varieties are credited with pushing the department way ahead in terms of contribution to total store sales, said Ray Taglialatela, director of perishables merchandising for the 27-unit Norristown,Pa.-based chain.
"The department is contributing 4.8% of sales, a company high for bakery," Taglialatela said. He added that the store with the next-highest rate of performance hits a store-sales percentage about midway between 3% and 4%.
The 62,000-square-foot store, the company's largest yet, not only improves presentation and adds variety, it also devotes extra space to bakery. The department is 20% bigger than the chain's nearest in size, Taglialatela said. During a recent visit to the store, SN noticed that the bakery looks big and airy. At the end of the fresh-food power aisle, a large area against the back wall is devoted to the department. Floor space in front of the bakery counters is ample.
"When they get to this point, customers can take a deep breath and have room to look around," Taglialatela said. What they see when they get there is a combination service/self-service bagel station with doored bins containing 15 varieties and an adjacent display of flavored packaged cream cheeses. The best-seller is a plain bagel, a store-level source said.
The bagels are brought into the store already formed, and then are boiled and baked just behind the counter, in view of customers. A single bagel sells for 40 cents; with plain cream cheese or jelly, 85 cents; with flavored cream cheese, $1.49.
The bagel program is new here. In most other Genuardi stores, bagels are brought in, already baked, from local suppliers.
Beyond the bagel station, in-line displays are dominated by interesting-looking breads, and about 36 feet of tiered shelves in line are devoted to breads. That's in addition to a stepped, island display table that shows off a selection of Italian breads.
In addition to allocating more space to bakery here, the variety of products has been raised substantially, Taglialatela said.
New here are pan focaccias and a line of Old World style breads, baked in-store. Taglialatela pointed out that the demographics are ideal for bread and bagel sales here.
"This was the place to introduce the bagel program. You have to have the right demographics, and we do here. It's a relatively young crowd, in the upper-middle- to upper-income groups -- people in their 30s and 40s with young children and good disposable-income levels. We're marketing this store to them," he said.
"It was evident on opening day that they reached a comfort level immediately. They were buying everything. They loved the focaccia, for example," Taglialatela said.
He added that, based on sales here, the chain will add the bread programs, and possibly more fresh-baked bagel stations, at stores where there are similar demographics.
"We'll definitely roll out some of what we're doing here to selected stores, with minor adjustments," Taglialatela said.
"We couldn't do [the breads and bagels] at Royersford [Pa.] because the demographics are so different -- more blue-collar and an older group. By contrast, Royersford is a phenomenal doughnut store. There's a big breakfast crowd there, with a lot of socializing going on," he said.
At the store here, relatively little space is devoted to doughnuts, but the long-bread line is capped with an 8-foot refrigerated service case that displays upscale, gourmet pastries such as tortes and fruit flans. Petit fours and cannoli are also merchandised in the case. The cannoli are made in-store. Of the other pastries, most are sourced from outside, but some are finished in-store, Taglialatela said.
Two attention-grabbers were a Granny Smith apple caramel pie at $2.99 a slice, and decorated, double-layer, individual birthday cakes, no more than 4 inches in diameter, for $1.99. Turtle cheese cake, at $2.49 a slice, was an eye-catcher, too.
When customers at this store want something sweet, they splurge with really rich gourmet pastries, Taglialatela said.
While the majority of items in the bakery are offered self-service, a perception of service is created by the open production, and by the unwrapped loaves of bread displayed behind glass at the top of self-service displays. The breads behind glass are almost at eye-level, which bolsters the chain's stated philosophy of "surrounding you with food," Taglialatela said.
Pan focaccias include quattro formaggi, tre funghi, cracked-olive, sun-dried tomato and basil, pepperoni and cheese and spinach with feta cheese. The retails range from $2.49 for pepperoni and cheese to $2.99 for tre funghi. The customer favorite is spinach feta, according to a bakery associate behind the counter.
The Old World breads, baked off from frozen dough, include cranberry walnut, Kalamata olive-rosemary, rustica, sesame semolina, tomato rosemary and chocolate. The latter two run neck and neck as best-sellers, said an associate, who recommended chocolate bread, spread with cream cheese, as "delicious."
In addition to the extensive lineup of breads, walk-around displays on stepped tables and slant tables offer everything from sticky buns -- a regional favorite -- to muffins and pies. Decorated quarter-sheet cakes, too, at $11.59 are merchandised in a refrigerated island case.