Zellers battles back on size and selection

Garnet Kinch says Zellers is not prepared to give up marketshare to anybody, and not only is it going head to head with competitors such as Wal-Mart on price, it also intends to fight them on store size and merchandise selection.It...

Garnet Kinch says Zellers is not prepared to give up marketshare to anybody, and not only is it going head to head with competitors such as Wal-Mart on price, it also intends to fight them on store size and merchandise selection.

It has been a year since Kinch moved from vice-president of advertising to vice-president of stores at Zellers.

In his new role, Kinch has focused much of his attention on enlarging and redesigning store layouts.

The average Zellers store is about 75,000 square feet, putting it at a disadvantage with rival Wal-Mart with its typical 120,000-sq.-ft. locations.

Kinch says his goal is to expand most of Zellers’ more than 290 stores to at least 90,000 square feet through expansion or acquiring new sites.

‘It’s very expensive, but we felt it was very important to have updated stores, and be competitive on size, and to ensure the space, we need to be able to get an assortment of merchandise that is comparable to Wal-Mart,’ he says.

Last year, Zellers renovated 62 of its larger stores. Nearly 60 of the locations were outfitted with new pharmacies.

Kinch says Zellers will add 20 stores yearly for the next five years, beginning this year.

Several stores are now being built at 125,000 square feet, and this fall will see the opening of two superstores, a 145,000-sq.-ft. location in Gatineau, Que. and a 140,000-sq.-ft. store in East York, Ont.

Among the standard features of the stores will be a pharmacy, a restaurant, three or four concessions, and expanded selections of hard goods and fashions.

Kinch says the redesign also gives more space to customers in aisles and checkouts.

As well, he says the new sites will create a better customer service atmosphere, with the service, exchange and refund, and Club Z at the front of the store rather than in back. PS