New Bi-Lo/Bruno's Chief to Up 'Sustainable Value' for Customers

MAULDIN, S.C. -- Working with consulting firms Willard Bishop and Karabus Management will help regional chain Bi-Lo/Bruno's better differentiate from its competitors, and ultimately build a "sustainable value equation" for its shoppers, the retailer's new president and c.e.o., Brian Hotarek, told Progressive Grocer on Friday.

"This is a great opportunity for us - it's what we consider to be the next phase of our planning process, or our repositioning, to really enhance our relationship with our customers," Hotarek noted. "That means building a sustainable value equation strategy that makes us even more appealing to our customers."

That value equation goes beyond just offering affordable prices, he explained. "It includes recognizing that our customers are more discerning than they ever were, and that they have more shopping options than ever before. It encompasses great customer service, clean stores, and the other basic fundamentals of what makes a successful supermarket retailer."

The consultancy partnership will also help Bi-Lo/Bruno's get the most of its recent investments in technology - including the implementation of new systems from DemandTec, Inc. - as part of a review of all current business processes.

"As a result we'll become more efficient, and as a byproduct, we'll be able to reinvest in the top side to drive sales and provide value for our customers," Hotarek said.

Brand new to his post as c.e.o. -- but otherwise well experienced in the business - Hotarek said taking over at Bi-Lo/Bruno's has been a "seamless transition" so far. A former Ahold c.f.o., Hotarek has served on Bi-Lo's board of directors since July 2006, which gave him a chance to get to get to know the company and its leadership better.

"I know I can rely on the management team that's in place," he said. "I knew them before now, and my experience has allowed me to recognize how I can utilize their talents, skills, and knowledge."

As for the future, Hotarek admitted that change is "absolutely inevitable - it's part of the dynamics of this business." But, he noted, "This is a point in time where we're poised for success, and I think everyone here is excited about it."
-- Jenny McTaggart
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