New VP at Laurel Grocery to Oversee Growth Initiatives

LONDON, Ky. - Laurel Grocery Company, a privately owned wholesaler based here, has tapped Jack Hubbs to oversee its ambitious sales and development initiatives for 2005 and beyond.

As Laurel Grocery’s new v.p. of sales, development, and retail technology, Hubbs will be responsible for helping grow sales and profits for the wholesaler’s independent retailers, as well as gaining new retailers in neighboring states such as West Virginia and Illinois, and overseeing construction of new stores and remodels for its existing retailers. He will also oversee retailers’ technology needs in the area of P.O.S. and computers.

In an interview with Progressive Grocer, Jim Buchanan, president and c.o.o. of Laurel Grocery, explained some of the initiatives that Hubbs will help manage. “We’re in the process of developing our own frequent shopper/customer loyalty program. We currently outsource information gathering to a third party, but we’re looking at bringing that in house,” Buchanan said.

“Another major goal is to prepare our retailer customers in Ohio and Indiana for the expansion of Wal-Mart supercenters in those states. We’re currently part of a task force through Topco in Chicago, but we’re also developing our own task force,” noted Buchanan. He estimated that 51 percent of the company’s current volume is going to be affected by Wal-Mart supercenters in the next three years.

Laurel Grocery is crafting a turnkey program that would help retailers compete with Wal-Mart on several fronts, Buchanan said. In addition to implementing the loyalty card program, the wholesaler is expanding the number of items in its TPR (temporary price reduction) initiative. The goal is to have 2,500 items included by Feb. 1, according to Buchanan. The rollout of the full turnkey program is slated for late March.

Buchanan said Hubbs brings a wealth of knowledge in the wholesale arena to Laurel, having served as the president of a division for Fleming in Kansas City. He also owned two successful supermarkets and served as president of two large retail supermarket groups.

Hubbs replaces Rick Davis, who recently became e.v.p. for Smith and Woods, a large Knoxville, Tenn., retail customer of Laurel. Laurel Grocery Company serves 417 stores in seven states.

-- Jenny McTaggart
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