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News Briefs

  • 10/17/2022

    Trader Joe’s Plans 3 More Openings Before Year’s End

    Residents in the Washington, D.C., area will soon have a new Trader Joe’s to browse. The grocer revealed that it is putting the finishing touches on a location in College Park, Md., that could open by the end of this year.

    The latest Trader Joe’s will welcome shoppers at 4429 Calvert Road in College Park, which is in Prince George’s County and about four miles from the nation’s capital. The retailer operates eight stores in Maryland, including sites in Annapolis and Bethesda, and has five locations in D.C. proper.

    [Read more: "Trader Joe’s Samples Make a Triumphant Return"]

    As it puts down roots in a new Maryland community, Trader Joe’s pledged that it will help provide food assistance to area residents through its Neighborhood Shares program.

    In addition to the news about the College Park store, Trader Joe’s shared updates about other upcoming openings around the country. Two more locations are expected to open yet this year in Tigard, Ore., at 16200 SW Pacific Highway, and in Providence, R.I., at 425 S Main Street. The retailer also announced its store in Draper, Utah, will be unveiled in 2023, making it the fourth Trader Joe’s in that state.

    With more than 500 stores in 40-plus states, Monrovia, Calif.-based Trader Joe’s is No. 27 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America

  • 10/18/2022

    FreshRealm Hires Amazon Pro to Expand Fresh Meals Business

    Rob Law

    Reflecting the growth and potential of the fresh meals category, meal solution provider FreshRealm has created and filled a new position of chief strategy officer. The company revealed that Amazon vet Rob Law will serve in that role, spearheading design and expansion plans and overseeing product innovation across private label and branded fresh meal solutions.

    As he steers FreshRealm’s strategy, Law will leverage his background in channel development, product marketing and platform development. In his most recent role at Amazon, he helped lead the e-tailer’s home meal replacement business unit and build Amazon Kitchen’s fresh meals business. Law also was a core member of strategic teams at Starbucks Coffee and Brooks Running.

    "Rob is a transformative leader with a track record that proves an unparalleled ability to create offerings that disrupt the status quo and meet untapped consumer demand," said Michael Lippold, FreshRealm’s founder and CEO. "The fresh and prepared meals category is undergoing astounding growth, and, with the appointment of Rob to our leadership team, FreshRealm continues to be best-positioned to help retailers create Fresh Meals destinations based on what consumers want today."

    Law, for his part, said that he is looking forward to help expand FreshRealm’s business of providing end-to-end fresh meal retail solutions. "Not only is the fresh meals category seeing tremendous expansion, but FreshRealm itself is also experiencing incredible momentum as an organization, making it a thrilling time to join this industry-leading team," he remarked.  

    Founded in 2013 in Ventura, Calif., FreshRealm is in a strong position for expansion, recently completing a $200 million round of capital funding.

  • 10/18/2022

    Axonify, Achievers Bring Advanced Rewards to Front-Line Workers

    Grocery Cashier Teaser

    Axonify, a leader in front-line employee training and communications, has formed a strategic relationship with Achievers, an employee experience software platform. This strategic relationship will expand Axonify's existing digital offerings for mutual customers and strengthen the overall front-line employee experience.

    According to Axonify research, nearly 42% of front-line workers are prepared to leave their current jobs. While higher compensation is certainly a factor in their willingness to stay, front-line workers are also looking for more on-the-job appreciation and training and skills development opportunities if they're going to grow with a company. 

    [Watch video: "Closing the Skills Gap in Grocery"]

    Through this strategic relationship, mutual customers of Axonify and Achievers' will have an easier way for employees to access their rewards and receive recognition for their achievements. Accomplishments earned from training and learning in Axonify can be transferred to the Achievers platform, where employees can either select their reward from Achievers' reward catalog or keep collecting points. This real-time recognition using the Achievers' platform will empower employees to continue developing their skills for the future, which in turn, improves employee retention, revenue and the customer experience. 

    "With so many overlapping customers in the retail and grocery sectors, it was only natural that we establish a relationship with Axonify," said Jeff Cates, Achievers' CEO and president. "We look forward to working together to deliver a more robust rewards experience to this highly engaged customer base and offer the Achievers Employee Experience Platform to front-line workers."

    "Front-line businesses are currently stuck in a vicious cycle, experiencing high levels of employee turnover with a limited pool of talent to tap into. With no relief in sight as we enter the crucial holiday shopping months, these businesses can ill-afford to lose more of their current workforce," added Carol Leaman, CEO and co-founder of Ontario, Canada-based Axonify. "In partnering with Achievers, we're able to provide an ecosystem that creates a better work experience, offers a breadth of rewards and recognition and keeps front-line workers better trained, which will lead to longer-term employee retention and a less stressful holiday season."

  • 10/17/2022

    FMI Urges Americans to Use Coins

    Pile of Coins Teaser

    FMI – The Food Industry Association is encouraging U.S. shoppers to help increase coin circulation during “Get Coin Moving” Month in October to support fellow Americans and businesses that rely on coins for everyday cash transactions amid ongoing circulation disruptions.

    “The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated shifts in consumer habits about how they purchase goods and services, with increases in online shopping and credit or debit card use impacting the circulation of legal tender like coins,” explained Leslie G. Sarasin, president and CEO of Arlington, Va.-based FMI. “These shifts have resulted in large quantities of coins sitting idle in the 128 million households across America instead of flowing through commerce. Unfortunately, this means that businesses like grocery stores have a harder time making change for cash transactions, and consumers who rely on cash have difficulty securing the coins they need for everyday food and goods purchases at our stores.” 

    Added Sarasin: “We cannot mint ourselves out of this situation. It is critical that Americans do our part to get coin moving by returning coins back into circulation. We call on all Americans to spend or donate their idle coins, deposit coins at financial institutions or redeem them at coin kiosks.”

  • 10/17/2022

    Shipt Adds to C-Suite

    Shipt officers

    Shipt is shoring up its operations for future growth with two executive appointments. The delivery company revealed that it has hired Alia Kemet (left) as chief marketing officer and promoted Smrutha Ipparthi (right) to chief product officer.

    Kemet brings with her more than 20 years of marketing skills and industry insights to oversee brand, creative, consumer insights and growth marketing at Shipt. Most recently, she served as SVP of global creative and digital transformation at McCormick & Co. She also held marketing roles at Whole Foods Market, Nike and IKEA.

    Ipparthi’s elevation to chief product officer comes after a successful tenure as Shipt's VP of engineering. In her new position, she will oversee the company’s product design teams to create solutions that meet the needs of shoppers, partners and customers. Prior to Shipt, she worked as a chief technology officer at Arteza and as VP of engineering for the mobile app, site marketing and merchandising at Macy’s.  

    The leadership updates come as Shipt is widening its scope to meet the needs of today’s shoppers, including its recent foray into the health and wellness market. "As we move into the next era of our business, Alia and Smrutha will bring incredible industry expertise to our team," said Kamau Witherspoon, Shipt CEO. "Their collective experience and success in driving businesses forward in new and creative ways will be instrumental as we continue to evolve to meet the needs of our customers, partners, drivers and shoppers."

    Reporting to Witherspoon, the latest additions said they are looking forward to making a difference. "I've admired the company's commitment to innovation, which is rooted in creating exceptional experiences and celebrating every step of the delivery journey. I'm thrilled to lead a team that is driven by creativity and forward thinking,” remarked Kemet.

    Added Ipparthi: "I'm honored by the opportunity to further Shipt's reputation as a brand that not only listens to the needs of customers, shoppers and retailers, but uses data to create innovative, personal and one-of-a-kind experiences."

    Shipt is an independently operated, wholly owned subsidiary of Minneapolis-based Target Corp., which is No. 6 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. Founded and based in Birmingham, Ala., Shipt also maintains an office in San Francisco.

  • 10/14/2022

    Overall Retail Sales Flat in September, Grocery Sales Edge Higher

    Cash register

    A day after the U.S. Labor Department confirmed a continued spike in food prices, the U.S. Census Bureau is out with its own information on the toll of inflation. According to the department’s advance estimates of U.S. retail sales for September, while overall retail sales were essentially flat last month compared to August, higher prices helped spur a 0.4% increase in grocery sales.

    Estimated monthly sales at grocery stores were up 8.4% from September 2021. On an adjusted basis, grocery sales topped $71.1 billion in September versus $70.9 billion in August. The nine-month total for 2022 grocery sales: $624.73 billion.

    Analysts reacting to the latest round of data noted that a slowdown in retail spending, coupled with higher prices, portend a climate of caution, at the very least. 

    "Grocery has clearly been impacted by inflation, and gas prices hiking back up will keep grocery prices high for the time being. People are also adopting a couple different mentalities amid inflation: either to stock up and gain savings that way, or to buy more frequently in lower quantities because they can’t afford to stock up," observed Chip West, retail and consumer behavior expert at Vericast

    "Consumers will continue to trade down to discount and dollar stores where they can," he continued. "As grocery store prices continue to be high due to inflation, we see people weighing the cost of food at home versus eating out and noticing little difference in cost. This entice them to eat out more in place of buying groceries, unless inflation comes down and groceries become more affordable."

    Greg Daco, chief economist at New York’s EY-Parthenon, echoed that concern in a Reuters report. “While consumers remain willing to spend, many families, especially those at the lower-to-median end of the income spectrum, are feeling increasingly constrained by elevated prices and rising interest rates," Daco said.

    The advance retail sales estimates came as a bit of a surprise. Before the government's announcement, Wall Street economists had pegged a 0.3% increase in overall retail sales for September.

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