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News Briefs

  • 5/9/2023

    Trader Joe’s Adds Another Suncoast Location in Florida

    Trader Joe's Teaser

    Another Trader Joe’s is coming to the Sarasota area in Florida. The California-based retailer revealed it is working on a new location to service a growing population in that market.

    The latest store at 8473 Cooper Creek Boulevard in University Park is expected to open later this year. No specific opening date was shared.

    [Read more: "Trader Joe’s Employees Mark Unionization Win in California"]

    Trader Joe’s already operates a store in the city of Sarasota, in addition to locations in nearby St. Petersburg and Tampa. The planned site in University Park will be the 23rd Trader Joe’s in Florida.

    On May 5, the grocer opened its latest U.S. outpost in Cypress, Calif. As the retailer expands its footprint, it is also rolling out its latest seasonal items, including summer-inspired jalapeno limeade, patio potato chips and tomato ketchup with black summer truffle, to name a few.

    With more than 500 stores in 40-plus states, 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. PG also named the company as one of its Retailers of the Century.

  • 5/9/2023

    Grocery Tech Providers Pool Efforts for Greater Personalization


    E-commerce solutions provider Mercatus has teamed up with U.K.-based SaaS tech company Eagle Eye to enhance grocers’ digital offerings with more targeted digital promotions. The collaboration allows retailers to leverage Eagle Eye’s consumer engagement platform and Mercatus’ platform for real-time, actionable customer data.

    That kind of information leads to tailored shopper experiences that ultimately build loyalty, according to company leaders. “By partnering with Eagle Eye, we are able to offer our clients cutting-edge customer engagement solutions that will revolutionize their e-commerce experiences and help them stay ahead of the competition,” declared Sylvain Perrier, president and CEO of the Toronto-headquartered Mercatus.

    [Read more: "Mercatus Rebuilds Mobile Commerce App for Grocers"]

    Echoed Tim Mason, Eagle Eye’s CEO: “We are excited to collaborate with Mercatus and bring our customer engagement solutions to their impressive roster of grocery clients. Together, we will enable grocery retailers to build deeper connections with their customers and capitalize on the rapidly evolving first-party e-commerce landscape.”

    Going forward, the companies will explore new ways to leverage their combined expertise and technology offerings to drive growth and create value for their clients. Mercatus, for its part, offers a digital commerce platform used by retailers including Weis Markets, Save Mart brands, Brookshire’s Grocery Co., Kowalski’s Markets, Buehler’s Fresh Foods, WinCo Foods, Smart & Final, Stater Bros. Markets, Southeastern Grocers’ Fresco y Más, Harveys Supermarket and Winn-Dixie grocery stores among others. Eagle Eye’s current customer base includes Southeastern Grocers, Giant Eagle, Loblaw, Woolworths, Asda, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose, among others.

  • 5/8/2023

    Talking Rain Taps Coca-Cola Vet for Key Role

    Talking Rain Beverage Exec Teaser

    Talking Rain Beverage Co., with a portfolio that includes the Sparkling Ice line of drinks, has named Katie Giesler as VP of sales, national accounts. She will oversee a team that services retailers such as The Kroger Co., Albertsons Cos., Walmart, Target Corp. and others.

    Most recently, Giesler led commercialization and marketing for Utah-based Swire Coca-Cola, which produces, sells and distributes Coca-Cola products in 13 states in the Western U.S. She held several roles at The Coca-Cola Co. over the years, including VP of national retail sales for Target and VP of national retail sales for the Western region, and started her career at Coca-Cola Enterprises as a district sales manager.

    [Read more: "EXCLUSIVE: How PepsiCo Is Cracking the Code for 1-on-1 Customer Engagement"]

    She said she hopes to take the Snoqualmie, Wash.-based beverage company to new heights during her tenure. “Talking Rain has an impressive track record of innovation, and I'm excited to be a part of the team that will continue to drive growth and success. I look forward to working with my new colleagues to strengthen relationships, build distribution, and grow our organic sales,” Giesler remarked.

  • 5/8/2023

    NGA Foundation Welcomes SEMTAC Project Director

    NGA Brielle Underwood Teaser

    The National Grocers Association Foundation has hired Brielle Underwood as its project director for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Electronic Benefit Transfer (SNAP EBT) Modernization Technical Assistance Center (SEMTAC), effective May 1. 

    Underwood comes to the foundation from The Food Trust, in Philadelphia, where she was a project manager overseeing the organization’s farmers’ market programs and helping with grant reporting and evaluation. A graduate of Berkeley College, in Newark, N.J., with a bachelor of science degree in business administration, Underwood is based in New Jersey.

    [Read more: "NGA Takes U.S. Senator on D&W Fresh Market Store Tour in Michigan"]

    “We look forward to working with Brielle as she leads the efforts to further SEMTAC’s objective to assist more grocers in getting on board with online SNAP,” said NGA Foundation Director Chelsea Matzen. “She comes to the project with extensive experience navigating federal guidelines and working with advisory groups. She’s also spent the past year earning a software testing and quality assurance certificate, which will go a long way toward building out our TA tracker and assisting retailers with their SNAP online vendor options.” 

    SEMTAC will instruct retailers on the federal requirements for SNAP EBT modernization, including online purchasing and mobile payment programs.

    The foundation received a $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) to establish a technical assistance center that will lead grocers through the process of implementing online SNAP grocery purchasing. SEMTAC will pave the way for a greater number of smaller grocery operators to offer SNAP online purchasing, making them more competitive and better able to provide service to food-insecure Americans. 

    The NGA Foundation is the 501(c)3 nonprofit arm of the Washington, D.C.-based National Grocers Association (NGA), the trade organization representing the independent sector of the food distribution industry.  

  • 5/8/2023

    Walmart Names Latriece Watkins Chief Merchandising Officer

    Walmart Latriece Watkins Headshot

    Walmart Inc. has promoted Latriece Watkins to the role of chief merchandising officer, effective immediately, according to an internal memo from John Furner, president and CEO of Walmart U.S., as reported by various media outlets.

    Watkins succeeds Charles Redfield, who is leaving after more than three decades with the retailer.

    A native of McGehee, Ark., Watkins has spent the past 24 years in various merchandising roles, as well as in leadership positions in human resources and operations, for Walmart and Sam’s Club. Her most recent position was EVP of consumables for Walmart U.S. In his memo, Furner noted that she helped grow sales revenue via supplier partnerships and licensed innovation.

    “We have a rich history of strong leaders who embrace this constant change, set bold visions for our teams and best represent the humanity that is Walmart,” he wrote. “I have long admired those qualities in Latriece Watkins. Her enthusiasm, talent and deep experience helped establish the omni-merchandising strategy we have today, and her focus on customers and members will only strengthen our position in the future.”

    Watkins joined Walmart as an intern in the company’s real estate division while pursuing a law degree at the University of Arkansas, which she earned in 1999. Watkins also has a bachelor’s degree in political science from Spelman College.

    Each week, approximately 230 million customers and members visit Walmart’s more than 10,500 stores and numerous e-commerce websites under 46 banners in 24 countries. The Bentonville, Ark.-based company employs approximately 2.3 million associates worldwide. Walmart U.S. is No. 1 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.

  • 5/5/2023

    Milwaukee Co-Op Names New GM

    Ray Simpkins

    The community-owned Outpost Natural Foods Cooperative in Milwaukee has appointed Ray Simpkins as its new general manager. He succeeds the exiting Pam Mehnert, who is retiring after a 42-year career with the co-op.

    Simpkins will leverage two decades of experience in his GM duties. He has served in leadership roles at several national retail chains, most recently as a district manager for Dollar General in Columbus, Ohio. His background also includes positions as a club manager for Sam’s Club, store director for Fresh Thyme Farmers Market and a store manager for The Home Depot. He earned an MBA from Strayer University and a bachelor’s degree from Wright State University.

    [Read more: "PCC Reveals Progress on ESG Goals in 2022 ‘Co-op Purposes Report’"]

    “After a nationwide search, we are thrilled to have found a general manager who brings such a rich background and extensive experience in grocery retail,” said Ashley Fisher, president of Outpost Natural Foods’ board of directors. “Ray’s an energetic team leader with a passion for customer service. We’re excited to watch him excel at Outpost.”  

    Simpkins said he will hit the ground running when he joins the co-op on May 22. “I can’t wait to move to Milwaukee and meet Outpost employees, owners, shoppers and community partners,” he remarked. “Together, we’ll continue to create healthy, diverse, and sustainable communities by offering the area’s largest selection of regionally and locally sourced organic products, all within an engaging consumer experience.” 

    With 23,000 owners, Outpost has four co-op locations, including one in the city of Milwaukee and others in the nearby suburbs of Mequon, Wauwatosa and Bay View. The retailer was founded in 1970 and currently employs nearly 360 people. Customers do not have to be an owner/member to shop at Outpost stores.

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