The National Grocers Association (NGA), the trade organization representing the independent grocery industry, has revealed several new hires to strengthen its advocacy and member services teams.
Stephanie Johnson (far left in photo) joined Washington, D.C.-based NGA as VP of government relations, in which she’ll be responsible for the organization’s food and nutrition issues, and will advise the NGA Foundation on federal nutrition program grant work. Johnson previously worked in the office of U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., as a legislative assistant. A registered dietitian, Johnson brings food policy and public health experience to NGA. She also spent four years working for two independent grocery stores, where she saw firsthand how federal policies, including the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program, affect community grocery stores and their customers.
Max Wengroff (second from left), NGA’s new executive assistant, will provide support for the leaders of the association’s government relations, industry relations and communications teams. He was previously a federal legislative associate for environmental policy group Environment America.
Kelly Hanson (second from right) has come aboard as the new project assistant for the NGA Foundation. Hanson has experience in project management and early-childhood nutrition. She worked as a program specialist for the Iowa Association for the Education of Young Children and as a public health nutritionist for the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.
Josh Anderegg (far right), the new project manager for the NGA Foundation’s Technical Assistance Center, previously ran a mobile food market for the Pittsburgh Food Bank that offered nutrition incentives, among other endeavors.
Robomart, which offers a pioneering store-hailing service fleet of on-demand mobile mini-marts, has teamed with Englewood Cliffs, N.J.-based Unilever to offer a virtual storefront, The Ice Cream Shop. Unilever will deploy a fleet of Ice Cream Robomarts this summer in Los Angeles, featuring treats from such Unilever ice cream brands as Ben & Jerry’s, Breyers, Good Humor, Magnum ice cream, and Talenti.
Using a patented one-tap grocery ordering technology, consumers can hail The Ice Cream Shop Robomarts to their location using the company’s proprietary mobile app. When the vehicle arrives, the user swipes across the app to open the door. A checkout-free system allows consumers to remove their selected products and walk away without physically checking out or swiping a credit card.
“We’re excited to work with Unilever – the world’s largest ice cream maker – to pilot The Ice Cream Shop as one of the flagship storefronts on our new marketplace,” said Ali Ahmed, CEO and co-founder of Santa Monica, Calif.-based Robomart, which originally launched in Los Angeles in 2021. “Putting a spin on the classic ice cream truck by bringing it to consumers on-demand, we have pioneered a new way for everyone to get their favorite ice cream treats in as little as two minutes. This rollout brings to life the original vision my co-founder and I had over a decade ago while working at Unilever to create ‘The Everywhere Store’ – the fastest and most accessible way to get all your essentials.”
“Our pilot program with Robomart is revolutionizing ice cream delivery for consumers and making it even faster to get our beloved brands to our ice cream fans,” said Russel Lilly, general manager, Unilever North American ice cream. “What better way to shop for your favorite ice cream than just a few steps from your front door?"
H-E-B has started construction on a new store in Georgetown, Texas, which will replace an existing location less than a mile away. The new store will have a larger footprint and provide customers with an expanded product selection, along with more services and features.
The new H-E-B store will be located at 1010 W. University Avenue in the Wolf Lakes Village neighborhood. It is expected to be complete sometime in spring 2023 and will replace the 67,000-square-foot store at 1100 South I35, which opened in 1989. That location will remain operational until the new store opens.
At 121,000 square feet, the new store will reportedly have the feel of a European village, relating to the character of the surrounding neighborhood, and feature two entry towers and pedestrian-friendly surroundings. The store will tout a two-story True Texas BBQ, H-E-B’s barbecue restaurant. Other amenities will include a pharmacy with two-lane drive-thru, patient education and nutritional services; a full-service bakery and tortilleria; a Meal Simple area with chef-inspired options for quick meal planning; Sushiya, offering handmade sushi selections made in-store daily; Texas Backyard, offering products for grilling, gardening and outdoor entertaining; a fuel station and car wash; and H-E-B Curbside and Home Delivery.
All H-E-B employees will be given the opportunity to transfer to the new location once it is complete. H-E-B plans to hire another 100 associates to staff the new store, employing more than 450 associates in total.
In celebration of the new store’s groundbreaking, H-E-B donated $5,000 each to several area organizations.
The Fresh Market is going on a giveaway spree as part of an incentive campaign. The retailer announced a sweepstakes for members of its Ultimate Loyalty Experience that awards “fresh food and more” for a year.
Participating shoppers can enter via transactions that occur between now and June 28. One guest at each of the grocer’s 160 stores will win a $200 reloadable gift card for The Fresh Market for 12 consecutive months. The prize also includes an $800 cash award paid by check.
Customers can also enter without making a purchase by logging into their member account and submitting a free entry form online during the sweepstakes period. Winners will be announced in July.
"Imagine getting free money each month for an entire year to spend on all the things you love best about The Fresh Market — top-quality meat and produce, fresh-from-the-bakery desserts, ready-to-eat meals and more," declared Jeff Snyder, the retailer's director of loyalty and email marketing.
In addition to special offers and digital coupons, The Fresh Market’s loyalty program features purchase frequency programs dubbed “The Club Hub.” Guests can earn free items or savings on favorite items in five categories, including the Market Meal Kit Club, Artisan Cheese Club, Whole Panini Club, Floral Club and Coffee by the Cup Club.
Bringing storytelling and educational information to the beer and wine aisle, Texas grocer H-E-B has rolled out the Loop video platform to 120 of its stores. The videos will share producer stories as well as topics like nutrition, tasting notes and pairing suggestions.
The Loop platform, introduced by shopper education firm Looma, uses a network of smart tablets to help retailers inform purchasing decisions and further connect shoppers with their products. The system rolled out at Schnuck Markets last year and is also utilized at Harris Teeter and Lowes Foods.
"Working with H-E-B has been an immense privilege," said Cole Johnson, founder and CEO at Durham, N.C.-based Looma. "The care and attention to detail with which they evaluated our partnership from day one has affirmed Loop's effectiveness and product-market fit; while lending us industry-leading counsel as we've sought to refine and evolve our offering."
As Conagra Brands, Inc. seeks to modernize its grocery and snack portfolio, it has named a new leader to guide that process. Lucy Brady will take the helm of the company’s grocery and snacks group beginning on June 15.
In this key role, she will guide the company’s brands, including Slim Jim, Duncan Hines and Angie's Boomchickapop, among others, to meet consumers’ shifting preferences and demands. Well suited for the position, Brady most recently served as chief digital customer engagement officer and SVP of corporate strategy, business development and innovation for McDonald's Corp. Her background also includes a 19-year tenure with Boston Consulting Group, where she advised large consumer companies on growth innovation and transformation.
Brady is a graduate of The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and earned an MBA with highest honors from Stanford’s graduate school of business.
"Lucy has a tremendous background and proven leadership skills that will be critical as we continue to grow our successful grocery and snacks business," remarked Tom McGough, EVP and co-COO at the Chicago-based Conagra Brands. "We're excited to have Lucy join Conagra and build on the momentum we have created for our iconic and emerging brands."