News Briefs


Skai Launches Retail Media Advertising With Kroger

Skai Launches Retail Media Advertising With Kroger

Skai, an intelligent marketing platform, has revealed a first-to-market retail media integration with Kroger's network, Kroger Precision Marketing. Skai is among only three of the retailer's partners to be granted inaugural access to Kroger's application programming interface (API), empowering Skai clients with best-in-class activation coupled with purchase data from the grocer. 

Skai's unified platform offers advertisers cross-channel insights, streamlined workflows, automated actions and enhanced reporting fueled by comprehensive commerce intelligence using near-real-time data. In-house experts provide advertisers with the guidance, advice and best practices to leverage both Skai's and Kroger's data for maximum performance.

Early adopters are already achieving strong performance with product listing ads for both shopper retention and acquisition. "What Skai brings to the table for Kroger Precision Marketing is the ability to optimize and drive efficiency that we just don't have in the native platform," said Willy Blesener, senior director of retail media at Irvine, Calif.-based Advantage Solutions.

Kroger serves 11 million daily customers and more than 50% of American households. Ninety-six percent of all sales at the company are tethered to a loyalty card. Kroger Precision Marketing connects customers to brands to inspire purchases online or in-store. According to research by Kantar and Catalyst, Kroger Precision Marketing is a leader in ROI delivery for CPG brands.

"Given the meteoric rise of online grocery shopping over the last few years, our first-to-market Kroger integration will help advertisers reach their customers where they are," said Gil Sadeh, chief growth officer at Skai, which has its North American headquarters in San Francisco.

With almost 2,800 retail food stores under a variety of banner names, Cincinnati-based Kroger is No. 4 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.


Tops Hires Supply Chain Coordinator

Tops Hires Supply Chain Coordinator

As supply chain issues remain top of mind in the industry, Tops Friendly Market is getting a new pro specializing in that area of business. Priscilla Repka is joining the company as supply chain coordinator for Tops’ Center Store.

In this role, Repka will work with merchandising teams, C&S, suppliers and the warehouse operation to ensure in-stock positions for all of its locations.

Before moving to Tops, she was a director at a national logistics company in New York. Repka also spent several years in operations management for a trucking company in the region.

Tops is continuing its hiring spree, seeking associates and professionals across several areas. More information on open positions is available at

Williamsville, N.Y.-based Tops Markets LLC operates 150 supermarkets, including five franchise stores, and employs more than 14,000 associates in New York, northern Pennsylvania and western Vermont. The banner’s parent company, Northeast Grocery Inc., is No. 44 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. 


URM Foods Execs Receive NGA Spirit of America Award

NGA Spirit of America Award URM Foods Teaser

National Grocers Association (NGA) President and CEO Greg Ferrara has presented NGA’s Spirit of America Award to Ray Sprinkle, president and CEO of Spokane, Wash.-based distributor URM Foods, and Mike McShane, URM’s VP of procurement and profit centers. The executives received the honor at the Washington Food Industry Association’s Connect! Meeting, in Tacoma.  

Since 1982, the Spirit of America Award has been presented to individuals who provide leadership in the areas of community service and government relations, and are committed to a free and independent food distribution system.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, industry leaders like Ray Sprinkle and Mike McShane have dedicated their time and expertise to tell our industry’s story to lawmakers, moving the needle towards solutions that benefit America’s independent community grocers,” noted Ferrara. “They have focused on urging lawmakers and federal agencies to enforce existing antitrust trust laws that protect independent grocers from anti-competitive tactics. NGA’s success toward reviving and enforcing the Robinson-Patman Act can be directly attributed to the hard work of industry leaders like Ray and Mike.”

“Mike and Ray’s efforts have been valuable during NGA’s efforts and strong voice over the last several years urging Congress and FTC to enforce antitrust laws and explaining how the supply chain works so that members of Congress and the public can understand this often complex issue,” added Chris Jones, SVP of government relations and counsel at Washington, D.C.-based NGA. “They told the story of how rural communities rely on their local independent grocers and the impact that the growth of power buyers has had on retailers, local communities and suppliers.” 

There have been more than 550 recipients of the NGA Spirit of America Award, including past U.S. presidents George Bush and Gerald Ford, former Vice President Dan Quayle, former Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Colin Powell, and former Speaker of the House Tom Foley. This past March, Randy Arceneaux,  president and CEO of Amarillo, Texas-based wholesaler Affiliated Foods, received the award for his efforts to advance antitrust reform, as well as the guidance he provided to independent grocers amid the pandemic. 


Carrefour Adds Plastic Bag Alternatives in UAE


Following a new government policy that bans single-use plastic in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Carrefour is introducing plant-based bags made of starch across locations in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Each bag will cost 25 fils, or about 7 cents, and take less than six months to fully decompose.

The grocer, owned and operated by Majid Al Futtaim in the UAE, will make the bags available in Abu Dhabi on June 1 and in Dubai on July 1. Carrefour will also have reusable bags made of paper, woven, juco, and canvas materials, and has partnered with the Emirates Nature-World Wildlife Fund on three limited-edition reusable bags.

“Of all the plastic ever made, half has been produced in the last 15 years, which is why we were the first UAE retailer to introduce reusable bags back in 2007. We have come a long way since then and, since 2019, we have sold 4 million reusable bags at Carrefour stores across the UAE,” said Bernardo Perloiro, COO, UAE, at Majid Al Futtaim Retail. “With the implementation of the new policies in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, it is our duty to ensure customers have the most convenient, cost-efficient options.

“The starch bag, which costs only 25 fils, is an industry first in this region and we are confident that it will be widely implemented by more retailers in the future,” Perloiro continued. “We fully embrace the new government direction, which bans single-use plastic bags in Abu Dhabi. Through constant innovation and close collaboration with our government and partners, we can continue to deliver the best shopping experience for our customers.” 

Carrefour hopes to incentivize customer purchases of new reusable bags through its loyalty program by offering bonus SHARE points.


Grocery Store Audio Ad Provider Reveals Series B Funding

Hy-Vee Secures Audio Out-of-Home Partnership

National retail audio advertising provider Vibenomics has raised $12.3 million in Series B funding to facilitate the launch of additional national networks in grocery stores, pharmacies and convenience stores. The round was led by tech venture fund Panoramic Ventures. 

Vibenomics established itself in the audio-out-of-home market after teaming with Kroger in May 2020. Last year, Vibenomics saw its most significant growth, introducing its first proprietary media player to deliver music, messaging and programmatic advertisements to each network partner’s individual locations. By mid-2021, the company had rolled out various demand-side platforms to become what it said was the first and only programmatic digital audio-out-of-home solution for advertisers. 

“This funding validates our investors’ belief in the future of Vibenomics and what we’re building,” noted Brent Oakley, CEO of Indianapolis-based Vibenomics, which has 180 advertisers in 15,000-plus locations across 49 states, reaching more than 250 million unique monthly listeners. “AOOH’s value, impact and ability to scale allows retailers to provide a positive, in-store customer experience. We’re anticipating another record-breaking year in 2022, and these funds will enable us to continue innovating and accelerating product developments, building on our momentum.” 

Earlier this year, the company joined forces with Hy-Vee, adding another 400 locations across the Midwest. Vibenomics plans to expand to more than 20,000 locations by end of 2023. 

“We believe that Vibenomics’ innovative approach to in-store audio advertisements in that industry gives us significant leverage to capitalize on a growing market,” said Paul Iaffaldano, general partner at Atlanta-based Panoramic Ventures.

With nearly 40 employees at present, Vibenomics anticipates increasing its workforce by 25%, specifically in sales and marketing, by the end of this year.

Cincinnati-based Kroger is No. 4 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America, while West Des Moines, Iowa-based Hy-Vee is No. 30 on PG’s list.


New Gourmet Grocer Planned for Arizona


A new upscale grocery store is coming to Scottsdale, Ariz. Set to open this summer, Gastromé Market will carry an array of specialty products and include an onsite café and education space.

The 5,000-square-foot location at 7704 E. Doubletree Ranch Road is geared to gourmands. In addition to specialty foodstuffs, shoppers can browse a unique cheese case, pick out candies from a confectionery counter and shop for charcuterie spreads and goods. Locally foraged produce and other fresh produce will be available as well.

In the café, shoppers turn to patrons as they can order charcuterie boards and other menu items. Classes will be held in that space, dedicated to different topics and tastings.

The store and restaurant are opened by Tiffany Chavez and Jenny Le, who previously worked at Formaggio Kitchen in Boston.