News Briefs


Rite Aid Commits $1M to EmbraceRace to Accelerate Racial Equity Initiatives

Rite Aid Diversity Teaser

Rite Aid Healthy Futures has committed an additional $1 million to EmbraceRace to support its work helping children learn about race in healthy, identity-affirming ways.

Founded in 2016, EmbraceRace drives progress by creating and curating tools, resources, discussion spaces and networks that parents, early-childhood educators and other adults need to raise children who are thoughtful, informed and brave about race. The organization aims to reach more than 5 million parents and caregivers by 2025.

[Enter Progressive Grocer’s 2023 Impact Awards honoring ESG efforts]

The latest funding from Healthy Futures will support EmbraceRace’s continued creation of self-directed online resources for parents and guardians interested in learning and strengthening their caregiving practices. The grant will also fund new place-based groups that bring together people in the organization’s early-childhood community, as well as EmbraceRace’s field infrastructure, evaluation tools, and a national conference attracting many leaders and practitioners in the field.

Rite Aid Healthy Futures is entering its fourth year of partnering with EmbraceRace. The latest grant builds upon $1 million issued to EmbraceRace in 2020, which helped the Amherst, Mass.-based organization become an emerging leading voice in the early racial learning community.

“EmbraceRace addresses the critical need to ensure racial awareness, learning and sensitivity are introduced to kids at early ages,” said Matt DeCamara, executive director of Rite Aid Healthy Futures. “At a time when it’s so important to work for racial understanding and equity, their programs provide parents, caregivers and educators with the resources to guide kids through the constant challenges associated with bias and discrimination. Rite Aid Healthy Futures is proud to support EmbraceRace as it meets this moment of great need and influences the futures of countless children and families.”

Philadelphia-based Rite Aid operates 2,300-plus retail pharmacy locations across 17 states. The company is No. 21 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.


Walgreens to Offer Virtual Supplier Diversity Summit

Walgreens Interior Teaser

Walgreens has become the latest retailer to offer a Supplier Diversity Summit. Scheduled for the week of March 28, the virtual showcase for diverse businesses and entrepreneurs will give participants across the country the opportunity to meet Walgreens’ merchandising team, pitch their products and receive feedback, with the ultimate aim of gaining placement in their local Walgreens stores.

During the event, Walgreens will work to boost sourcing from suppliers that are at least 51% owned, operated and managed by people who are disadvantaged, disabled, military veterans, LGBTQ+, minorities and/or women.

[Read more: "Walgreens Continues Consumer Health Care Push in Q1"]

“Meeting the needs of our diverse patients and customers is imperative to our role as America’s community health care destination.” noted Alethia Jackson, SVP of environmental, social and governance and chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer at Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. “We are looking forward to connecting with diverse suppliers that will ensure our shelves benefit everyone, providing a wider selection of products and services.”

The summit will focus on grocery and household, beauty and personal care, health and wellness, and general merchandise, among other categories. All sourcing and product submissions will be made through ECRM company RangeMe’s online product discovery and sourcing platform. Solon, Ohio-based ECRM will qualify suppliers, create curated meeting schedules and facilitate face-to-face virtual meetings with Walgreens buyers. All meetings will be conducted via ECRM’s virtual meeting platform, ECRM Connect.  

Included in the U.S. Retail Pharmacy and U.S. Healthcare segments of Walgreens Boots Alliance, Deerfield, Ill.-based Walgreens operates nearly 9,000 retail locations across the United States, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and is No. 5 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.


SpartanNash Kicks Off Annual Special Olympics Campaign

SpartanNash SO

SpartanNash has long counted on customers to be good sports when it comes to supporting the Special Olympics. The Michigan-based food solutions company is kicking off its annual in-store fundraising campaign to support Special Olympics athletes, including 16 of its own employees.

From now through Feb. 19, shoppers at SpartanNash-owned stores and fuel centers can donate by rounding up their purchase or giving an additional $1, $5 or $10 at checkout. Online donations are accepted through the company’s Fast Lane program.

This marks the 39th year that the SpartanNash organization has teamed up with Special Olympics. To date, the SpartanNash Foundation has donated nearly $9.9 million to the cause.

Participating banners include Family Fare, D&W Fresh Market, VG’s Grocery, Supermercado Nuestra Familia, Forest Hill Foods and Ada Fresh Market. Donations at those stores will go directly to Special Olympics affiliate organizations in the states of Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

“We consider SpartanNash part of the Special Olympics family,” said Tim Hileman, president and CEO of Special Olympics Michigan. “Not only are they actively involved in making sure our athletes are able to attend State Summer Games, they are on the sidelines cheering them on as they compete. It’s advocates like SpartanNash who are empowering our athletes, providing them the support and resources to spread a message of inclusion statewide.”

SpartanNash’s core businesses include distributing grocery products to independent and chain retailers, its corporate-owned retail stores, and U.S. military commissaries and exchanges, as well as fresh produce distribution and fresh food processing. No. 41 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America, the Grand Rapids, Mich.-based company serves customer locations in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. SpartanNash also operates 147 supermarkets and employs 17,500-plus associates. 


Save A Lot Aims to Update, Expand Core Merch Systems

Save A Lot New Look Store Teaser

Supermarket chain Save A Lot has selected SymphonyAI Retail CPG for data-driven supply chain solutions that aim to provide more accurate end-to-end insights and enable grocers to better meet shopper needs while reducing stockouts and substitutions. Among the solutions that Save A Lot is implementing are Master Data Management (MDM), Core Merchandising, Insights, Vendor Portal and Retail Operations.

“At Save A Lot, we have undertaken a strategic transformation from grocery retailer to licensed wholesaler,” said Jennifer Hopper, the company’s CIO. “With SymphonyAI Retail CPG technology, we get best-in-class solutions and can evolve to full end-to-end supply chain optimization that best supports our owner/operator Retail Partner network while giving us enhanced business agility, efficiency and scalability.”

[Read more: "Save A Lot Completes Refinancing Deal"]

SymphonyAI Retail CPG supply chain management and optimization solutions give retailers real-time inventory visibility, including data synchronization to centralize ownership and data flows for business agility in an omnichannel environment, along with unified order management and complete store and channel insights, all with the aim of increasing shopper satisfaction, reducing waste and measurably decreasing out-of-stocks through higher organizational intelligence and improved decisions.

“We are pleased to partner with an innovative grocery wholesaler like Save A Lot to speed and streamline supply chain and store operations, enhancing both shopper experience and business performance,” said Raj Marimuthu, general manager of supply chain management at Dallas-based SymphonyAI Retail. “We lead the industry in MDM and merchandising capabilities with a seamless path to full end-to-end AI-based insights, including demand forecasting AI — all with a compelling ROI value proposition.

With more than 850 stores in 32 states. Earth City, Mo.-based Save A Lot is No. 60 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.


H-E-B Transforming Waxahachie Location Into plus! Store

H-E-B Waxahachie Teaser

H-E-B has plans to renovate and expand its H-E-B store in Waxahachie, Texas, starting in early 2023. The renovations will add more than 22,000 square feet, resulting in a 127,000-square-foot store. With the additional space and broader assortment of products, the location will become an H-E-B plus! store, offering more than just groceries.

After renovations are complete, the store will feature new and upgraded departments, a two-lane Pharmacy Drive Thru, an expanded curbside area with more dedicated parking, and nearly 50 additional parking spaces for in-store shoppers.

[Read more: “H-E-B Reveals Details on Long-Awaited Store in DFW Metroplex”]

New amenities will include:

A True Texas BBQ restaurant with outdoor seating
• A sushi kiosk featuring selections made in-store daily and Sushiya Grill offerings
• Cooking Connections, offering cooking demonstrations
A Blooms Market floral department, offering online ordering and delivery service
• Home by H-E-B, featuring home accessories, furniture and more
• Charcoal & Grilling, featuring outdoor cooking essentials
An Apparel section

Upgrades to existing areas include larger bakery, meat and seafood departments. The expanded craft beer and wine section will have a sampling station. Additional checkout lanes will feature self-checkout options.

The Waxahachie H-E-B will also get new signage and an upgraded façade and entryway. The fuel station will get an updated look as well.

The store will remain open during the renovations, which are expected to be complete in 2024.

The largest privately held employer in Texas, San Antonio-based H-E-B has more than 430 stores and 154,000 employees in Texas and Mexico. The grocer’s store formats include H-E-B, Central Market, Joe V’s Smart Shop and Mi TiendaH-E-B also owns Favor Delivery, a delivery service that serves cities across Texas. The company is No. 16 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America


Wild Fork Debuts 1st Retail Store in Wisconsin

Wild Fork

While snowbirds in Wisconsin typically head south for winter, one retail chain has headed north this month. The South Florida-based Wild Fork Meat and Seafood Market, part of protein conglomerate JBS USA, celebrated the grand opening of its latest store in Glendale, Wisc., on Feb. 2.

Located at 635 W. Silver Spring Drive just north of Milwaukee in a retail development that also includes a Trader Joe’s, this Wild Fork outpost carries a wide variety of frozen meats and side dishes. The products are grouped by protein type and cut, and span value cuts of ground meat to high-end Wagyu Tomahawk steaks. A separate case marked “Easy” offers several selections for heat-and-eat quick meals.

[Read more: "Allegiance Premieres Latest Green Way Markets Store"]

Wild Fork touts its vertical integration as a differentiator, a structure that that allows it to control steps throughout the farm-to-fork chain to ensure quality and variety. During a recent visit to the store by Progressive Grocer, signage at the Glendale location also highlighted the company’s dedication to sustainability, detailing its commitment to animal welfare, its 100% CFC-free freezers and portioned packaging that reduces waste.

This month, the new Glendale store is offering several specials, including Valentine’s Day bundles and options for 2023 Super Bowl entertaining.

Wild Fork has been on the march since launching its first brick-and-mortar store in 2018. The company now runs storefronts in South Florida, Central Florida, Texas, Northern Illinois, Southern California, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and now, Wisconsin. The company also operates a comprehensive e-commerce site.