News Briefs


Big Y Teams With Fisher College to Educate Associates and Their Families

Fisher College Big Y Logos Teaser

Big Y Foods Inc. has formed an educational corporate partnership with the Fisher College Graduate Professional Studies (GPS) department. Through its Corporate Advantage Program (CAP), Boston-based Fisher College will offer online courses to Big Y Foods employees. The program will also offer discounted tuition rates for Big Y employees and their immediate family members, and identify courses and develop programs that fit the grocer’s needs.

“We are excited to partner with Fisher College and offer our employees a tremendous opportunity to further their education,” said Aimee Diliberto, Big Y’s manager of employee experiences. “We strive to offer various benefits to our employees and look forward to sharing this newest collaboration.”

[Read more: "Big Y Accepts SNAP EBT Benefits in Massachusetts"]

“Big Y is one of the biggest and most respected companies in the Commonwealth [of Massachusetts], and we welcome their employees and their families to Fisher College and look forward to helping them expand upon their educational and professional goals,” said Steve Rich, the college’s president.

Founded in 1903, Fisher College is a private not-for-profit institution offering 30-plus bachelor and graduate-level programs, both on campus and online. The core offerings at Fisher reflect liberal arts, but the majors and graduate programs provide expertise in such fields as management, accounting, fashion merchandising, criminal justice, biology, information technology, cybersecurity and a cutting-edge e-sports industry program. Educational resources include small group classrooms and meeting with industry and business leaders through internships, guest lectures, and site visits in Boston.

Springfield, Mass.-based Big Y operates locations throughout Massachusetts and Connecticut, encompassing more than 70 supermarkets, Table & Vine Fine Wines and Liquors, and Big Y Express gas and convenience locations, with more than 10,000 employees. The company is No. 75 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of thetop food and consumables retailers in North America


E-comm Firm Rokt Lands Tech Execs as Leaders

Rokt logo

E-commerce tech company Rokt, which provides personally relevant messages to shoppers before transactions, is adding seasoned tech executives to its leadership team. The New York City-based company appointed Noel Curtis as SVP of engineering and tapped John Walzer to lead its new development center in Seattle.

Curtis joins Rokt from Grubhub, where he was VP of technology. He will apply his machine learning experience at that organization to spearhead Rokt’s ML-based engineering efforts, which include demand-side systems and machine learning, reporting infrastructure, campaign management solutions, upsell systems, the experimentation platform and user research and design.

[Read more: "Flashfood Names Grocery Industry Vet Nicholas Bertram President/COO"]

Walzer is a 20-year industry veteran in the e-comm, telecom and multimedia industries. Most recently, he was a senior software development manager at Amazon. At Rokt, he will focus on high-performing, innovative solutions as he opens the company’s West Coast tech center.

Both Curtis and Walzer will report directly to Bill Barton, chief product and engineering officer. "Noel Curtis and John Walzer are two notable leaders in technology and Rokt is excited to welcome them both to our team as we look ahead to a year full of new opportunities and growth," said Barton. "We look forward to seeing Noel accelerate progress in our New York office and for John to usher in a new stage of growth for Rokt in Seattle, an incredible tech hub where we'll be able to access a whole new pool of talent."

Rokt also announced the hiring of Google vet Reuben Kan as a distinguished engineer. The Sydney, Australia-based Kan will help lead projects focused on system architecture, subsystem design, performance optimization and client-facing APIs and SDKs. He previously served as principal engineer and engineering director of Google Maps and principal engineer for Google Apps.


Raley’s Names New CFO

Raley's Tiffanie Burkhalter Teaser

Tiffanie Burkhalter will join The Raley’s Companies as CFO on Feb. 16. In her new role, Burkhalter will guide all enterprise financial functions, real estate and risk management.

Burkhalter started her career with Ernst and Young in the assurance and advisory services practice. While there she led a broad portfolio of public and private client engagements. She joined VSP Vision in 2011 as a member of the finance team and held roles with increasing levels of leadership responsibility, among them retail financial controller, VP of e-commerce, COO of VSP Ventures and ultimately president of VSP Ventures.

[Read more: "Raley’s Partners With Instacart for Online SNAP Integration in California"]

“We took great care and diligence to find an executive who aligns with our purpose, values and culture while also bringing outstanding and proven technical expertise and leadership,” said Raley’s President and CEO Keith Knopf. “We have found this leader in Tiffanie.”  

Added Mike Teel, Raley’s owner and chairman of the board: “We have confidence that Tiffanie will bolster an already strong leadership team and build on our already strong financial success.”

“I am excited to join The Raley’s Companies and support their expanded portfolio of brands,” noted Burkhalter. “I look forward to working alongside the impressive leadership team and bringing my experience and passion for leading high-performing teams and driving transformational results.”

Last September, the grocer’s previous CFO, Kenneth Mueller, and its chief pilot, Richard Conte, were both killed when the twin-engine plane they were traveling in crashed less than 20 minutes after takeoff.

With more than 230 locations across four states and four Tribal Nations under eight well-known banners, West Sacramento, Calif.-based Raley’s is No. 48 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of thetop food and consumables retailers in North America.


Target Ramps Up Affordable Health-and-Beauty Offerings

Target beauty refresh teaser

Target Corp. is expanding its presence in the self-care and health-and-wellness space with the addition of thousands of new brands and products to its shelves. A majority of the new items are under $10, and the retailer is putting a spotlight on clean products, as well as Black-owned and inclusive brands.

According to Cassandra Jones, SVP of merch essentials and beauty at Target, the self-care category is seeing massive growth, and the idea of beauty products is expanding to include those self-care, self-expression and health items. Jones’ team curates a mix of owned, exclusive-to-Target and national brands in an effort to create a one-of-a-kind experience for guests.

[Read more: "How Target Wins With Culture"]

“Clean beauty is a big deal for our guests and for Target,” Jones said. “Our guests are paying close attention to what they put in and on their bodies, from bath and skin care to vitamins and supplements.”

As such, the retailer is bringing in luxury-inspired perfumes; organic, biodegradable period care; and personalized skincare, with other specialized products on the way. New Black-owned and inclusive brands coming in 2023 include LilyAna Naturals, AfroPick, YGN and Everyday By Unsun, as well as Saltair and Gainful, two Asian American and Pacific Islander owned brands.

Additionally, Target will stock skincare products from Latina-owned Vamigas, which was part of the Target Takeoff accelerator program that supports up-and-coming brands and creators. 

Minneapolis-based Target Corp. is No. 6 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America, with nearly 2,000 locations.


J.M. Smucker Sells Several Pet Brands

Nutrish line

Venerable CPG The J.M. Smucker Co. is spinning off several of its pet food businesses. The company announced that it is selling nationally-distributed pet brands to CPG holding company Post Holdings, Inc.

As part of the $1.2 billion deal, J.M. Smucker will offload brands including Rachael Ray, Nutrish, 9Lives, Kibbles ‘n Bits, Nature’s Recipe and Gravy Train. The company’s private label products will also go to the St. Louis-based Post Holdings.

[Read more: "100 Iconic Brands That Changed Grocery"]

The move is part of a broader brand reorganization at J.M. Smucker, which oversees a host of other product lines for people and pets, including Smucker’s, Folgers, Dunkin’, Jif, Milk-Bone and Meow Mix. "This divestiture supports our strategy to prioritize investments and resources in the areas of our business that offer the strongest growth and profit potential. In our pet business this is reflected in our focus on dog snacks and cat food, anchored by our Milk-Boneand Meow Mix brands, respectively," explained Mark Smucker, chair of the board, president and CEO. "Portfolio optimization and strategic resource allocation remain key drivers of our long-term growth. The execution of this proven strategy has helped us streamline our business, improve margin mix, and position the Company to deliver continued shareholder value."

According to the company, some employees will transition to Post Holdings. The deal is expected to close during the fourth quarter of its current fiscal year ending April 30.

Last September, J.M. Smucker shared that it formed a transformation office to focus on continuous improvement strategies aimed at sustaining productivity initiatives and profit growth.


Weee! Confirms Data Hack

Weee! Logo Teaser

Ethnic grocery delivery platform Weee! confirmed a data breach this week, following reports that information from more than a million users had been stolen and shared online. The site first shared the story about the hack.

The leaked data appeared on the cybercrime forum Breached, allegedly posted by a user with the handle “IntelBroker.”

[Read more: "Weee! Hires Chief Merchandising Officer"]

In a statement, a Weee! representative verified a leak but noted that customer payment information was not part of the uploaded data. “For customers that placed an order between July 12, 2021 and July 12, 2022, information such as name, address, email addresses, phone number, order number, and order comments may have been impacted. We have notified all customers of the issue and will be notifying all impacted customers individually if their information was exposed,” a company spokesperson wrote.

So far, the company has not provided an update on the breach on its social media platforms.

To bolster cybersecurity at a time of rapidly-accelerating technologies and sophisticated threat actors, many retailers have been investing in protection features. For example, following a data breach impacting more than three million consumers from 2018 to 2021, Wegmans Food Markets updated its security practices. The retailer noted that there was no indication that customer data had been used in a harmful way. Meanwhile, in 2022, c-store chain Wawa agreed to pay $8 million to settle a data breach that exposed 34 million payment cards in 2019.