News Briefs


Front-Line Retail Workers Feel Unprepared to Address In-Store Theft, Violence

Supermarket Theft Teaser

A survey of 1,000 retail and grocery associates by front-line enablement solution provider Axonify has found that many front-line workers lack proper training to deal with theft and frustrated shoppers, leaving the employees without preparation or support to deal with these issues.

[Read more: "Organized Retail Crime Threat Rising: NRF"]

Additional findings from Waterloo, Ontario-based Axonify are as follows:

• Theft is rising: Amid an uncertain economy, consumers are under pressure to make ends meet, driving many to steal. In fact, half of retail/grocery front-line workers surveyed witnessed a customer stealing or attempting to steal from their store in the last six months. Further, more than a quarter of those workers did nothing in response, because some believed that they lacked the skills to handle the situation (28%). 

• Hostile customer situations place new pressure on retail employees: Two in five front-line retail workers feel scared going into work because of an increase in volatile customer situations (40%). These range from everyday customer conflicts all the way up to in-store violence. 

• Retail workers need more training to feel prepared and safe: Although theft is common, 20% of retail/grocery front-line workers feel unprepared to deal with it. This may be because another 21% said that their employers haven’t given them the right tools and training to manage and defuse tense customer situations.

By providing retail and grocery workers with the right training and support to manage these challenging conversations, front-line organizations can help improve worker safety and well-being,” wrote Alex Kinsella in an Axonify blog post. “This level of training and enablement not only impacts how associates show up to work, but it also ripples across productivity, retention and recruitment, all critical factors in today’s labor market.”


SpartanNash Introduces Scholarship Program

student teaser

SpartanNash is opening up a new scholarship program to support outstanding students who are leaders in their communities. The Our Family 2023 Scholarship program is named after the company’s signature private label brand.

Students who live in a state served by SpartanNash can apply to receive a $2,000 scholarship that helps them in their undergraduate, graduate or vocational studies. Applications are open between May 1 and Aug. 31, and winners will be announced on Nov. 1.

[Read more: "SpartanNash Planting 20K Trees"]

According to information from the Michigan-based food solutions company, scholarship recipients will be chosen based on multiple short essays that showcase their community involvement through extracurricular activities, charity work or other good works. "Rooted in the neighborhoods we serve, we are proud to recognize student leaders who are inspiring community engagement through volunteering or other acts of kindness," said Amy McClellan, SVP and chief marketing officer. "Supporting students in their academic journey while recognizing community contributions is perfectly aligned with our mission to deliver the ingredients for a better life."

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, Europe, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Honduras, Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Djibouti, Korea and Japan. SpartanNash also operates 147 supermarkets and employs 17,500-plus associates.


Trader Joe’s Set to Open Another Orange County Store


Just a bit due south of its headquarters, Trader Joe’s is readying a new location. The Monrovia, Calif.-based retailer announced that its latest store in Cypress, Calif., southeast of Los Angeles in Orange County, will welcome customers on Friday, May 5.

Shoppers can visit the store that day for a grand opening celebration spotlighting an array of products and amenities. Located at 5245 Katella Avenue, the Cypress store will be open daily from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. The Golden State is home to the majority of Trader Joe’s locations, with 193 stores.

There was some other Trader Joe’s news coming out of its home state this week. Further north, employees at a Trader Joe’s store in Oakland voted to unionize, by a 73-53 margin.

As it opened its third store in 2023, Trader Joe’s is also shoring up its infrastructure for the future. In February, the retailer began work on a new food assembly and distribution center in Franklin, Ky. The facility in the Central U.S. is expected to open this fall.

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


Kroger Invests in More Cloud Technologies

access point

Cloud networking provider Extreme Networks, Inc. is teaming up with The Kroger Co. to deploy scan-as-you-go technology and other services to the retailer’s stores. The Morrisville, N.C.-based Extreme Networks revealed that Kroger will use its cloud management and Wi-Fi 6E access points across its locations.

In addition to scanning capabilities, the platform offers inventory location and temperature sensing applications. Extreme Networks also claims to boost network capacity and infrastructure and provide grocers with a single view into their entire network.

[Read more: "Kroger Makes a Big Retail Media Deal With Disney"]

“Extreme’s differentiator is helping customers establish the network as a profit center, not a cost center. We take a collaborative approach to solving complex business problems through innovative technology,” explained Norman Rice, Extreme Networks' COO. “In retail and grocery specifically, we help customers unlock significant value from their network investment by leveraging network intelligence and leaning into automation to improve the in-store experience, streamline operations and drive associate productivity.”

Kroger continues to invest in technologies to enhance the customer experiences and boost its operational efficiencies. At the Shoptalk 2023 event in March, Kroger SVP Yael Cosset said that the retailer’s longtime investment in data and innovation saved customers $1.4 billion last year alone.

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


Calgary Co-op Shares 2022 Financial Results

calgary co-op

Among its financial results, Calgary Co-operative Association has reported that total sales for the year ending on Oct. 29, 2022, amounted to CAD $1.32 billion, compared with CAD $1.23 billion in 2021. Net earnings was CAD $38 million, an increase from CAD $30 million in 2021.

The board of directors approved the payment of patronage returns in the amount of CAD $26 million in 2022, an increase from the CAD $21.8 million returned to members in 2021.The portion of the patronage returns paid in cash was CAD $19.7 million (compared with CAD $16.5 million in 2021), with CAD $6.3 million paid in shares (compared with CAD $5.3 million in 2021). Complete financial results are included in the "2022 Annual Report."

(Read more: “Calgary Co-op to Acquire Local Wines & Spirits Brand")

In regard to its commitment to community members,a food insecurity reduction pilot program was expanded to reach all 22 food stores with the launch of the Calgary Co-op Fresh Food Rescue Program. The program has provided more than 1.06 million pounds of nutritious foods in approximately 100,000 food hampers. The initiative was in addition to the CAD $2.8 million donated in funds and nonperishable food in 2022, an increase from CAD $2.7 million in 2021. 

Owned by its members, Calgary Co-op is one of the largest retail cooperatives in North America. The company has more than 400,000 members, 3,850 employees, assets of CAD $700 million and annual sales of CAD $1.3 billion. Locations in Calgary, Airdrie, Cochrane, High River, Okotoks and Strathmore, Alberta, include food centers; pharmacies; gas stations; car washes; home health care centers; wine, spirits and beer locations; and cannabis locations.


Kroger Adds Upcycled Bread to Simple Truth Brand

Kroger Simple Truth Upcycled Bread Teaser

The Kroger Co. has added to its Simple Truth collection two new items that are made with an upcycled ingredient, thereby helping reduce food waste.

The new items, Seeded Multigrain Bread and Multigrain Quinoa Bread, are rolling out nationwide to approximately 1,800 store bakery departments across 18 Kroger banners. Manufactured by Upcycled Foods Inc. (UP Inc.), both breads contain 10% of ReGrained SuperGrain+, the company’s flagship ingredient. The recycled ingredient offers “flavor depth and naturally fortified nutritional attributes,” according to the company

The Simple Truth SKUs are Upcycled Certified by the Denver-based Upcycled Food Association, and both breads come in a 17.6-ounce package priced at $5.99.

“Upcycled ingredient innovation is one of the most actionable solutions for food brands to be more sustainable,” said Dan Kurzrock, founder and CEO of Berkeley, Calif.-based UP Inc. “We are thrilled to help catalyze Kroger’s efforts to bring their Zero Hunger | Zero Waste commitment to life on store shelves. These breads win against category incumbents on flavor alone, giving consumers an accessible opportunity to make an impact with every purchase.” 

The new product news comes ahead of Stop Food Waste Day (April 26). According to UP Inc., 57% of shoppers said that they intend to buy more upcycled food, and one in three are specifically interested in bakery products made from upcycled ingredients.

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


This article first appeared on the site of sister publication Store Brands.