Progressive Grocer

JAN 2017

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What are your company's top priorities for 2017? W ayne Denningham, EVP and COO for Albertsons Cos., pin- points store conditions, private brands and people as top priorities for the Boise, Idaho-based retailer, which has grown organically and through acquisi- tions over the past few years. As part of Albertsons' quest to be the "favorite local supermarket" in each of the communities it serves, Denningham says sales growth and profitability will be driven by "maintaining our focus on run- ning full, fresh, friendly and clean stores, as well as ensuring our products offer the quality and variety of natural, organic and local products customers know us for," chief among which are its successful own brands like O Organics, Open Nature, Eating Right and Lucerne. Private label will continue to serve as a critical component of Albertsons' future playbook, as will technology. "In 2017, we're going to continue our focus on using Big Data and analytics to drive cus- tomer traffic and basket size through thoughtful price investment, loyalty programs and personalized offer- ings," notes Denningham. "We're also going to invest in our people and continue to be a company where people want to come work and build their careers." For Kevin Davis, chairman and CEO of Carson, Calif.- based Bristol Farms, 2017 will be about increasing sales at existing stores through more efficient promotion and merchandising, and improving the shopper service experi- ence. e upscale grocer recently remodeled more than half of its stores, and while sales are up at all of those locations, Davis believes it can do a better job introducing the newly remodeled stores and their added features to new customers in communities it already serves. is also will be the year Bristol Farms opens the first of several new stores it will be debuting over the next 18 months, which, when completed, will mark the company's biggest growth in history. A strong focus on people — internally and externally — will be top priority this year for Smart & Final Stores. Scott Drew, the Commerce, Calif.-based retailer's EVP of operations, notes that his company will continue to focus on engaging and investing in associates through continued education, internal promotions and new hires. His company will also continue providing household and business customers with a differentiated offering and an updated, more convenient shopping experience. Chris Coborn, president and CEO of St. Cloud, Minn.-based Coborn's Inc., says his company's key focus will be further strengthening two of its core values: guest focus and executional excellence. "Our employees should always be anticipating opportunities to provide remarkable service, even if it means deviating from the routine way of doing things," Coborn says. Similarly, at Festival Foods, a De Pere, Wis.-based chain of 26 stores, a major focus of 2017 will be improving the guest experience — specifically, empowering store associates to "wow our guests," says Kirk Stoa, the retailer's EVP and CFO. "It can best be described as 'random acts of kindness' for our guests." John Cortesi, president and CEO of Sunset Foods, says that this year's priori- ties for his five-store chain in north sub- urban Chicago include a focus on fresh, including organics and prepared meals. "We're competing with the likes of Blue Apron and other subscription services. We need to be more innovative, so we'll also be focusing on digital mar- keting, applications and solutions," Cortesi notes. "As we address Millen- nial shoppers, we're focusing more on convenience and satisfaction." Art Potash, CEO of Chicago's Potash Markets, believes that growth — a major priority for 2017 — will come as a result in investments in training and development of staff, as well as physical upgrades of equipment. Lauren G.R. Johnson, CEO of Newport Ave. Market, in Bend, Ore., minces no words when identifying her top priorities for 2017: "Increased sales. Due to new competition in our area, we expect to remain flat through the first two quarters, then experience a slight increase." Likewise, for Abingdon, Va.-based K-VA-T Food Stores Inc., which operates stores under the Food City banner in Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky and Virginia, 2017 will be about "growing sales, given the challenging headwinds of deflation," as well as "improving the shopping experience and the solutions we bring to our customers," says Dan Glei, K-VA-T's EVP merchandising and marketing. And Jimmy Wright, owner of Wright's Market, in Opelika, Ala., says his top priorities are "finding innovative ways to grow profitable sales, in spite of food deflation and the competitive environment." Of Healthy Home Market's newest store, Farm 2 Family Foods by Healthy Home Market, set to open this month in Lenoir, N.C., Richard Cashion, VP of retail operations for the Charlotte, N.C.-based chain, notes, "With the new brand, our company is focusing on educat- ing traditional grocery customers about healthier lifestyles and selecting the best products to meet their needs." Nutrition education always has been a major focus for Natural Grocers, but 2017 will be a time to continue cre- ating new, experiential ways to help customers know more about the foods they purchase, says Heather Isely, EVP of the Lakewood, Colo.-based retailer. Continued on page 58 2017 Retail Outlook 54 | Progressive Grocer | Ahead of What's Next | January 2017

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