Metro Beat

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Hello all, I hope the summer has been going well for everyone. In touring around the Northeast, a lot of my retail friends haven’t been singing the “retail blues” song, which has been good to hear. In fact, many have been pretty bullish about their business instead of the usual summer lulls. Encouraging news to say the least and hopefully indicative of a strong Q3 and Q4 for everyone.

I was shocked and surprised to hear that Ken Downey, director of bakery sales and merchandising at Kings Food Markets/Balducci’s has left the Parsippany, NJ based retailer effective August 8. Ken told us that he had accepted the position of bakery sales manager at Jewel-Osco, effective August 11. In his new position Ken will be overseeing all 185 bakery departments for Jewel-Osco in the Chicagoland area. It was the proverbial “offer he couldn’t refuse,” from what we hear. The New Albertson’s company came knocking on his door, directly due to the successes Ken and his entire Kings bakery staff had accomplished in his 10 years of leading the upscale chain in bakery excellence. Ken also brings to the table a wealth of national bakery industry exposure due to his total involvement in multiple trade associations. He is a past president of the Retail Bakers Association, president of the New Jersey Bakers Board of Trade and is a distinguished alumni of the American Institute of Baking, to name a few. We wish him well in his new endeavors and I’m sure there will be a steady path to his doorway in the Midwest from a multitude of his many vendor friends from these parts. No word of his replacement at Kings at this time and when we learn of any news we’ll pass it along.

Well, after taking a short hiatus for the summer, word on the street is that a slate of new store openings at Staten Island based Key Food Stores is about to kick off again. Although the official dates are under wraps while some last minute paperwork is being worked on and finalized, our understanding is that late August will kick off the first one in Manhattan and then every Friday through the month of September will see a new Key Food banner unveiled throughout our marketing area.

Congrats to Jim Magner on being named VP of sales at Explore Asian, a manufacturer of gluten free, non-GMO Asian food products. Jim was most recently with Cuisine Innovations and also has experience with Campbell’s, Highliner Foods and Acosta.

Congrats also to Maria-Jose Alvarez who has joined KeHE Distributors in the metro NY area as a key account manager. Maria joins KeHE from United Natural Foods and many remember her from her time at Pathmark and White Rose Food.

It was good to hear from all-around industry good guy Owen McKeever and Charlene Neurouter of World Wide Sales who asked us to pass along the date of the annual Robert & Owen McKeever Jr. Invitational Golf tournament. The date will be October 2, 2014 and the event will be held at the Montclair Golf club in West Orange, NJ. This is one of those old “throw back” type of events where it really crosses all lines and you get involvement from every customer, supplier and vendor in the market, which makes for a terrific networking day as well as raising funds for a great cause. For information on how to participate contact Melissa McKinney at 973.656.9200 or mmckinney@cff.org.

Bozzuto’s once again held its annual Merchandising Marketplace show at Foxwoods in Ledyard, CT and, it should go without saying, once again it was a top shelf affair. Even though the summer version of the Bozzuto’s show is supposed to be the “lower key” affair compared to the spring gala (and if you haven’t attended a spring gala you should absolutely put it on your calendar), Michael Bozzuto, Steve Heggelke, George Motel and the entire Bozzuto’s team do not miss one.…single.… thing when it comes to customer and vendor appreciation. From their vendor golf outing which kicks off the three-day event (and big shout out and kudos to Joy Sgro for putting together a fantastic outing) to the exhibit floor, food, and dinner reception, it makes for one of the more memorable events you will attend in our industry. Kudos to all involved!

Just a couple of short months ago (FTN May 2014) we reported on the second Key Food opening in the state of New Jersey when Eddie Hadam opened a new store in Manalapan, NJ on Gordons Corner Road. Although only 5,500 square foot, the store played much bigger with its openness and a terrific assortment of upscale perimeter of the store items. Well, just a couple of weeks ago, the store had an automobile drive right through the front wall and it stopped literally inches from Eddie’s son Malek Hadam who was managing the store at the time. We’re happy to report that Malek is fine, but when you see the video of the incident, it is amazing he wasn’t seriously injured. Eddie says that he was closed for business for a day, and Malek obviously has a sense of humor as he adds, “come by and use our new drive through window service!”

Lavazza has teamed up with Green Mountain Coffee Roasters to offer a Lavazza K-Cup pack which will be available this fall. It will come in four varieties including, Gran Aroma, Classico, Gran Selezione and Perfetto.

Congratulations to the Atalanta Corporation on the recognition of eight awards at this year’s American Cheese Society Conference. Considered to be one of the most prestigious cheese events, the conference showcased over 240 companies and nearly 1,700 products and Atalanta stood on the podium eight times on behalf of their producers. Well done!

Fairway Markets opened up its first location in Suffolk County Long Island in July to much hoopla and fanfare. The 53,000 square foot location is on Middle County Road in Lake Grove directly across the street from the big Smith Haven Mall. Fairway’s executive chairman, Charles Santoro, said at the opening, “We’re very excited to make SuffolkCounty our newest home and offer our unprecedented array of traditional and specialty foods and groceries at great values.” The store is Fairway’s 15th in the Metro NY area and the store manager will be Charles Schiro. Interestingly, the new Fairway is less than a mile from Lake Grove’s Whole Foods, which should make for a good battle. Bill Sanford, interim CEO of Fairway Market, said of the new location, “The Smith Haven Mall is the center of retail in SuffolkCounty, similar to the Roosevelt Mall in NassauCounty, where Fairway’s Westbury store is performing well. The demographic in the Lake Grove area is ideal for Fairway – dense population, high incomes and highly educated.”

And in other Fairway news, on a recent conference call with analysts, officials of parent Fairway Group Holdings said the company would open just one or two projects per year in coming years, with an eye toward sites that can draw considerable customer attention. One such project will be on the way in fiscal 2016 in Staten Island, where officials announced a newly built Fairway would anchor a planned redevelopment of the Staten Island Mall. That project draws some 12 million visitors a year, Edward Arditte, Fairway’s CFO and co-president, said. Also a store in Manhattan’s Hudson Yards and the Staten Island location are the only announced projects for respective fiscal years 2016 and 2017 at this point, although officials said they expected a second store in 2017 and could add one to the 2016 schedule if an opportunity arose.

And finally, congratulations to Robert Rowe Sr. and The Davidson Company on being awarded the specialty, ethnic and select kosher foods business for the Stop & Shop Metro NY division. Davidson had already handled Stop & Shop’s New England division and the metro business will be a big boost for the Connecticut based company. First deliveries are scheduled to start in mid- September.

Well, I hope you all enjoy what is left of the summer and have a terrific Labor Day weekend. As always you can reach me at kgallagher@best-met.com or 201-250-2217.