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Happy 2017 from the Food Trade News team! This typically “resolution-free” writer will give in to one for this year: we will continue to inform, educate and entertain you, our readers, as only we can do. Our ever changing retail map is undergoing more revisions, so put your life jacket on and we’ll help you navigate the volatile retail seas in 2017.

Acme Markets is on the move again early in the year remodeling stores in many districts. First up was on lucky Friday the 13th in Folsom (Ridley Township) PA. This Delaware County store is in the heart of Ac-a-me territory and the extensive remodel was welcomed by the community. Entering the store, customers are greeted with a warm, inviting atmosphere that highlights fresh departments and enhanced specialty shops including a newly expanded floral department. “Our store celebrates our customers and we are thrilled to offer them such a fantastic new shopping experience,” said Acme president Dan Croce. “From our product selection to the design and layout of the store, our goal was to tailor this store for our neighbors in Ridley. We’ve created a fresh, new feel to the shopping experience with greater selections, convenience, and variety. We look forward to continuing to bring the best of Acme to the residents of Ridley for many years to come.” A couple of cool additions are a remodeled pharmacy equipped with a private consultation room and the Frosty Mug, which now includes a large beer and wine section both refrigerated and at room temperature, and features many local craft beer options. This is all topped off with a draught beer bar and large screen TV in the middle of the store.

Acme district manager Jonathan Cruz and store director Laura Mahan also presented $12,500 in donations to numerous local organizations and the signature park bench made of recycled materials to Ridley Township. Next up for Acme is Lincroft, NJ followed by Audubon, NJ. We’re also looking forward to hearing from Dan Croce at the MAFTO winter retailer meeting on February 16. To register go to www.mafto.org

This past holiday season, customers and associates at Giant/Carlisle donated $656,349 through its annual Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) Candles for Kids in-store campaign. “For 20 years, we have been proud to partner with our customers, associates and vendors to raise more than $41 million for local CMN Hospitals,” said Tom Lenkevich, Giant/Carlisle president. “Combined with our CMN paper balloon campaign, our generous customers and associates donated more than $1.2 million at the checkout this year to support CMN in providing healthier futures for children in our local communities.”

Giant/Carlisle is one of the top 10 fundraisers in the country for CMN. In addition to the annual in-store campaigns during the summer and at the holidays, associates also regularly volunteer at CMN Hospital events, including radio and television telethons. “We are thrilled that Giant/Martin’s increased their fundraising during the annual Candle Campaign by four percent this year!” said John Lauck, president and CEO of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. “Through Giant/Martin’s dedication and generosity to the cause, their employees and customers are saving kids’ lives. Thank you for making a tremendous impact on kids this holiday season by funding vital treatments, research, equipment and charity care each year.”

The folks at Ahold USA have been very busy upgrading their technology. They recently announced that they have partnered with RangeMe, the online platform that streamlines new product discovery between retailers and product suppliers.

This new technology adoption allows the company to discover and source more women-owned and minority-owned businesses with innovative and quality products for their division stores. Ahold USA and its retail divisions will leverage RangeMe to not only scale its product and supplier discovery efforts, but also to manage the company’s inbound product submissions. “Our goal is to develop more mutually beneficial and successful partnerships with small and diverse suppliers,” said Nick Bertram, senior vice president of merchandising strategy and support for Ahold USA. “This partnership with RangeMe reinforces our commitment to accomplish this at scale while providing our division customers with amazing products at competitive costs.”

On the consumer end, Ahold USA’s retail divisions have embarked on a technology overhaul in collaboration with Verizon Enterprise Solutions to create a ‘smarter store’ for today’s always-connected consumer. This is being done to better accommodate more than three million customers and 115,000 associates each week across 780 stores.

With consumers increasingly relying on smartphones and public Wi-Fi when shopping, retailers are recognizing the imperative to offer strong and reliable networks for delivering the digitally rich in-store experience that is now an expectation. “Our divisions are focused on the needs of their customers and improving the overall customer experience,” said Paul Scorza, chief information officer for Ahold USA.  “Verizon Enterprise Solutions has helped them deliver on their ‘better place to shop’ mission as we were able to bring Wi-Fi to all 780 stores while increasing network bandwidth that moves data quickly.” Wi-Fi connectivity throughout their stores has been instrumental for the Ahold USA divisions to tailor offers and promotions to subscribers of their app and “SCAN IT!” mobile feature, which allows customers to use smartphones to scan items for self-serve checkout.  Additionally, Ahold USA division associates can rely on strong network connectivity to rapidly and securely transmit data related to everything from inventory needs to medical prescriptions and point of sale transactions. Underscoring the growing popularity of the Wi-Fi feature, in December 2016 alone Ahold USA’s divisions saw an overall 23 percent spike in the number of users over the previous month. Over and above improving the customer experience, the technology upgrade includes operational enhancements across all Ahold USA division stores. All locations are now equipped with Verizon’s business-grade voice-over-IP (VoIP) phone solution which streamlines network management and cost efficiencies while extending the capabilities of the company’s existing phone system. Also, the addition of Verizon’s industry leading wireless network capabilities in each location will provide backup connectivity to help maintain business continuity in the event of outages which can be harmful to business and a company’s brand.

Produce for Kids is again encouraging families nationwide to be re-inspired this new year by pledging to eat healthier lunches in 2017 at PowerYourLunchbox.com. From January 4 to February 15, for every online pledge, lunchbox-friendly companies

supporting Power Your Lunchbox Pledge will make a collective $1 donation to Feeding America programs that support families and children. In addition to the pledge, visitors to the Power Your Lunchbox Pledge website will find tools and tips to help empower families and classrooms to eat healthier lunches, after-school snacks and weekday dinners. After taking the pledge, families will gain access to fresh produce coupons valued at $2.50.  Classrooms in schools across the country can also take the pledge, and teachers who visit the PowerYourLunchbox.com teacher resource page can download fun, free nutrition-focused lesson plans, certificates for their students, and take home materials for families. Every teacher that pledges on behalf of his or her classroom has the chance to win a $500 gift card for classroom supplies.

“January is a great time for families to resolve to eat a nutritious lunch through the remainder of the school year,” said Trish James, vice president, Produce for Kids. “The holidays can be busy and getting back into a healthy lunchbox-packing groove can be challenging. The Power Your Lunchbox Pledge was designed to re-inspire families return to their routine and start the new year on the right foot.” The campaign gives families the resources to fuel their kids throughout the day with nutritious, produce-inspired lunches while giving back to families in need. Since 2014, the campaign raised more than $35,000 for nationwide health and wellness programs benefitting families and children. For more information, go to www.poweryourlunchbox.com

“What’s in a name?” penned William Shakespeare hundreds of years ago. Well, when it comes to the pronunciation of the newest retailer on the block, Lidl, everyone seems to have their own opinion. Is it Liddle, with a short “i”; Leyedl, with a long “i”; or Leedl, with a long “e” sound? Being a language geek, I did some research, and here are the official results: Lidl is pronounced with a long “e” sound – “Leedle”, like needle. So, the next time a colleague or a consumer mispronounces Lidl, correct them. It could save them from future embarrassment.

It’s January, and that means the scheduling of vendor meetings, trade shows and future golf outings (no, it’s not too early). For the most-up-to-date event schedule, please refer to our Trade Calendar starting on page 2. The calendar is also available on our website at www.best-met.com/trade-calendar/. If any of you have an event to announce, please reach out to us and we’ll be sure to add it to the busy schedule we foodies keep!

Birthday shout-outs for the “is it winter yet?” month of January go to: Linda Doherty, NJFC; Eve Gigis, Acme Markets; Tom Muller, Wakefern; Ruth “Momma Dietz” Eni, Dietz & Watson; Gary Larkin, recently retired from JOH; David Patragnoni, Wellshire Farms; George Latella, Saint Joseph’s University; Tim Musgrove, Herr Foods, my Best-Met colleague Karen Fernandez, and Food Trade News alums Meg Major, Bob Ingram and Scott Lichterman. Buon compleanno a tutti!

 

Quote of the month: “We must accept finite disappointment but we must never lose infinite hope.” Martin Luther King Jr.

 

Please send your industry news to Maria at mmaggio@best-met.com