Taking Stock

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Local Notes

We’ve learned that Ahold USA has named the next group of merchandising executives who will support the company’s three divisions (brands) as it moves towards a January 1, 2018 decentralized operating structure. According to an internal announcement, at Giant/Martin’s, veterans Denise Mullen and Dave Lessard will become VP-non-perishables and VP-perishables respectively. Reporting to Mullen will be Deb Kreider, Kyle Kirkpatrick and Rebecca Lupfer. Steve Allison, Brian Lorenz and Chris Keetch will report to Lessard. Both VPs will report to John Ruane, senior VP-merchandising for the Carlisle, PA-based unit. At Stop & Shop, Kerri Aguilo will serve as senior VP of non-perishables with Maria Elena Ruisi, Natalia Torres-Furtado and Joel Brissenden reporting to her. The internal announcement we received still had the SVP of non-perishables position as open. Aguilo will report to Mark Messier, the division’s EVP-merchandising. At Giant/Landover, Michael Weinstock is the new VP of non-perishables and will have Greg Bibb and Diane Couchman reporting to him. As was the case at Stoppie, the announcement we received still had the VP-perishables position as still being open. Weinstock will report to Tonya Herring, SVP-merchandising. Not released at this time were any announcements concerning divisional operations leadership (those who would report to the senior VPs of operations who were named in May). A little further down the road (perhaps after Labor Day) we expect to hear who will be filling the specific category manager positions at the three divisions…Fairway Markets, which has struggled to regain its old form since emerging from a pre-packaged bankruptcy a year ago, recently received a downgraded credit rating from Moody’s. The drop from a Caa1 to a Caa2 puts the Manhattan-based “like no other market” merchant at a higher credit risk and will probably result in a higher cost of capital to the company and its primary investor, Blackstone Group’s GSO Capital Partners. It’s tough to visualize Fairway ever regaining its old mojo again, given cap-ex limitations and new competition which continues to invade the retailer’s market space…Weis has reopened its Tunkhannock, PA store, more than a month after a horrendous mass shooting by a violent suicidal associate cost three other associates their lives before the gunman then shot himself. In other news from the Sunbury, PA-based regional chain, Weis recently made two important executive level changes. It has hired industry veteran Ron Bonacci as its new VP-marketing and advertising, replacing Brian Holt, who moved on to a similar post as Spartan Nash. Bonacci was most recently senior director of marketing at United Supermarket in Lubbock, TX (a unit of Albertsons). He has also toiled for Kroger and Food City (K-VA-T) where he worked with Richard Gunn, Weis’ current senior VP-merchandising and marketing. Also recently joining the management team was Donna Banks-Ficcio, who comes aboard as VP-center store. She replaces Kevin Broe, who left the company a few months ago. Actually Banks-Ficcio and Broe worked together for several years at A&P. She’s a hard worker and a good choice for the evolving Weis organization…the new 113,000 square foot Wegmans that debuted in Hanover Township, NJ on July 23 drew one of the largest opening day crowds in recent memory and seems like it will be a big winner for the Rochester, NY uber-merchant. Next up for the regional chain is the opening of its long-awaited Montvale, NJ store on September 24…several trade associations including FMI and NACS have filed suit to prevent New York City from enforcing rules requiring nutritional and calorie information to be posted at stores by next month, long before the May 2018 compliance date established by the FDA. “The federal law pre-empts a municipality from taking matters into its own hands, and this is exactly what New York City is attempting to do, New York City’s action threatened interstate commerce and would introduce unneeded elements of confusion onto the retail marketplace,” said Jennifer Hatchers, FMI’s chief public policy officer. The suit asks for an immediate injunction to stop the City’s planned enforcement until the federal rules go into effect…while Whole Foods still plans on opening its “365” alternate format stores in Brooklyn and in Weehawken, NJ, the Austin-TX merchant reportedly has scaled back plans to open “365” units in several Midwest markets including Evergreen Park, IL; Toledo, OH; and Bloomington, IN. Numerous reports indicate that most of the four “365” units currently open are performing bellow projections. Both the Brooklyn and Weehawken units are expected to open next year…ShopRite will close its West Haven, CT store on July 29. The Campbell Avenue unit is not far from a Garafalo family owned ShopRite in Orange which opened late last year. On a happier note, the Greenfield family will debut its new 68,000 square foot unit in Plainview, NY on July 25. That new store on Old Country Road, will replace one of the oldest ShopRites on Long Island and is located about 1.5 miles from the original site…a few deaths to report this month including Paul Gilbert, who served as director of real estate for Wegmans. A 23-year veteran of the Rochester, NY-based uber merchant, Gilbert was responsible for site discovery at more than half of Wegmans’ 92 stores and several others in Wegmans’ future development plans…also passing on was legendary New York sportscaster Bob Wolff. Wolff spent an incredible 75 years behind the microphone and announced some of the most famous sporting events of the last three generations, including calling Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series and the Baltimore Colts’ overtime win in the 1958 NFL Championship game. Wolff, 96, began broadcasting while still a student at Duke University and was inducted into the broadcasting wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1995. He was cited by Guinness World Records in 2012 as having the longest career of any sportscaster. “If you added all of the time up, I spent about seven days of my life standing for the National Anthem,” Wolff once quipped…Red West is dead. The former boyhood friend and member of Elvis Presley’s “Memphis Mafia” passed away earlier this month after serving as both Elvis’ close confidant and actor in 18 of Elvis’s films until “The King’s” death in 1977. Shortly before Elvis passed, West co-wrote one of the most controversial books about “The King’s” troubled life – “Elvis: What Happened?” The colorful West, 81, first met Elvis when they were both students at Humes High School in Memphis, TN. “Elvis was always different. We had crew cuts and wore T-shirts and blue jeans; Elvis had the long ducktail, the long sideburns, and he wore the loud clothes and naturally was a target for all bullies. One day, luckily I walked into the boy’s and three guys were going to cut his hair, just, you know, to make themselves look big or make them feel big or whatever, and I intervened and stopped it,” West recalled in 2008 interview…veteran character actor Martin Landau has also recently entered the gates of cinema heaven. Landau, whose career got off to a fast start when he played Leonard, the creepy henchman who worked for secretive bad guy Phillip Vandamm (James Mason) in the 1959 Alfred Hitchcock iconic film “North By Northwest,” had a distinguished career that lasted more than 60 years and featured nearly 100 movie and TV roles. He became best known for playing secret agent Rollin Hand in the classic TV series “Mission: Impossible” (1966-1973, although Landau appeared in episodes during the first three seasons only). Perhaps his crowning acting achievement was receiving a supporting actor Oscar for his performance as a broken-down Bela Lugosi in Tim Burton’s “Ed Wood (1994).” He was 89 when he passed and was still active until three years ago.