Fred’s names Anto CFO
Fred’s has a new executive overseeing its finances. The Memphis, Tenn.-based company has named Joseph Anto its executive vice president and CFO, effectively immediately. He succeeds Jason Jenne, who will remain in an advisory capacity until Feb. 26 to ease the transition.
“We are pleased to welcome Joe to the Fred’s team full time,” Fred’s CEO Mike Bloom said. “Joe’s experience and expertise is invaluable as we continue to implement our strategic initiatives to drive increased traffic and comp sales, reduce SG&A, generate free cash flow and optimize our balance sheet. Joe is a proven financial and business development executive, and brings a diverse set of skills and experience that will help position Fred’s for long-term success.”
Anto was most recently senior vice president of strategy and M&A at MediaNews Group, where he had worked in various capacities since 2013. At MediaNews Group, he was involved in efforts to drive digital revenue and reduce organization expenses. In addition to his experience at MediaNews Group, Anto will bring to the company seven months’ experience of working with Fred’s, with which he has been working in a consulting capacity. As CFO, he will oversee the company’s financial and risk management, information technology and real estate strategy.
“I am thrilled to join Fred’s at this important time in the Company’s transformation,” Anto said. “I look forward to working with Mike and the rest of the senior leadership team as we develop and execute on the strategic priorities that will deliver long-term sustainable growth, cash flow and value creation.”
Bloom also thanked Jenne for his work at Fred’s. “On behalf of the Board of Directors and the entire Company, I thank Jason for his contributions to Fred’s as well as his continued support during this transition period. We wish Jason all the best in his future endeavors.”
ProFoot comes to the rescue
ProFoot is expanding its Heel Rescue line with the addition of Heel Rescue Epsom Salt Foot Gel. Officials at the Brooklyn, N.Y.-based company said that Epsom salt is a remedy used as aaloe vera to relieve muscle aches and pains as well as reduce inflammation.
The epsom salt gel joins two other products in the Heel Rescue line — a moisturizing foot cream and foot peel.
The product comes in a gel form, making it an easy-to-use item that requires no foot bath. Company executives add that it is ultra-concentrated, offering seven times more uses versus a typical Epsom salt bag. They noted that it is made with 83% aloe vera to soothe, calm and moisturize, as well as cooling peppermint oil and wintergreen leaf extract to revive.
Editor’s note: Retail theater
I have seen the future of mass retail. It is located, perhaps among other places, at a Whole Foods store in the fast-growing and quickly-gentrifying Center City section of Philadelphia.
On a recent Friday night, this store was packed with a wide array of consumers, ranging from those hard-to-capture millennials to older professionals and just about everyone in between. Not everyone there was rich and looking to spend their incremental dollars. Many were simply looking for a place to hang.
What is totally different is that many of these shoppers were not necessarily walking the aisles of Whole Foods buying the usual assortment of grocery products the grocery industry has thrived on for the last 100 years. Rather, they were frequenting the store’s many restaurants and food counters, including falafel, donut and chicken shops, as well as coffee and wine bars, many lounging at these places for hours as they enjoyed a hot brew, a glass of wine and some pretty good pizza sold by the slice or pie.
Whole Foods, at least at this Philadelphia unit, is a destination stop for people looking to spend time talking with friends and family and eating some interesting, tasty and unique foods at the same time. The bottom line is that this is a fun place and consumers actually want to go there.
Can you say the same thing about your store’s operation?
If you cannot today, you better quickly figure out a way to get consumers to start looking at your retail operation a bit differently. And, this has nothing to do with millennials and urban gentrification. Attracting consumers is as important in midtown Odessa, Texas as it is in center city Philadelphia. Consumers just have too many options to choose from, and they will pick the stores — or the digital sites — that make the most sense for them.
For brick-and-mortar retailers, that means offering an entertaining environment to further motivate consumers to come into the store and walk out with paid merchandise.
The Philadelphia Whole Foods that I visited has the right blueprint in place. People visit the store because they want to and not because they need to. It leads to a healthier retail environment, which leads to more sales. Other retailers also can develop their own venue that connects with shoppers. It may focus on the perimeter of the unit or it could focus on such intangibles as customer service, convenience or even store lighting.
The bottom line is now is the time to invest in this philosophy.