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Kroger names new Fry’s, divisional leadership

BY David Salazar

As part of its Restock Kroger effort, Cincinnati-based Kroger has announced two promotions with regard to its divisions. The company named Steve McKinney — most recently president of Kroger’s Fry’s division — to the position of senior vice president of retail divisions, effective Feb. 5. Monica Gaines, currently corporate vice president of produce-floral merchandising, has been named president of Fry’s, succeeding McKinney to become the first African-American to lead one of the company’s divisions.

McKinney has been with Kroger since 1981, when he joined its former Florida Choice Supermarkets banner as a clerk, advancing through the ranks to field representative before joining Phoenix, Ariz.-based Fry’s in various leadership positions. He became vice president of operations at Fry’s in 1998 and became vice president of operations for Kroger’s southwest division in 2006 and was named vice president of operations for its Ralph’s division the following year. He was tapped to lead Fry’s in 2013.

“Steve’s nearly 37 years of Kroger experience and deep knowledge of food retail will help our divisions continue to execute with excellence,” said Mike Donnelly, Kroger’s executive vice president and COO said. “Steve has always been passionate about creating uplifting associate and customer experiences. We look forward to him joining our senior leadership team as we continue to drive Restock Kroger.”

Gaines takes the helm of Fry’s with more than 20 years of Kroger experience under her belt, having joined the company’s Columbus division through a management training program in 1995. She has held such positions as human resources coordinator, produce buyer, store manager and district manager before becoming produce-floral merchandiser in the Columbus division. She became vice president of merchandising for Fry’s in 2013, and moved into her current role in 2015.

“Monica is a recognized leader in our business and across the industry,” Donnelly said. “She combines a willingness to embrace fresh ideas with a keen business savvy that yields real results. As the company’s first African-American division president, we are excited to have Monica drive and influence change in our company through her expertise and perspective, and we are eager for her to bring her passion for people and results to Fry’s.”

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Walmart to unveil stricter on-time delivery requirements

BY David Salazar

Walmart is revising its on-time delivery goals while bringing some transparency to its supplier base, according to a report from Reuters. The changes are being announced this week at the company’s Supplier Growth Forum at its Bentonville, Ark., headquarters.

Walmart reportedly will announce changes to its delivery changes, which are aimed at boosting its revenue by $1 billion through improved product availability. Under the new rules large suppliers will be required to meet an 85% on-time goal or face a 3% fine on the cost of the goods being delivered — this an increase over the previous 75% on-time goal, the report said. Additionally, smaller suppliers will need to up their on-time deliveries from 33% to 50% or face a fine.

“We have reduced inventory in stores in order to have the right amount of stock and have made significant progress in the past few years,” Walmart’s U.S. chief merchandising officer Steve Bratspies told Reuters. “We want to focus on improving that even more.”

Also as part of its Supplier Growth Forum — and its efforts to compete with Amazon — Walmart will be offering suppliers its On Shelf Customer Availability data at the forum. These data had previously only been for internal use, Reuters said.

To read the full report, click here.

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Lidl bound to rebound in 2018, Daymon says

BY Michael Johnsen

Daymon on Monday reported that more than 63% of consumers surveyed indicated that Lidl’s entry into the U.S. market had exceeded their expectations.

And yet Lidl’s U.S. debut, by many accounts, fell flat.

“While there have been mixed reports about Lidl’s initial U.S. success, rest assured, they are in for the long haul,” Daymon noted in its first-ever Private Brand Intelligence Report. “Lidl has a proven track record of adaptability if they are faced with market challenges or in a position to gain a competitive advantage. … Lidl in 2017 is not the Tesco of 2009 when the company launched its ill-fated ‘Fresh & Easy’ U.S. concept. Being a private company that does not answer to shareholders has its benefits, and Lidl is not arriving at the start of a recession either.”

So what happened?

“We don’t believe Lidl put their best foot forward, likely due to their rush to enter the market and inability to meet minimums,” Carl Jorgensen, director thought leadership for Daymon, wrote. “But that doesn’t mean they won’t succeed over the long haul. One of our predictions about Lidl is that because they are privately held and have resources, they have the luxury to work on this and to learn from their mistakes.”

While Lidl is expected to improve in the coming year, own brand-focused retailers in search of strategies to build upon private label success stories won’t have to look far. According to Tom Stockholm, CEO Experticity, the biggest retail success of 2017 was the introduction of Nordstrom Local. “The new store is only 3,000 square feet and while you can return or pick up online orders at the store, there’s not actual inventory,” he told Daymon. “The whole purpose of the physical store is to delivery expertise and help customers have better buying experiences. The trend of increasing the customer experience will be increasingly important as the buying landscape continues to evolve.”

Other own brand success stories include Walmart’s focus on digital, as evidenced by its launch of Uniquely J, a digital-only own brand for its Jet.com platform. “We designed Uniquely J for e-commerce and not for a store, though it could be sold in a store,” Dan Hooker, general manager, private brands, Jet.com and Walmart ecommerce, said at the time of the launch. “Really three things went into developing this brand, such as quality ingredients. … We also took into consideration the things that millennials find to be important, like fair trade and sustainably sourced. That was the foundation of the brand.”

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