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Dollar General, Unilever present grants totaling $72,500 to more than two dozen Charlotte-area schools

BY Michael Johnsen

GOODLETTSVILLE, Tenn. — Dollar General, in partnership with Unilever, concluded the seventh annual "Reading Puts You on the Track to Victory" reading program last week by presenting grants totaling $72,500 to more than two dozen Charlotte-area elementary schools. The grants were presented to school leaders during pre-race ceremonies at the Dollar General 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Oct. 11. 

"This program is an innovative way to encourage young students to develop a love of reading, which is so important to their success in school and in life," stated Rick Dreiling, chairman and CEO Dollar General. "Encouraging children to read and providing literacy grants to Charlotte-area schools exemplifies our mission of serving others. It’s rewarding to see so many children achieve the high goals they set for themselves by spending more time reading."

David Tehle, Dollar General’s executive vice president and chief financial officer (middle) and Krees Kruythoff, Unilever North America’s President (right) present a check for $72,500 to Charlotte-area educators in pre-race ceremonies at the Dollar General 300 as part of the Reading Puts You on the Track to Victory program. (Photo: Business Wire)

The program encourages students to read outside the classroom and achieve reading goals. More than 6,000 students from 28 local schools read for more than 2.8 million minutes. Each participating school received a $2,500 grant from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation.

Over the past seven years, the program has awarded more than $350,000 to 40 Charlotte-area schools.

All participating schools received a collection of favorite childhood books from Dollar General and Unilever NASCAR drivers, and were eligible for other prizes. By averaging 285 minutes read, Ashley Park PreK-8 School won a driver read-aloud featuring Dollar General NASCAR drivers Matt Kenseth and Brian Vickers. All children who met or exceeded their grade-level reading goals received a racing-themed prize. Jackson Kessler, a first-grader at Royal Oaks Elementary School, read more than 1,170 minutes and was this year’s grand prize winner, earning a special VIP experience at the NASCAR Nationwide Series Dollar General 300. He also received a collection of autographed books from Kenseth and Vickers, as well as Unilever NASCAR drivers Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Regan Smith. 

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Jason Reiser takes on SVP/lead merchandising officer role at Family Dollar

BY Michael Johnsen

MATTHEWS, N.C. — Jason Reiser has been elevated to the role of SVP/lead merchandising officer at Family Dollar, Drug Store News has learned. "In this role, Jason will have executive responsibility for leading cohesive merchandising strategy and execution," noted company president and COO Mike Bloom. "Jason has already made a positive impact since joining Family Dollar in July. In this new role, he will use his strong team leadership experience and his extensive discount retail background with Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club to drive our continued success."

Tammy DeBoer, SVP food and private brands, and Holly Shaskey-Platek, SVP apparel, home and general merchandise, will report to Reiser. Rick Siliakus, VP household products, and Jim Trappani, VP health and beauty aids, will continue to report to Reiser. 

Reiser will report to Bloom.

Additionally, to further evolve the company’s global sourcing capabilities, the global sourcing organization will align under the executive direction of Holly Shaskey-Platek. Jennifer Warner, VP global sourcing, will report to Shaskey-Platek.

Reiser came to Family Dollar in July from Sam’s Club, where he spent more than 17 years in a variety of roles, including, most recently, VP merchandising, health and family care. Reiser holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Northeastern University.

 

 

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With consumer confidence among poor waning, Family Dollar ups assortment, enhances checkout to add trips

BY Michael Johnsen

MATTHEWS, N.C. — One consequence of the government shutdown may be the erosion of consumer confidence among the poor, noted dollar store operator Howard Levine, executive chairman and CEO of Family Dollar, in a conference call with analysts last week. "The way I think about these kind of things is it’s just not a help to consumer confidence," he said. "The threat of the shutdown, the uncertainty regarding some of the government assistance that our consumers impact, the uncertainty around job growth are very real to our customer everyday."

According to Levine, more than 50% of the shoppers walking the Family Dollar aisle benefit from some sort of government assistance. "So when they hear and read about all this uncertainty, I think it impacts their confidence regarding their outlook." 

"While many higher-income consumers are feeling better and more confident about the future, our core customer continues to struggle," Michael Bloom, Family Dollar president and COO remarked earlier in the call. "They are dealing with tepid job growth, higher taxes and reductions in government assistance programs. The uncertainty is likely to continue as our government debates the future of many of these programs. In addition, we will continue to face difficult consumables comp comparisons. Our most difficult comparison of the year will be in the first quarter as we anniversary about a 12% comp increase in consumables," he said. "[However], these comparisons will ease as we move throughout fiscal 2014."

But the uncertainty on Main Street is becoming a challenge for those looking to meet and beat expectations on Wall Street. Family Dollar has significantly increased assortment in an effort to become more relevant to more shoppers, Bloom said. "The customer response has been very strong, and these enhancements are driving more trips. But we see further opportunities to make improvements in key consumables categories" he said. "As retailers, and you have heard me say this on several occasions, this is what we do. This year, we will continue to optimize our consumables assortment and continue to focus on being first with new items and with innovation. We will continue to sharpen our pricing strategy, making sure that we are priced right in key areas where the customer expects us to be right. We will continue to make strategic price investments to further enhance our strong value perception."

And Family Dollar is rolling out its latest look to consumers featuring an enhanced checkout area to entice return trips. "This area has been redesigned to increase the speed of checkout, improve the customer and team member flow and experience, and most importantly, drive sales of high-impulse and high-margin merchandise," Bloom said. "The new checkout will be in all renovated and new stores beginning in January."

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