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GMDC awards Lifetime Achievement honor to retired Kroger exec

BY Michael Johnsen

PHOENIX — The Global Market Development Center on Monday announced its 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award recipient: Terry Cox, retired group VP for Kroger.

GMDC annually bestows its prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award upon a person who has contributed significantly to the general merchandise or health/beauty/wellness industries, as well as to GMDC through his or her leadership. Cox, who retired as group VP drug/GM merchandising and procurement at Kroger in 2001, acknowledged the importance of the relationships that Kroger developed through its support of GMDC, and he considered his participation to be an integral part of his successful retail career.

"Terry brought terrific leadership to both GMDC and our industry throughout his years of involvement with the association. His thought leadership was extremely valuable, and as a GMDC board member, he had a great talent for listening to the concerns of everyone and doing what was best for the industry at large," stated GMDC CEO and president Dave McConnell.

Cox joined Kroger in 1962 as a part-time clerk in Columbus, Ohio. He held a variety of merchandising positions in several Kroger retail divisions before becoming director of marketing in the company’s grocery merchandising department in 1987. In 1989, Cox was named president of Peyton’s, Kroger’s drug and general merchandise procurement and distribution subsidiary. Later that year, he was promoted to VP drug/GM merchandising. Cox was promoted to group VP in 1999.

“I can’t think of a better organization than GMDC to receive an award like this from,” Cox said when receiving his award. “I learned more about the industry and how my company was perceived than I ever could as a result of joining GMDC. This means a lot. Thanks from the bottom of my heart.”

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Consumers still challenged by economy; elevates store-brand appeal

BY Michael Johnsen

CINCINNATI — Consumer sentiment toward the economy continues to be negative, acknowledged David Dillon, Kroger chairman and CEO, a factor that may drive many consumers toward more of the value-driven store brands in which Kroger is investing.

"The sluggish economy continues to strain household budgets while increasing consumer anxiety," Dillon said. "In fact, customers tell us their expectation for the economy are more pessimistic now than at any time this year."

Corporate brands at Kroger certainly are on the rise. Kroger enjoyed 34% penetration in grocery department units sold for the second quarter ended Aug. 13, representing 27% of all grocery sales. "When you look at these trends compared to our first-quarter results, corporate brand dollars and total units each increased by 100 basis points," Kroger president and COO Rodney McMullen. "Our multibillion dollar corporate brand portfolio is a competitive advantage because it gives our customers more choices and variety and value to complement the broad assortment of national brand products we offer. This is particularly important today as many shoppers continue to watch expenses and look for quality items at affordable prices."

Inflation may be another factor forcing many consumers to take a closer look at store brands. The industry is continuing to pass along inflationary increases, including Kroger. "We will continue to pass along product cost increases from suppliers. At the same time, we will continue to invest for the future in pricing, people, products and customer shopping experience."

That means stocking that customer’s marketbasket with more margin-friendly store brands has become increasingly important, McMullen said. "Customers are even more value conscious when they shop, are buying smaller baskets and are selecting some lower-cost items, including our low — our corporate brand products. This has made the value we offer our customers through lower every day prices, weekly promotions and personalized rewards to loyal households even more compelling."

During Kroger’s discussion of second-quarter results with analysts last week, the Cincinnati-based grocer announced it would be expanding its selection of Big K brands soda flavors, including apple, pineapple, passion fruit, watermelon, kiwi, blackberry, citrus and mandarin.

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Mike-sell’s rolls out new snacks

BY Allison Cerra

DAYTON, Ohio — Snack food company Mike-sell’s has introduced five new products.

Mike-sell’s lineup of products now includes Blazin’ Hot Crunchin’ cheese curls, Cheese Crunchin’ cheese curls, Blazin’ Hot corn chips, barbecue corn chips and Smoky Mountain barbecue kettle-cooked potato chips.

Mike-sell’s snacks are sold at grocery and convenience stores nationwide.

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