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Kroger appoints diversity leader

BY Michael Johnsen

CINCINNATI — Kroger on Monday named Reuben Shaffer the grocer’s new chief diversity officer, effective immediately.

“Diversity is a core value at Kroger,” stated David Dillon, Kroger chairman and CEO. “We take our commitment to diversity seriously, both because it is right and because it makes us better at our business. When our decision-making is inclusive and reflects the diversity of our customers, we make better decisions.”

Shaffer will oversee Kroger’s comprehensive diversity initiatives, including supplier diversity and integrating the company’s ongoing commitment to create an inclusive culture into key business and organization initiatives.

Shaffer, 60, has been serving as VP retail operations for the Cincinnati/Dayton division and began his career with Kroger in 1988.

Shaffer will report directly to Dillon.

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Diversity expands beyond typical definition

BY Michael Johnsen

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — Diversity in the corporate sense used to be about hiring. Now for such companies as Walgreens, it means ensuring that the banner resonates among the diverse cultures the retailer serves. It’s more than neighborhood marketing; it’s what Walgreens might refer to as Customer Centric Retailing on a much deeper level.

(THE NEWS: Walgreens names first-ever chief diversity officer. For the full story, click here.)

It’s about getting closer to the community.

An example of that neighborhood resonance is the urban desert stores, where fresh food is being beefed up among ethnically diverse urban communities with no nearby supermarkets.

It started a couple of years ago when the company moved all 29 of its vice presidents of operations out of Deerfield and into the areas they oversee — to go be a part of the community.

It continues in the inner cities, where Walgreens’ urban desert stores, with their beefed-up fresh food offerings, are helping to fill the supermarket void. In pharmacy, it means looking at different chronic diseases that disproportionately affect certain ethnic groups and developing specialized disease state management programs for such conditions as diabetes that are resonate and are culturally relevant to the patient.

Pemberton will play a key role in these types of initiatives, and you can expect more because Walgreens has a goal to be “My Walgreens” to each one of its customers. That kind of relationship demands diversity.

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Paying attention to WMT store size experiments

BY Mike Troy

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — Walmart opened its first Express stores earlier this month to mixed reviews about the impact of the new format on the company domestic growth. At 15,000 sq. ft., Walmart opened the first Express location in Gentry, Ark., last week, but offered media and investment analysts a preview of the store prior to the company’s shareholders meeting on June 3.

(THE NEWS: Walmart Express makes debut. For the full story, click here.)

The store is a no-frills affair with bare concrete floors and an open rafter ceiling, and the merchandise mix is heavily oriented toward food, along with an emphasis on Walmart’s Site-to-Store service where it ships merchandise ordered online to stores for free. The jury is out on the format’s potential impact on pharmacy; the location in Gentry, which is about a 30-minute drive southwest of Walmart’s headquarters in Bentonville, contains a pharmacy, but another test location further south in the community of Prairie Grove does not. Both communities are quite small with only a few thousand residents and pharmacy competition limited to independents.

Judging from the location of the first Walmart Express stores, the competitors likely to feel the greatest impact are Dollar General and the 21-unit regional grocery chain Marvin’s food stores. Both have locations near the Walmart Express stores and surely will experience a loss of shopper traffic and sales as residents of Gentry and Prairie Grove check out Walmart’s newest concept.

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