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Network of Executive Women names co-chairs for CPG Retail Diversity Forum 2012

BY Michael Johnsen

CHICAGO — Eva Kohn of Valassis and Subriana Pierce of Supervalu are co-chairing the Network of Executive Women CPG Retail Diversity Forum 2012, March 6 to 8, in Dallas, NEW announced Wednesday. The NEW Diversity Forum, formerly the Multicultural Workforce Conference, is one of the consumer products and retail industry’s leading diversity and inclusion events.

“Eva Kohn and Subriana Pierce are well-recognized by their industry peers as thought leaders on the subject of workplace diversity and its bottom-line benefits,” stated NEW President and CEO Joan Toth. “They both bring significant real-life experience to table, which has enhanced the NEW Diversity Forum’s program, making the event relevant and valuable for women and men across CPG retail functions.”

Pierce serves as SVP sales and merchandising for Albertsons’ Southern California division, leading a team of more than 50 people responsible for developing sales and merchandising strategies and influencing the activities of more than 22,000 associates in 258 stores throughout Southern California and Las Vegas. As SVP strategic accounts for Valassis, Kohn is responsible for more than $1 billion in revenue and oversees the firm’s largest retail clients.

The CPG Retail Diversity Forum will focus on three pillars of workplace diversity: managing diverse work teams, marketing to multicultural consumers and leveraging supplier diversity. Attendees will engage in 16 hours of programming, eight hours of networking opportunities and three two-hour "super sessions." Speakers will include Tom Greco, president of Frito-Lay North America; Anthony Carter, global chief diversity officer for Johnson & Johnson; and Linda Clement-Holmes, chief diversity officer and SVP global business services for Procter & Gamble.

Cheryl Pearson-McNeil, SVP public affairs for The Nielsen Company, will give Diversity Forum attendees a briefing on today’s changing consumer landscape. Later, ID Media chairman and CEO Lynn Fantom will address ways to use social media to connect to underserved multicultural consumers.

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Kroger posts 32 consecutive quarters of comp sales gains; increases outlook for year

BY Michael Johnsen

CINCINNATI — Kroger posted its 32nd consecutive same-store sales gains as the grocer continues to grab market share due to a combination of a customer service initiative and value pricing.

"On-going market share gains are a product of Kroger’s Customer First strategy, where the company focuses on driving cost savings to reinvest in its four keys: prices, people, products and shopping experience," said Charles Grom, Deutsche Bank research analyst. "We believe the company has been particularly focused on investing in price and driving a pricing gap with conventional competitors. … The company’s lower prices are increasingly important to today’s more value-focused consumer."

During a recent price survey conducted by Credit Suisse in the Chicago and Dallas markets, Walmart has been widening its price gab between competitors with two exceptions — one of them being Kroger (the other being Target).

Kroger on Thursday reported a third-quarter sales increase of 10.3% to $20.6 billion, including fuel. For the period ended Nov. 5, total sales excluding fuel were up 5.1% over last year, the grocer reported.

Identical supermarket sales, without fuel, increased 5% in the third quarter over the same period last year.

Coming out of the third quarter, Kroger increased its diluted earnings per share guidance to $1.95 to $2.00 for the full year. Previously, the range was $1.85 to $1.95. The company also raised the low end of its identical supermarket sales growth guidance, excluding fuel, to 4.5% to 5% for the year. Previously, identical supermarket sales were expected to range from 4% to 5%.

Kroger also is bullish looking ahead to 2012, in part because of the generic wave that’s coming. "In terms of pharmacy, we’re just delighted with our trend and where we are," said Rodney McMullen, Kroger’s president and COO. "As you look out to 2012, there’s a lot of major drugs that will move out to generics. … The growth profit rate will be helpful."

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