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Soon after Valentine’s, food stores foster romance

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — The Washington Post on Thursday morning tagged the Wegmans in Lanham, Md. — a suburb of Washington — as "Club Wegmans," the latest hot spot to meet singles.

And it’s not just singles. According to the article, “Singles hook up in front of bins of fresh produce; couples gather for dates in the grocery store’s sit-down restaurant; and shoppers sway to music from overhead speakers, singing along with Prince, Luther Vandross and Teena Marie.”

It is testimony to the evolution for grocery retailing, the Post concluded; today’s supermarkets need to serve as community centers in addition to providing a one-stop-shopping solution. Both the new Wegmans and a nearby “Social Safeway” sport lounges.

For the full article, click here.

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Kroger EVP Don Becker dies

BY Allison Cerra

CINCINNATI — Supermarket giant Kroger announced company EVP Don Becker died Wednesday after suffering an aneurysm. He was 62 years old.

Becker had a 42-year career at Kroger, joining in 1969 as a clerk in the Cincinnati/Dayton division. In his most recent role as the retailer’s EVP, a position he held since 2004, Becker led the company’s merchandising and procurement for grocery, perishables, drug/general merchandise and pharmacy. He also had responsibility for advertising, consumer research and customer loyalty, manufacturing and corporate brands, customer insights and strategy, supply chain and supplier diversity. Kroger’s Cincinnati/Dayton division and the company’s retail clinic operator, The Little Clinic, reported to Becker.

During his career at Kroger, Becker also served as co-chair of Kroger’s first general office cultural council.

"We are deeply saddened to lose Don, our dear friend and extraordinary leader," said David Dillon, Kroger’s chairman and CEO. "Don leaves a legacy of enthusiasm and passion for doing what’s right for our customers and our associates. He touched the lives of countless people in our company, as well as throughout our industry and community. He was a true ‘people person’ who mentored many associates at every level of our business."

Becker is survived by his wife, daughter, son-in-law and grandson.

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Fresh & Easy touts more GreenChill stores than any other retailer

BY Allison Cerra

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — Supermarket retailer Fresh & Easy has added four more GreenChill-certified stores this year, a distinction developed by the Environmental Protection Agency’s GreenChill Partnership.

The company, which has stores in California, Arizona and Nevada, now has the most GreenChill-certified stores than any other retailer in the nation. Fresh & Easy opened its first GreenChill store in September 2010.

"We’ve worked hard to be thoughtful on the impact we have on the environment, and we’re excited to continue to innovate in this area," said Fresh & Easy CEO Tim Mason. "On average, our stores use 30% less energy than a typical supermarket, which not only helps the environment but also keeps our prices low so our customers can continue to save money."

EPA’s GreenChill Partnership works with food retailers to reduce refrigerant emissions and decrease their impact on the ozone layer and climate change.

"The fact that Fresh & Easy has received the most GreenChill awards for its stores in the nation speaks volumes for the company’s environmental commitment," said Keilly Witman, EPA’s GreenChill Partnership manager. "We’re happy to continue working with Fresh & Easy on bringing even more of its stores into the GreenChill program."

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