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C&S Names Verdi President; Cohen Shifts Role

KEENE, N.H. — C&S Wholesale Grocers on Monday said it has appointed Mark Verdi, an experienced global finance and operations executive, as president, a new position at the company.C&S Wholesale Grocers President Mark Verdi

Verdi, who will assume his responsibilities on March 1, is taking over day-to-day operation responsibilities from Rick Cohen, C&S’s CEO and chairman. Cohen will remain in his position but transition to a role driving strategy and innovation at the wholesaler, C&S said.

A native of Springfield, Vt., Verdi joins C&S from Bain Capital, where he is a managing director and co-head of the private investment firm’s Global Portfolio Group, which works with the management teams of the businesses it owns to define and execute growth strategies, enhance their operations, and improve organizational effectiveness. Prior to joining Bain in 2004, Verdi led the financial services business transformation group at IBM Global Services, and was a member of the leadership team that spearheaded the acquisition and integration of the consulting arm of PriceWaterhouseCoopers into IBM. From 1996 to 2001, he was SVP of finance and operations of Mainspring, a publicly held strategy consulting firm. He started his career at Price Waterhouse in 1988, holding positions of increasing responsibility.


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“Mark Verdi is a great addition to our management team who brings world class leadership and management skills and has a proven track record of strengthening teams and improving operations at large, fast-growing companies and global brands,” Cohen said in a statement. “I have gotten to know Mark well over the last two years, and am confident he will take our strategic execution and day-to-day operations to a new level as we continue to accelerate our growth, deliver exceptional service and value to our customers, and create rewarding career opportunities for our employees.”

Cohen will “remain fully engaged in driving the success of the business by focusing primarily on driving strategy and innovation”  and on finding new ways to grow, C&S said. 

Read more: Rick Cohen, No. 2 in Wholesaler Category on SN’s 2013 Power 50 List

“I am delighted to partner with Rick and the management team of this extraordinarily successful company at an exciting time in its development,” Verdi said. “I have spent most of my career working with management teams across a variety of industries to execute growth strategies and improve operational excellence. I am excited to be a part of C&S as I wanted my next career chapter to be a leadership role in a growing company that has great opportunities ahead. And, this is in many ways a homecoming as my family is elated to return to the area where we grew up.”

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SN Webinar: Landscape Shifts Real Estate Strategies

NEW YORK — The emergence of grocery shopping in the virtual world will have a profound impact in the physical one, likely to drive food retailers into smaller boxes, trigger portfolio breakups, and put a premium on top locations, according to panelists in an SN webinar. Servicing the “omnichannel shopper” also holds promise for growth for supermarkets, but will require they take a disciplined, strategic approach, they added. Panelist Deborah Weinswig, an analyst …

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SN Webinar: Landscape Shifts Real Estate, Growth Strategies

NEW YORK — A rapidly changing supermarket landscape — evidenced by the rise of e-commerce and a flurry of mergers and real-estate deals this year — presents tantalizing opportunities for food retailers to grow, but requires a disciplined, strategic approach, according to a panelists at an SN webinar on Wednesday.

“I never thought I’d say that grocery has become the most exciting sector out there but it truly has,” panelist Deborah Weinswig, an analyst covering retailing at Citi Research, said, reviewing an accelerated pace of change affecting the food retailing industry. “We don’t all know the direction it will go, but there is so much opportunity to improve operations and so much opportunity to improve the top line.”


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These opportunities are emerging in otherwise difficult times for supermarkets, landlords and, especially, shoppers at the lower end of the economic spectrum, the panelists cautioned. Lower-end consumers are have cut back on basic necessity shopping and are less likely to benefit from the current recovery in home sales, Weinswig said.

The specter of House legislation that would eliminate SNAP benefits for 3.8 million lower-income shoppers next year is also a threat that could have far-reaching effects on a variety of retailers, she said.

And while consumer confidence has picked up overall, Weinswig called it a “fragile” recovery still below pre-recession levels, and marked by shoppers focusing limited discretionary dollars on cars, housing, appliances and home improvement projects at the expense of “smaller pleasures” like electronics, appall and soft home goods.

However, consumers are also spending more at e-commerce, providing hope for food retailers who can get their offering right, she said.

Panelist Bill Bishop, chief architect at Bricks Meet Clicks and a founder of Willard Bishop Consulting, Barrington, Ill., noted that online sales growth will pressure physical retailers to drop the breakeven levels at physical stores. And those who expect to benefit from the sales shift from physical to virtual shelves will need to reduce their fulfillment costs.

SN Blog: Mergers Point to Confidence in Supermarkets

Bishop noted that 11% of shoppers regularly buy some grocery products online today. “That’s more than 1 in 10 shoppers. That puts a lot of pressure on the physical store,” he said.

From a real estate standpoint, the growth in e-commerce will likely accelerate the pace at which physical stores close, shifting leverage to property buyers who will then stick the struggling retailers with their own struggling sites, according to panelist Andrew Crouch, managing director of DJM Real Estate, a division of Gordon Brothers Group.

“You’re going to see more surgical deals,” Crouch predicted. “The days of buying 50 stores but only wanting 30 of them are over.”

Crouch urged retailers to think strategically about “pruning” their store base, reviewing markets and stores to determine where to invest and where to exit.

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Loblaw Shifts Key Executives

BRAMPTON, Ontario — Loblaw Cos. here said Wednesday it has named Grant Froese and Mark Butler to the newly created roles of chief administrative officer and executive vice president, integration, respectively.

Froese, a 35-year Loblaw veteran, most recently was executive vice president of Loblaw’s Discount Division. He assumes responsibility for supply chain, IT and SAP implementation, as well as the division support functions of control brands, e-commerce, goods not for resale, off-shore procurement and marketing.


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Butler, a 37-year veteran of Loblaw, will take on the responsibility for planning the integration of Shoppers Drug Mart, which Loblaw earlier this year had agreed to acquire. He will also lead the team charged with delivering synergies. He most recently was executive vice president, Conventional Division.

“Mark Butler is a seasoned operator with deep expertise and relationships in the key areas we have targeted for synergies. We are committed to achieving the targets we have outlined and I am confident that Mark and his team will deliver on those objectives,” said Vicente Trius, president, Loblaw.

Read more: Loblaw Eyes Growth in Shoppers Buy

Of Froese, Truis said his “combination of deep operational and merchandising experience is an ideal fit as we ramp up the IT rollout to our store network and drive our efficiency agenda to become a more agile company.”

Garry Senecal becomes executive vice president, Conventional Division, succeeding Butler, and continues to lead the health and wellness team.

Andrew Iacobucci becomes executive vice president, Discount Division, succeeding Froese. Iacobucci joined Loblaw in 2005 and has been a leader in the Discount division since 2011.

Having successfully completed the design and build phases of the supply chain and IT infrastructure project, Peter McMahon, chief operating officer, will be leaving the company.

“As chief operating officer, Peter was instrumental in the revitalization of our supply chain and the development of the SAP platform and digital strategy,” said Trius. “We thank Peter for his commitment and contribution to the company, and wish him the very best in his future endeavors.”

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French melon production shifts West

French melon production shifts West

Soldive’s melon season has shifted from Southern growing regions to areas in the Western part of France. Availability of melons are expected to continue through October.

Soldive’s portion of the melon season in the South of France is wrapping up, and now the growing for their yellow charentais melons will move to western sites. Production has already started in Royan (17), Thouars (79) and Chinon (37). Total production for the year is expected to reach 18,000 tons and brix levels are estimated to be between 12 and 16.

In honour of Soldive’s 50th anniversary, they developed new packaging for their charentais melons: “L’Expérience du Goût” which are available in counts of 12Q, 11 and 9.

For more information:
Tel: +33 5 49 67 41 61
Fax: +33 5 49 67 43 56
[email protected]

Publication date: 8/6/2013

NEPC shifts date of annual expo

The New England Produce Council is moving the date of its annual expo, from spring to fall, beginning in 2014.

The NEPC Produce & Floral Expo traditionally has been held in the early spring. The 14th expo was held April 2-3, 2013, for example.

But the 2014 expo will be held in the fall, according to NEPC Executive Director Laura Sullivan, who said that the exact date and venue will be announced in late August or September. The council then will continue to hold its expo in the fall on an annual basis, she added.

“We had good participation and good attendance” at the 2013 expo in Boston, Sullivan told The Produce News Tuesday evening, July 31. The 2013 show saw good participation from retailers in the New England area, as always. And keynote speaker Tim Wakefield, a retired knuckleball pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, delivered a well-received presentation.

So why is the council shifting to a later date?

“The whole reason is to highlight New England at its best,” said Sullivan. “We’re looking at the area we live in, and we feel it’s a great time [for attendees and exhibitors from around the country] to visit the New England area.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines

US (CA): Avocado harvest shifts North

With most of the avocados picked from Southern growing-regions in California, the State’s avocado harvest is moving North. Large supplies of fruit are expected to last through August, after which volumes will taper off in September.

“Picking is about 80 percent complete in Southern regions like Temecula and Escondido,” said David Fausset, sales and category manager for Mission Produce. “Ventura County’s harvest is about 75 percent complete, but there’s still quite a bit of fruit left farther North.” Supplies have been steady so far this season, but after strong demand during the earlier part of the month, Fausset expects a steadier market through the rest of the season.

“Prices spiked over the last few weeks because we were relatively short on smaller sizes,” said Fausset. “But we’re expecting more stability on pricing through the rest of the Summer.” Estimates of this year’s volume for the State have been around 505 million pounds, and though a cold Winter caused some sizing issues, there’s been no indication that quality of fruit has suffered.

“Supplies are matching up with demand pretty well right now,” said Fausset. “So we should see some stability through July and into August.”