Convenience Retailers: Advice for Wholesalers
Attendees during the Closing Super Session What's Driving the Changing Retail Landscape?
© 2012 Exposuresltd.com
Two top c-store operators, during Friday, February 17, 2012 morning’s closing general session, urged distributors to work closely with their retailer customers to help them adapt to changing consumer needs and priorities, governmental requirements, and to help find ways to increase operations efficiencies.
Jim Fiene, COO, Open Pantry Food Marts, a Wisconsin c-store operator with more than 25 locations, and Peter Tedeschi, president and CEO, Tedeschi Food Shops Inc., a New England operator with 196 locations, both said the services provided by their distributors are invaluable.
“The traditional categories that we relied on no longer can be counted on,” said Tedeschi. “We need to be realistic about that, so we need to try to augment with other categories, such as healthy options and foodservice and the like. And that helps to differentiate us from our competitors, and affords opportunity for growth by attracting non-traditional c-store customers into our stores.”
Tedeschi said it is essential to partner with distributors. “Help us understand what the opportunities are,” he urged. “If we rely on data from the past, we can only do what we did in the past. We need to try to look forward and build on that.”
Fiene pointed out that it’s important for distributors to help bring new products to market quicker so c-stores can compete against Target and Wal-Mart and other large competitors. “It has to be national,” he said. “Sometimes it takes us six months to get things that New York and California are already having success with.”
Fiene also urged distributors to help reduce the number of vendor deliveries that clog up the stores and the parking lot. “We’re always looking to get less trucks on our lot,” he said. “How much more can we get from our wholesaler?” He pointed out that for the fresh products carried by his stores, six different vendors are used, each with their own deliveries.
Tedeschi stressed the importance of private label, particularly in areas such as salty snacks and foodservice. “To the extent wholesalers can help with that gives us a competitive advantage,” he said.
As the economy comes back and unemployment rates decline, Fiene predicted that “Bubba” would return to convenience stores. Combined with the new shoppers that have been attracted by adding foodservice and specialty coffee bars, the future is bright.
But he expressed concern about the impact of health reform on his company, noting that his company employs about 15 people per store. “What is going to happen three years from now? What do we do? This is a huge mountain ahead of us.”