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E and C NEWS

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Highlights of the September 2014 Issue


Veterans on Uphill March Toward Online Shopping Privileges


• WASHINGTON — If Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) Director and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Thomas Shull has his way, the lion's share of the nation’s veterans, those who are not already eligible to shop military resale stores, will receive a fresh set of marching orders,

Elements of current discussion arising from this latest push for expanded shopping privileges for Veterans have been revisited many times in recent decades; this time, however, new electronic shopping technologies may have cast the debate in a somewhat different light. ...

Leahy Named Acting VCS COO


• ST. LOUIS Joseph “Ray” Tober, SES, executive director of the Veterans Canteen Service (VCS), announced that James Leahy, the canteen service’s associate director of Field Operations, became acting chief operating officer, effective June 23. This move was followed by several other personnel shifts that became effective the same day, resulting in a total of five veteran VCS personnel taking on “acting” positions within their new bailiwicks. ...

Sales of Supplies Surge Ahead of Hawaii Hurricane


• HONOLULU — Hurricane Iselle was the first such weather disturbance to make landfall in Hawaii in 22 years. Approaching the nation’s 50th state in early August, the threat of storm-related disruption drove patrons to commissaries in significant numbers to stock up on groceries and other supplies. Elsewhere on the islands, a great many civilian stores quickly sold down to empty shelves.

According to a Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) spokesman, both the Schofield Barracks Commissary and the Pearl Harbor Commissary at JB Pearl Harbor-Hickam hit new single-day sales records on Aug. 5, before Hurricane Iselle hit Oahu, as patrons shopped to fill emergency kits to carry them through the hurricane. ...


AAFES Appoints VPs, Exec Assignments Shift


• DALLAS — The Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) recently named Karen Stack and Leigh Roop as executive vice presidents (EVP). These moves are part of the Exchange’s newly created executive leadership structure, which differentiates between levels of responsibility and aligns with the best practices of industry and federal agencies (see E and C News 8/14).

Six EVP positions were created as part of this new executive leadership structure. Stack and Roop join Renee , chief financial officer (CFO); Philip Stevens, chief information officer (CIO); Michael Immler, chief ; and Ana Middleton, chief merchandising officer (CMO). ...



NEXCOM Bingham Award: ‘It’s Not An Easy Award To Win’


• NWS YORKTOWN, Va. — The Navy Exchange Service Command (NEXCOM) facility here recently was a co-winner, along with NSA Northwest Annex, Va., of the Bingham Award for superior performance in fiscal 2013 in the $3 million to $7 million sales category.

Brett Haftel, NEXCOM’s Tidewater District operations manager, highlighted the accomplishment: “It is not an easy award to win,”— he said, adding that it was the first time in 23 years that the facility — which is led by Store Manager Monica Brown — had earned this award. “The store competes with all the similar sales volume stores around the world. What makes it all the more impressive was that during the end of 2013, this team’s focus was really dual-hatted; not only having to deal with the fourth quarter here, but also having to put in long hours on the Cheatham Annex NEX remodel.” ...


AAFES Customers Save Money With ‘Price Match’ Policy


• DALLAS — The Army & Air Force Exchange Service's (AAFES) “price match” policy can ease the financial strain the holidays often put on customers’ wallets, not only during this busy end-of-the- year period but any time of year.

For example, according to the Exchange, shoppers who price matched at the Fort Hood, Texas, Exchange saved $221,787 during 2013.

At Fort Hood and other brick-and-mortar locations, price differences of $10 or less are matched on the spot, with no comparison ad required. For price differences of $10 or more, shoppers can show a competitor’s current ad with a lower price for an identical product.

Eligible exchange online shoppers are also able to take advantage of this budget-friendly policy. Patrons who make purchases at shopmyexchange.com will find that the site matches lower prices from other online retailers on identical items that are available for sale and delivery in the customer’s area. ...

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Coca-Cola Names Mitchell North America VP Military — National Retail Sales


Coca-Cola North America’s Military Division welcomes Sarah Mitchell as its Vice President, Military – National Retail Sales. She is responsible for optimizing the company’s performance across the worldwide military marketplace.

Mitchell joined Coca-Cola Enterprises, U.K., in 2001, and following that appointment, she held several positions with the Commercial function, leading Coke and Diet Coke category commercialization for the South East U.K. and London regional marketing programs, Foodservice, and Vending, as well as On-Premise Channel Marketing, and Sports Drinks Category Commercialization and Innovation. Prior to joining Coca-Cola, she held positions at GlaxoSmithKline (Nutritional Beverages), Carlsberg-Tetley (Brewing) and with several U.K. grocery and clothing retailers.

NEXCOM Names Guizar 2013 Headquarters Associate of the Year


• VIRGINIA BEACH Carlos Guizar, facility project planner at the Navy Exchange Service Command’s (NEXCOM) West Coast Office in San Diego, Calif., was recently named the command’s 2013 Headquarters Associate of the Year.

Guizar led a team of seven craft and trade personnel during a 24-week major renovation project at the Pearl Harbor Exchange, JB Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. Originally intended as a contracted project, the significant phasing aspects of the $5.9 million renovation, along with an operational requirement to complete the work before the holiday season, led NEXCOM to turn to its in-house West Coast facilities team.

VCS ‘Gives Back’ to VA Community as ‘Platinum’ Sponsor of 2014 National Wheelchair Games


• PHILADELPHIA — The Veterans Canteen Service (VCS) recently served as a “Platinum” sponsor of the 34th National Veterans Wheelchair Games (NVWG), which were held here Aug. 12-17. The event, presented annually by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Paralyzed Veterans of America, is open to all U.S. military veterans who use wheelchairs for sports competition as a result of spinal cord injury, certain neurological conditions, amputations or other mobility impairments, and are focused on providing therapeutic, holistic treatments through adaptive sports.

This year marked the 14th time that the VCS sponsored this event, described as the largest annual wheelchair multi-sports event in the world. The VCS also served as one of the event host sponsors for the Air Pistol competition and the NVWG Athlete Block Party.


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DeCA, Fisher House, PepsiCo Celebrate Scholarship Award in Mitchel Field Commissary Ceremony


• MITCHEL FIELD, N.Y. — Even as a busy parking lot’s cohort of customers took advantage of a beautiful summer’s day to shop the small but bustling Mitchel Field Commissary and visit the adjacent Family Health Center and Navy Exchange here, NSB New London Commanding Officer (CO) Capt. Carl Lahti, USN, Commissary Store Director Pat Ward, Store Administrator Clarice Ruffin, industry, store and installation personnel, came together in the store’s lunch room to celebrate with the winner of Mitchel Field’s Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA)-Fisher House Foundation 2014 Scholarships for Military Children award, and members of her family.

Lahti, who has oversight responsibility for Mitchel Field, and Denise Passarella of PepsiCo, the scholarship sponsor, presented the winner, Natalia Podboraczynska, with a $2,000 scholarship certificate from DeCA, Fisher House and Pepsi congratulating the winner on her selection “on a competitive and highly selective basis as a result of meritorious achievement in academic studies, citizenship, school and community activities and leadership.”



DeCA Holiday Ordering: Seasonal Sales and Shopping Experience Rise to Meet Expectations


Preparations for the end-of-the-year holidays and holiday store support are in full swing at the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA). The headquarters based Sales Directorate (SD) is focused on putting together a program that will satisfy customers with both its range of assortment and price selection.

DeCA Director of Sales Tracie Russ and Marketing and Mass Media Specialist Sallie Cauthers spoke with E and C News in September about the agency’s sales and marketing objectives for this year’s holiday push.

“Our goal is to have a substantial increase in commissary sales for the holiday season this year over last year,” Russ noted. “Our seasonal packages have enjoyed excellent sales growth in the past, and we fully expect them to have another successful season. Sales in these seasonal packages will help drive overall store sales.” ...



On-the-Go Solutions Re-ignite Growth In AAFES C-Stores


It may be ironic that while overall sales in Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) convenience stores have wrestled with the impact of force reductions in Europe, industry-wide declines in gasoline sales, drawdowns from contingency areas, as well as new regulations affecting some alcoholic beverages in some stores, “quick-stop shopping” has nevertheless become one of the Exchange’s most dynamic store segments. It’s one of the places where military patrons will encounter the most innovation and change in the smallest footprint. It also represents a new front line — with new options for healthy and nutritious lifestyles for on-the-go patrons. The assortment balance, however, is an extremely delicate one — patrons are always seeking new options to make their daily on-the-go meals selections more interesting, but if they can’t find long-established perennial favorites, they will go elsewhere to purchase them.

AAFES Retail Food DMM David Arens told E and C News in August how the Exchange is aiming to stay one step ahead of the curve, and why the Express is fast becoming an important “go-to” store for troops and time-starved family members alike.

Serving as the agency’s senior enlisted advisor to the director since Feb. 1, 2011, Gaines was DeCA’s uniformed advocate, representing the concerns of the commissary’s enlisted customers, and helping the agency raise awareness of the benefit and its savings.

E and C News: What are some of the category areas with sales growth year-to-date 2014?

Arens: When I review some of the new programs we’re going to be introducing, it really signals to me that we are still constantly improving the fresh assortment for our customers, which continues to be great day-part meal solution for those we serve.

In our Hot Foods-to-Go category, we're trending positively for the year to date — it’s up 11 percent, which is very substantial. It also shows that our customer is connecting with our overall foodservice solution. We're adding some new programs to that area, which is a very positive sign for those categories.

The Chilled Foods-to-Go category, again, is another positive story — we’re up 8 percent and that’s complemented with the investment in island coolers, open-air refrigeration and grab-and-go foods. Whether a customer is grabbing a sandwich on the go, or simply a yogurt, the Healthier For You (HFY) items and beverages are strong mealtime solutions in the island coolers.

HFY items also continue to trend in a positive direction. Our Operation Be Fit (Op Be Fit) assortment is up 8 percent year to date, and we continue to introduce new items into that assortment. Initially those products are identified with a “New Item” sign in the stores. Eventually, after the new item period expires, an “Op Be Fit” tag is placed by the product to signal to the customer that it’s an HFY item that is still part of the Op Be Fit program. ...



MCX CONVENIENCE STORES: Marine Marts — Benchmarked and Branded for Future Success


Although changing regulations, deployment patterns and shifting retail sands have impacted recent Marine Corps Exchange (MCX) Marine Mart sales, the exchange service is laser-focused on achieving a consistent branding standard throughout its convenience store roster, which it believes will bode well for future success.

“One of the MCX’s most important strategic initiatives over the past few years has been branding our Main Stores,” explained Robert “Bob” McLaughlin, divisional merchandise manager (DMM) responsible for Consumables in the Marine Corps NAF Business and Support Services Division (NAFBSSD), the organization that oversees the Marine Corps Exchange (MCX). ...



NEXCOM Holiday Candy: Merchandising by Purchasing Occasion


In a challenging year for retail, candy has been one of the more resilient departments in Navy Exchange Service Command (NEXCOM) stores. Lorel Taylor, the exchange service’s candy, nuts and seasonal gift buyer, said cumulative fiscal 2013 candy sales during October, November and December in 2013 were $9.28 million, a 2.3-percent increase from the $9.07 million generated during the same three months in 2012.

“Halloween 2013 fell in the fiscal month of October in 2013, versus the prior year falling into November, thus the shift in dollars between the two months,” Taylor said. “We had a successful Halloween season, up about 2.5 percent over the prior year in total sales and up 5.6 percent promotionally.”

NEXCOM advertising featured what Taylor described as the exchange service’s best-selling Halloween pack type: the 10 oz.-11.5 oz. treat-sized chocolate “at a hot price of two for $5! We sold extra-large size bags — 100-count and over — and have found that our customers really respond to the value perception the 100-count and above offer. We love the trade-up opportunity it affords, and we have planned to repeat it, and show more emphasis on even larger count bags for 2014.”

For Christmas 2013, Taylor reported NEXCOM sales were up 1.5 percent, with what she called “very strong promotional results” that increased 16.3 percent over the prior year. ...





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