What’s In a Label …?

E and C NEWS

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Highlights of the December 2014 Issue


‘MCX Will Be On Point, for Today and Tomorrow’


Unafraid of challenges and undaunted by “change,” Cindy Whitman Lacy has only to look as far as the Marines she serves for a model of the courage, ingenuity and tenacity she has brought to improving the Marine Corps resale benefit through almost two decades.

Now as director of the recently reorganized Marine Corps Non-Appropriated Fund Business and Support Services Division (NAFBSSD) she and her team have their sights set on a fresh set of objectives, from logistics and evolving store formats to category rationalization and e-commerce.

Lauded by Lt. Gen. Robert E. Milstead, USMC, deputy commandant, Manpower & Reserve Affairs, for her vast experience, superb leadership, and vision, Whitman Lacy has delivered at every stop during her long military resale career. In this interview, Whitman Lacy talks about what makes her most proud to serve the Marines, and her continued focus on optimizing MCX efficiency while positioning the exchange to be a valuable and sustainable benefit in changing military and retail environments. ...


E and C News: You’ve spoken much of change in recent years. Where do you see the MCX today in that evolution toward greater relevance?

Cindy Whitman Lacy: I am proud of our legacy of change management and our commitment to providing valued and relevant services to our Marines, families, and all authorized patrons.

In order to do that, we need to ensure our programs are relevant and efficient. We must operate our revenue generators as ongoing, successful business operations.

To be successful and sustainable, we must be able, and willing, to change.

As always, the valued benefit will be the products, programs and services that are relevant to our patrons’ lifestyles, all while focusing on efficiency in our operations.

Ten years ago, MCX recapitalization was not a priority or thought about holistically. Our stores were woefully undercapitalized, and we had to catch up quickly if we expected these revenue generators to continue to perform and remain relevant.

So, lesson learned; capitalization is an investment in the future and not just an expense. Our organizational culture has shifted to understand the importance of not only investment, but sustainment of those investments. Keeping focused on those investments will allow us to do both; deliver a great experience and benefit to our customers, and sustain the healthy dividend returned to Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR).


DeCA Funding Cuts Blunted, Tobacco and Merchandise Rules Change with 2015 NDAA


• WASHINGTON — On its way to the White House for President Obama’s signature at press time, the version of the “Carl Levin and Howard P. ‘Buck’ McKeon National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2015” which emerged out of conference between House Armed Service Committee (HASC) and Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) negotiators in early December, could leave the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) and the Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) digging deep once again to find efficiencies to compensate for proposed measures that would scale back commissary benefit funding and impact Exchange earnings on tobacco. ...

Familiar Yet Evolving Challenges Await SECDEF Nominee Carter


• WASHINGTON — On Dec. 5, just days after President Barack Obama’s Nov. 24 announcement that Chuck Hagel, the secretary of defense since early 2013, would leave his post, Dr. Ashton Carter — the deputy secretary of defense from October 2011 to December 2013 — was chosen by the President as Hagel’ s successor, pending confirmation hearings on his candidacy to be held early in 2015. ...


Reignited Commissary Value Brand Program Makes Long-Awaited ‘Store Brand’ Splash


• FORT LEE — Debate in Congress, and widespread misunderstanding of commissary value product programs and options, gave the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) something of a migraine in 2014, and a headache for which Adm. James Winnefeld, USN, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was unable to find any “private label” relief on commissary shelves.

While commissary advocates were quick to point out that Winnefeld’ s shopping visit overlooked a value brand of ibuprofen, GoodSense, sold at a lower price in commissaries than commercial supermarket store labels, the message surrounding the store brand and private label debate was not lost on DeCA. The agency rapidly rekindled the fire under its value brand program, and reengineered its moving parts, ahead of National Defense Authorization Act provisions which, if signed by the President, would give DeCA the legal leeway necessary to sell its own store brands, all with the assumption that it would find it necessary and cost-effective to do so. ...


Wright Resigns as USD (P&R)


• WASHINGTON — On Dec. 4, Jessica Wright, under secretary of defense (USD) for Personnel and Readiness (P&R), tendered her resignation from this position — a key post with oversight of commissaries and exchanges — following the departure of her boss, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, who resigned on Nov. 24.

According to reports, Wright submitted her letter of resignation to President Obama and Hagel, and did so just one day before the President nominated Ashton Carter to succeed Hagel. ...


Military Veterans In Congress


Following the most recent mid-term elections, 17 new Congressional members bring a record of military service with them to Capitol Hill, joining 84 others. ...


HASC Names Thornberry Chairman


• WASHINGTON — On Dec. 2, Rep. William McClellan “Mac” Thornberry (R-Texas) was chosen to chair the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) for the 114th Congress. Thornberry, the first Texan ever selected to lead the committee, succeeds the retiring Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-Calif.) as the committee’ s chairman. ...


DeCA Case-Lot Sales Reassert Savings Benefits


• FORT LEE — Just ahead of the Defense Commissary Agency’s (DeCA) fall series of case-lot sales, Director and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Joseph Jeu addressed the importance of the agency’ s re-emergent case-lot sales program with DeCA employees via the agency’ s employee Intranet. Now, the results are in, and although the cancellation of last year’ s events due to budget cuts and changes in reporting seem to muddy direct comparisons with the results of sales from years gone by, the most recent series of case-lot events were a welcome shot in the arm for customer savings and agency sales.

All told, DeCA customer purchases generated $55.35 million on the days of the case-lot sales events, 18.99 percent better than year-ago store sales of $46.51 million when no case-lot sales were held. The $8.85 million delta was spurred by nearly $7 million in sales of case-lot sale merchandise. ...

AAFES’s Carroll to Direct Global Sourcing as MD DMMs Shift


• DALLAS — Among a series of executive changes slated for the spring 2015 time frame, the Exchange has announced that Arthur Carroll, who was the Hardlines divisional merchandise manager (DMM) in the Merchandising Directorate’s (MD) Pacific Buying Office, will be moving Stateside in April 2015 as the Exchange’ s director of Global Sourcing. He succeeds Natalie Rowland, who, in turn, replaces Carroll as DMM, Hardlines, in the Pacific Buying Office, effective in March 2015. ...

New Members of Congress Add Service Experience to Hill


• WASHINGTON — Although the 114th Congress does not convene until January, the heightened expectations upon this newest class of legislators already started to build before they took their seats.

With the most recent mid-term elections, 17 new members are likely to join the new Congress, pending the results of runoffs and undecided races, and among them are several who bring with them a record of military service, including Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve, and Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force Reserve.

They join a Congress that maintains a connection with the military, as among them are a total of 101 members who have served or are currently serving in the military — the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard — or in each respective service’ s National Guard or reserve. ...

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Defense Commissary Agency Fiscal 2014 Sales Statistics Snapshot


A Snapshot of DeCA results, including top stores by area, sales by area, top 10 commissaries by sales volume and more.



Wine, Spirits Show Strength


As the Navy Exchange Service Command (NEXCOM) entered its fiscal 2014 stretch run, it was unclear to what extent the wines and spirits categories had been impacted by alcohol deglamorization and other restrictions placed on display and sale of its alcoholic beverage assortments, in particular in Mini-Marts. Nevertheless, spirits and wine continued to generate significant sales and foot traffic for the exchange service, albeit at lower unit volumes.

“All locations are affected by last year’ s deglamorization efforts, and are on bases which did have locations from which we did exit either spirits or wine and spirits,” said Debbie Scher, NEXCOM wine and spirits category buyer. “While we can see that some of the traffic has transitioned to the main selling location for the base, we cannot be certain how much we may have lost as a result of category reductions.” It is also unknown to what extent diminished tobacco sales have affected other categories. ...



Patrons Take ‘PAWS’ To Consider Commissary Pet Assortment


In May, the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) announced that James Taylor had joined its Sales Directorate roster as the category manager responsible for pet and household items.

Taylor served with the Marine Corps Exchange (MCX) for the previous six years, most recently as a business services specialist. Moving from an exchange position to a commissary position is somewhat unique, and Taylor said that while “there are many similarities when comparing this role to my prior role, the mission is the same — serving those who serve — but now, it’s across all military services.”

Working with his category teammate — Merchandising Specialist Janet Berry — has helped in this transition. Through early October, the Pet Team consisted of Taylor and Berry, with a business analyst reportedly being added to the team at a later date.

“Janet Berry and I continuously work together as a team, offering our commissary patrons recognizable, branded pet products, at the lowest prices possible.” ...





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