Southeastern Grocers lays off 250 in organizational restructure

Southeastern Grocers has laid off roughly 250 associates as part of an organizational restructure of the store support center in Jacksonville, FL, and regional support centers across seven states in the Southeast.

The company, which said the change was made "in an effort to simplify its operating model and increase efficiency," added that there are no changes to in-store operations teams. southeastern

"The changes will enable Southeastern Grocers to reinvest in improved quality, service and value for customers, develop store improvement programs across the network, and support the stores more effectively," the company said in a statement. "And the efficiencies will also enable Southeastern Grocers to better address the needs of its customers."

The company said all affected associates will be supported through the restructure of the organization with career transition services, full and fair compensation and personal support to assist associates and their families.

All departing associates will be provided with the following: full compensation regardless of an associate’s length of tenure; health benefits for the total notice period; departing associates will retain their employee discount for 12 months; and departing associates with over 20 years of service to Southeastern Grocers will retain their employee discount for a decade.

Southeastern Grocers, parent company of BI-LO, Harveys and Winn-Dixie, operates more than 750 grocery stores and pharmacies across Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama and Georgia.

$12.58 million for A&P insiders leading up to bankruptcy

A&P insiders received $12.58 million in payments during the year leading up to the company filing for bankruptcy protection July 19. Chairman Gregory Mays alone received more than $4.5 million in bonuses and consulting fees.AP

In a message to members, UFCW 464A President John T. Nicolai said, "This union finds those payments outrageous and unconscionable. We are losing our jobs from a mismanaged company that has the audacity to reward those that are causing our misery and strife. Your union strongly believes, and will fight for the concept that those funds should be recovered and used to benefit the union workers and the creditors."

In documents filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court earlier this week, the company detailed payments made to current and former executives, as well as other insiders.

Paul Hertz, chief executive officer, and Christopher McGarry, chief administrative officer, each received a $1.5 million contribution from an executive management trust three months before the company filed for bankruptcy protection. Earlier in the year each received a $225,000 bonus for 2014.

Eric Kanterman, chief merchandising officer, received a $400,000 retention payment two days before the company filed for bankruptcy protection.

Less than a year after joining the company, Timothy Carnahan, senior vice president and chief financial officer, received a $250,000 contribution from the executive management trust.

The documents also provide information on payments made to these and other executives for salary, benefits, cell and car allowances, expense repayments, vacation time and holiday pay.

Plan for National Papaya Board advances

Homero Levy de Barros has been around papayas his entire life. As a child growing up in Brazil, he ate them almost daily. Now as president of a tropical fruit company that bills itself as a papaya specialist, he sells them by the container. So there is very little he doesn’t know about the fruit.

And one thing he does know is that papayas have a much greater potential than they are currently realizing in the United States.Papayas-on-packing-beltA new National Papaya Board, modeled after the success of the National Mango Board and the National Watermelon Promotion Board, will be under consideration at an Oct. 23 meeting in Atlanta during the PMA Fresh Summit.

“The key is to better educate everyone in the supply chain, as well as consumers, about the many benefits of this fruit,” said Levy de Barros, who founded his company, HLB, 26 years ago in Germany and opened HLB USA in Florida 17 years ago.

He has long wanted to collaborate with other papaya grower-shipper-importers to exchange ideas for the betterment of the papaya industry, but prior efforts proved fruitless.levyHomero Levy de Barros

Now, based on the success of boards formed for commodities such as avocados, watermelons and mangos, Levy de Barros is making a push to form a similar board for papayas, and he has enlisted William Watson to help guide the effort.

Watson, a former executive director of the National Watermelon Promotion Board and the National Mango Board, who now runs a consultancy called The Fresh Approach that specializes in working with commodity boards, will lead a meeting of the papaya industry at the upcoming Produce Marketing Association Fresh Summit convention in Atlanta, with the ultimate goal of forming a National Papaya Board.watsonWilliam Watson

“The idea is to mirror what William did with the watermelon and mango boards,” said Levy de Barros. “Because of their success, I have always thought that we could do the same for papayas. If we get everyone together, we could raise awareness for this wonderful fruit. The potential is tremendous for increasing papaya sales.”

Watson said he is energized by the opportunity to help the papaya industry form a board.

“It’s really kind of fun to get all those growers and importers into a room and help them get together to better handle their product,” said Watson.

In laying out a framework for the formation of a board, Watson said the first step is to get the industry together to see if there is interest. Provided there is industry support, he said the industry will have to decide if they want a research and promotion board or a voluntary option, which will be discussed at the meeting in Atlanta.

A research and promotion board has the authority to collect money through assessments for the purpose of researching or promoting the commodity, but it differs from a marketing order in that it cannot enforce grade standards.

“If they choose to form a board, the government will want to see that the industry is organized and it’s not just one or two growers behind the effort,” said Watson. “The government also wants to see a diversity of interests involved in the papaya industry. It will be important for us to get USDA on our side because the industry will have to make a proposal at some point to make this happen.”

He said the proposal would include such information as the assessment rate, the number of members on the board and what will be done with the money that is collected. USDA will look at the proposal and likely come back with a number of questions, said Watson. Once the questions have been addressed, the proposal will be published in the Federal Register and be open for comments from the industry. Provided there is sufficient support, a referendum will be held and the future of the board will be determined.

“The beauty of a board like this is that the industry can shape it any way it wants,” said Watson. “If there is enough support through the referendum, then the industry can start collecting assessments, manage industry resources and promote papayas.”

Regarding the timetable for the formation of a board, Watson said he has seen it take anywhere from 18-24 months up to five years.

“But I think that is something I can help with,” he said. “It is a relatively small core of people involved, and I think we can move things along pretty quickly. The one main challenge I see is that depending on when things start to advance, we will be working with an outgoing [presidential] administration or a new administration, and this will likely not be a priority for either.”

“I contacted a number of growers and importers and all thought it was a great idea,” said Levy de Barros. “I can only see this as a win-win situation for all involved with papayas. We want to create demand with stable prices so we can avoid the valleys by maintaining steady consumption. William knows how to navigate through the labyrinth of bureaucracy, and I am very excited that this will begin a new chapter in papaya history.”

Watson said the meeting would be held Friday, Oct. 23, at 1 p.m. in room B202 in the Georgia World Congress Center.

Levy de Barros encourages those who cannot attend the meeting to visit him in the HLB Specialties booth (No. 2069) during Fresh Summit or email him at for more information.

SuperValu CEO to retire, executives promoted

SuperValu Inc. announced that Sam Duncan has informed the company’s board of directors of his intention to retire as president and chief executive officer on Feb. 29, 2016, following the end of the company’s fiscal year. The company also announced that Bruce Besanko has been promoted to the newly created role of executive vice president, chief operating officer, reporting to Duncan, and that Susan Grafton has been promoted to executive vice president, chief financial officer, reporting to Besanko. Both appointments are effective immediately.supervalu

Duncan was named president and CEO in February 2013 in connection with the sale by SuperValu of five retail grocery banners to Albertson’s. Under Duncan’s leadership and direction, SuperValu has repositioned its three core business segments: Independent Business, Save-A-Lot and its five remaining regional Retail Food banners, as well as helped deliver increases in shareholder value. Duncan, 63, is retiring to spend more time with his family in the Pacific Northwest.

“SuperValu is a terrific organization and we have accomplished a great deal together during the past two-and-a-half years,” Duncan said in a press release. “I have thoroughly enjoyed working with our employees and thank them for all of their hard work and dedication. I am also looking forward to finishing the year strong and continuing to drive sales and cash through my remaining time at the company, as well as providing time and support to ensure a smooth transition for my successor. After 46 years in the grocery and retail business, this is a bittersweet moment, but I am also excited by the opportunity to have more time for my family and personal interests following my retirement.”

“Sam has made a tremendous contribution to SuperValu during his tenure as president and CEO,” Jerry Storch, non-executive chairman of the board, said in the release. “He helped stabilize the business following the sale of the five retail grocery banners and has led a turn-around in the performance of the entire company, including improving the performance of all three of its core business segments. The company is in a better place today because of Sam’s leadership. The board is very grateful and appreciative for Sam’s contributions to the company. The board process for naming the next CEO is under way, including consideration of internal and external candidates.”

In his role as chief operating officer, Besanko will retain oversight of the finance function, and assume oversight of the company’s independent business operations, five regional Retail Food banners, and the company’s merchandising, marketing and pharmacy functions.

“I’m very pleased that Bruce has been promoted to the role of COO for our company,” Duncan said in the release. “He has done a superb job as CFO for SuperValu, working with me and the leadership team on all aspects of the company’s turnaround success. He is an astute businessman who has always impressed me with his leadership and how he deals with business challenges and opportunities. In this role, I am confident he’ll help lead our operations teams to successfully plan and execute against our future business strategies.”

Duncan continued, “Additionally, we are very fortunate to have Susan in our ranks as someone who can step right into the CFO role. She has a tremendous financial background and has been instrumental in helping us reposition our financial organization and the overall business over the past one-and-a-half years.”

Montreal Canadiens-Provigo partnership renewed

Provigo announced that its partnership with the Montréal Canadiens is being renewed for three years, confirming its status as the Habs' official grocery store. As a partner, Provigo will do more than ever for customers and Canadiens fans with a series of new initiatives throughout the season, including in-store promotions throughout the year to win more than $100,000 in team-related prizes.provigo

"We are very proud to have renewed and, in particular, expanded our partnership with this organization, which — in addition to generating a lot of pride in Quebecers — shares our values of social and community engagement," Charles Valois, vice president of promotions for Provigo and Loblaws Québec, said in a press release.

Starting with the first game on Oct. 7, the "Earn points with every win" promotion will give everyone enrolled in the PC Plus rewards program a chance to earn bonus points on the purchase of certain specially marked products after the team wins a game.

"The points can be accumulated and are offered until the end of the next game, which is on October 10. If the Canadiens win again, the points will be available until the end of the next game, and so on. If the Canadiens lose, the points will not be available until they log another win. This could represent hundreds of millions of PC points in all," Valois said in the release.

"The partnership is part of relaunching Provigo in Québec; the relaunch stresses discovery, taste and freshness, in other words, the fact that we love food," Nathalie Langlois, marketing director for Provigo and Loblaws Québec, said in the release. "Accordingly, the campaign's creative platform focuses on the Elevate your Game signature."

During home games at Bell Centre, fans will be able to enjoy a new twist on the classic hot dog and other traditional hockey foods thanks to the two Provigo condiment bars. The stations will be set up in Club Desjardins to give fans a chance to discover original ways to dress up classic foods with the savory President's Choice and PC Black Label Collection brand condiments. Following some games, product samples will also be handed out to fans.

The partnership also includes the return of the Canadiens' popular Provigo Practice, to be held at Bell Centre on Feb. 21, 2016.

"Our customers are huge Canadiens fans and share our passion for hockey," Langlois said in the release. "Last January, 14,000 customers attended the Canadiens' Provigo Practice, a family event that invites fans to attend an official hockey practise and interact with players. Many such fans expressed their thanks in person or through social media. More than 1,275 tweets with the hashtag #ProvigoHabsGo were posted."