Dos emprendedores españoles quieren lanzar el primer jamón ibérico de bellota Made in Texas.

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Sergio Marsal y Manuel Murga se encuentran en un matadero en Columbus, Texas, explicando sus planes para transformar los cerdos españoles que están criando en un rancho cercano en jamón ibérico de bellota. “En lugar de importarlo, lo hacemos aquí. Igual que los europeos que plantaron viñas en California”, explica Marsal.

Acornseekers, la compañía que fundaron hace tres años en Flatonia, Texas, es la primera que se ha lanzado a criar cerdos ibéricos en EEUU para su comercialización. De momento, alrededor de 50 restaurantes de lujo de todo el país han comprado carne de los cerdos de Acornseekers, quienes empezaron a venderla en pequeñas cantidades el pasado mes de abril. “Estamos diciendo que no a clientes que quieren grandes cantidades”, puntualiza Murga.

Llevar los icónicos cerdos ibéricos a EEUU ha sido una aventura burocrática para Marsal, un antiguo ejecutivo de marketing de Barcelona, y Murga, un ingeniero agrícola que creció entre estos animales en las afueras de Sevilla. Ambos convencieron a las autoridades españolas para que les dejara sacar cerdos de España y luego tuvieron que seguir todas las normas de EEUU en cuanto a la importación porcina. En 2014 finalmente consiguieron llevar 150 ejemplares a Nueva York, donde permanecieron un mes en cuarentena para después ser enviados al rancho de la empresa.

La elección de Texas no es casual: está lleno de robles, y las bellotas (acorn en inglés, de ahí el nombre de su empresa) son la clave el sabor único de los cerdos ibéricos. Junto a los fundadores, otros cinco españoles han invertido más de 3 millones de dólares de su propio dinero para establecer la compañía.

De momento, han registrado el nombre de Ibericus para demostrar la pureza de la raza. “No nos dirigimos al público en general. Nuestro objetivo es la élite”, explica Manel Echevarría, ejecutivo de Swarovski y uno de los inversores en la empresa.

Un mercado de 200 millones de dólares

La carne de cerdo ibérico, ya sea fresca o curada, está siendo cada vez más demandada entre los grandes cocineros estadounidenses, que valoran su sabor y su textura, muy diferente del tradicional porcino criado en granjas-factoría. El consumo de jamón en EEUU está en máximos históricos, según el ICEX, quien estima que el valor conjunto del mercado en EEUU rondó los 200 millones de dólares.

Acornseekers tiene en la actualidad alrededor de 2.000 ejemplares ibéricos, 250 de los cuales fueron al matadero este mes, y esperan tener un total de 5.000 cerdos el año que viene. Además de vender la carne y el jamón, la empresa también provee de cerdos a granjeros locales, quienes se encargan de criarlos por sus propios medios y dan parte de sus beneficios a Acornseekers.

José Manuel Montoya, profesor de la Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, asegura que apostar por EEUU es inteligente. En España, la población de robles está disminuyendo y no se están replantando, lo que amenaza la producción de ibérico.

Ahora mismo, el mayor reto para Acornseekers es construir un secadero. De momento han elegido una nave industrial en Columbus y van a lanzar una campaña de crowdfunding en junio para conseguir 2 millones de dólares. El objetivo es tener completo el proyecto para finales de año y comenzar a vender el primer jamón ibérico de bellota Made in Texas en 2018.

Whole Foods details what’s in store for ‘365’

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Whole Foods Markets on Thursday confirmed a May 25 opening date for its 365 small-store concept in Los Angeles, and detailed features including a self-service tea bar, a vegan fast-casual restaurant, on-line ordering through Instacart and custom created apparel for its workers.

The Austin, Texas-based retailer described 365 as a “quality-meets-value” interpretation of its traditional store with a curated product selection that adheres to the standards of its parent brand “in an environment that’s fun and convenient for shoppers.”

Whole Foods is opening its first 365 store in Los Angeles.

Whole Foods is opening its first 365 store on May 25 in Los Angeles.

The 30,000-square-foot store in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles will host several “Friends of 365” through partnerships with the vegan fast-casual restaurant By Chloe, as well as Allegro Coffee Co. and teaBOT, a new retail platform that provides custom grab-and-go tea in under 30 seconds, the company said.

Friends of 365 is an opportunity for innovative businesses and entrepreneurs that align with the mission and quality standards of Whole Foods Market to establish their own independent retail spaces inside of 365 by Whole Foods Market stores.

Whole Foods has plans for at least 13 365 stores.

Allegro will expand its coffee experience with a craft brew bar, serving customers hot coffee, cold beer and a selection of food items. Toronto-based startup teaBOT will install an efficient self-serve kiosk, allowing customers to personalize tea by mixing up to three of 18 different teas and herbal ingredients. By Chloe will offer guests a diverse menu of plant-based foods, including burgers, salads, market specials, pastas and sweets, that can be enjoyed in the restaurant, taken to-go or to a communal dine-in experience elsewhere in the store, the company said.

“With each store, we’re looking to curate a unique experience. Allegro’s craft brew bar will provide a casual place for Silver Lake residents to relax before or after they shop, while teaBOT’s unique service will offer a quick, yet deeply personalized tea-making experience,” Jeff Turnas, president of 365 by Whole Foods Market, said in a statement. “We’ve really dedicated ourselves to partnering with like-minded companies that are doing new and interesting things in their respective field to bring a truly unique shopping experience that complements our thoughtfully curated selection of foods.”

The company said it will offer online ordering and delivery services through Instacart. It selected sustainable casual goods purveyor Loomstate to custom design team member apparel for its stores. Loomstate was chosen for its contemporary looks, sustainable practices and commitment to organic products, 365 said.

SuperSano inaugura su segunda tienda en Valencia.

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La cadena de supermercados ecológicos SuperSano abrirá mañana en Valencia un nuevo establecimiento en la calle Jesús número 105, junto al mercado del mismo nombre y que se suma al que ya tiene en el centro de la ciudad.

Los supermercados SuperSano integran todos los productos necesarios para la alimentación y el hogar en su versión ecológica. Cuenta con más 3.000 referencias distintas repartidas en las secciones habituales de cualquier supermercado convencional: panadería, frutas y verduras, carnes, lácteos, snacks, bebidas, limpieza e higiene personal. También incluye herboristería, cosmética natural y productos tanto para celíacos como para otras intolerancias alimentarias.

En 2013 inició una estrategia de crecimiento y expansión nacional con un goteo de aperturas que ha incrementado el número de tiendas desde las 4 con que contaba en ese momento hasta las 12 con las que inicia 2016. En este momento, la cadena está presente en Alicante, Elche, Altea, Murcia, Albacete, Zaragoza, Valencia y Madrid, en esta última con 4 supermercados. Para este ejercicio tiene previsto mantener el mismo ritmo de inauguraciones  -en 2015 abrió 5 establecimientos- de modo que espera finalizar el año con al menos 16 tiendas.

El modelo de SuperSano responde a la creciente preocupación de los consumidores por la salud, la seguridad alimentaria y el respeto y cuidado por el medio ambiente en la producción de los alimentos. Su objetivo es promover la cultura ecológica entre la población española como un modo de vida, y, para que así sea, se ha propuesto que el precio de los productos ecológicos no sea un impedimento para los que se quieren iniciar en el consumo de estos productos. Con ese fin, su estrategia comercial se centra en igualar cada vez más el precio al de un supermercado convencional a través de su Tarjeta Descuento (que garantiza en cada compra un ahorro de entre el 10 y el 25%) y procurando una economía de escala con la rápida expansión de sus tiendas.

Report ranks Natural Grocers as Yelp favorite.

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A new analysis of customer reviews posted on the Yelp site indicates Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage, Lakewood, Colo., draws the highest customer satisfaction scores from a group of selected publicly traded food retailers.

The analysis, published in a research note Friday by Bill Kirk of RBC Capital Markets, manually aggregated more than 130,000 Yelp customer reviews on more than 2,050 grocery stores. On Yelp’s five-star rating system, Natural Grocers averaged 4.14, the highest overall score among a group of publicly traded peers, followed by Sprouts Farmers Market (3.87), Whole Foods (3.71), The Fresh Market (3.70), Smart & Final (3.57), Kroger (3.37) and Supervalu’s Save-A-Lot (3.17). A “weighted average” removing the effect of rarely-reviewed stores resulted in the same sequential ranking, Kirk noted.

Natural Grocers’ scores compared favorably to privately held Trader Joe’s (4.24 average score) and Publix (4.10); and outscored Trader Joe’s in its core Colorado markets 4.09 to 4.08.

 “We believe that investors who would love the opportunity to invest in privately held Trader Joe’s are ignoring a similar opportunity at Natural Grocers,” Kirk said.

Sprouts, the second-highest rated retailer in RBC’s coverage by Yelp scores, was also outperforming its peers among its newer stores – an indication supporting the company’s ongoing geographical expansion.
“Other regional strong retailers have struggled when expanding outside their core markets,” Kirk wrote. Although Sprouts tended to draw slightly lower review scores in newer markets of Kansas, Missouri, Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee (3.78) than established markets of Arizona and California (3.88), “we believe the small difference is encouraging. Using The Fresh Market (core in Southeast and new market of Texas) as a proxy, we find a sharper difference between reviews in new markets and reviews in core markets. The Fresh Market has an average review of 3.78 in the Southeast, but just 3.55 in Texas and 3.53 outside the Southeast.”

Whole Foods sets restaurant partnership.

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Whole Foods Market has set a partnership and investment deal with restaurant operator Mendocino Farms that will lead to the opening of restaurant outlets within some of the retailer’s units.

The information was disclosed by Mendocino Farms in an exclusive interview with Nation’s Restaurant News, a sister publication to SN at parent media company Penton.

Mario Del Pero, co-founder of the Los Angeles-based restaurant operator, told NRN about a minority investment by Whole Foods, the first restaurant partnership for the natural and organic grocery chain in recent history. A formal company statement about the arrangement is expected shortly.

Del Pero did not disclose terms of the investment, but said the partnership will help the 11-unit sandwich chain build infrastructure as it expands into the San Diego and San Francisco Bay area markets in late 2016. As part of the deal, Whole Foods plans to test the opening of Mendocino Farms outlets in select market locations.

Though specific locations have not been set, the test likely will include locations of the new more value-positioned secondary brand “365 by Whole Foods Markets,” which are scheduled for launch in the second half of 2016, mostly on the West Coast. Five leases have been signed for the 365-concept market locations, with the first scheduled to open in Los Angeles’ Silver Lake neighborhood, and the grocery chain expects to double the number of 365 units in 2017.

More restaurant concepts may be coming to Whole Foods. In the grocery chain’s July earnings call with Wall Street analysts, officials said the new 365 concept will have “Friends of 365,” vendors that will rent out part of the space to give more local flavor and lower capital investment and labor costs.

David Lannon, EVP of operations at Whole Foods, said in a statement, “Mendocino Farms is one of the best sandwich and salad concepts coming out of Southern California and we believe it’s one of the top emerging restaurant brands in the country. We are always looking at trends in the food industry, especially those that complement our existing offerings. Aside from offering delicious, high-quality products we think our customers will love, Mendocino Farms’ core values align well with our own, and that’s very important to us.”

Founded in Austin, Texas, in 1978, Whole Foods has 431 stores in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. In fiscal 2014, the chain recorded about $14.2 billion in sales and about 100 store locations are in development.

Mendocino Farms is scheduled to open its 12th restaurant in Santa Monica, Calif., in November, and another restaurant is scheduled to open in Brea, Calif., in early 2016.

Del Pero said the first Mendocino Farms in a Whole Foods will likely be in Orange County, Calif., or the Los Angeles area, but the test may also include Northern California.

“We’re planning to test a couple and assess from both the Whole Foods and our standpoint,” said Del Pero. “We want it to be mutually beneficial.”

The Mendocino Farms units in Whole Foods will be wholly operated by the sandwich chain, he said.

“Whole Foods will be a defacto landlord,” said Del Pero. “We’ll have the full Mendo menu and kitchen, and it will be fully staffed by Mendo team members.”

The partnership makes sense because Whole Foods and Mendocino Farms share a customer base, he added.

“We think we can be a great anchor for their food halls,” said Del Pero. “We think it will bring that consumer to Whole Foods more often.”

At Whole Foods, the Mendocino Farms units will also be able to keep the sandwich brand’s unique emphasis on design, with a standalone feel and brand identity. Del Pero said the test locations will be developed by design firm D.L. English, which is also designing the Brea unit to open next year and has worked with Whole Foods in the past.

For Mendocino Farms, Del Pero said he hopes the partnership will also give the sandwich chain help in building access to local suppliers in the organic and natural food world as the chain moves outside California.

“So much of this is about needing to learn about how to scale sustainability,” said Del Pero. “Whole Foods can help mentor us in that area. It’s pretty incredible to have them share with us how to do it the right way.”

Founded in 2005, Mendocino Farms falls into the premium fast-casual niche, with chef-driven sandwiches and salads made with sustainable ingredients, including produce from Oxnard, Calif.-based Scarborough Farms; free-range chicken from California suppliers and meats that are humanely raised without hormones or antibiotics.

Walk like a man, eat like a chimp… Chimpfood products in Whole Foods

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First there was juice, then there were smoothies, now there is, er, Chimp Food, the brainchild of Florida-based entrepreneur Scott Joseph, who lost 100lbs after eating like a chimp (he ditched meat, dairy & grains and ate nothing but fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds) and wants to bottle his success.

Launched three months ago, his 290-calorie 16oz high-pressure-processed Chimp Food bottles – which retail at around $5.99 and contain a blend of 25 different berries, fruits (including the seeds, peel and stems), vegetables (including the skin), nuts and seeds – are now available in around 40 outlets in the Florida area.

Chimp Food bars- which retail at $2.95 and contain only nuts and dates (380-cal nut bars), and seeds and raisins (310-cal seed bars) – are also available in most locations that stock the drinks.

Chimp Food is not juice: I tried juicing when I was trying to lose weight and I gained weight

The plan has always been to start small, understand the customer base, iron out any formulation and packaging issues, and then build slowly, Joseph tells FoodNavigator-USA.

At the moment we’re still making the Chimp Food bottles ourselves [the bars are made in Chicago by a co-packer] and then sending them to Hyperbaric to go through the HPP process [which gives them a shelf-life of 45 days, but means they don’t have to add preservatives or lose nutrients, flavor or color], so if Whole Foods came along and said we want them in hundreds of stores tomorrow, I wouldn’t sleep for weeks.

“But I would love to get into Whole Foods. That would be the real test of our product. But I’d like to start with one store, then three, then 10 stores, and so on to see how things go.”

But just three-four months after launch things are already ramping up nicely, says Joseph, who started off by knocking on individual retailers’ doors, but is now talking to distributors (KeHE and UNFI) and brokers (Presence Marketing) about getting his products stocked in a wider range of outlets.

He’s also considering Amazon as he thinks the low shipping rates could help him reach a wider audience.

As for the target consumer, it includes everyone from Moms looking for something healthier for their kids, to bodybuilders, fitness enthusiasts, dieters and people looking to replace one meal a day with something filling and wholesome, he says.

And while the price tag is high, when you consider that each bottle is a meal, it’s a different proposition, he claims, noting that consumers have already proved willing to shell out up to $9 for a bottle of high-end juice.

We’ve been doing sampling three days a week, and it really works, as when people try it, they love it.”

13g of fiber, 6g protein: Peel, seeds, stems included…

The key is positioning the products correctly, says Joseph, who originally had the strapline, ‘Eat like you should, eat like a chimp’, but has switched to ‘It’s raw whole food that you drink’ and ‘Your super-healthy meal of the day’ to highlight the fact that his products can work as meal replacements, and that they are really foods, not drinks.

“They are not juices,” adds Joseph, who contends that drinking a juice-only diet is a fast-track route to diabetes rather than improved health.

“I tried juicing when I was trying to lose weight and I actually gained weight, and it spikes your blood sugar. When you eat Chimp Food [each bottle has 13g of fiber and 6g protein], because we’ve got all that fiber, the peel, the nuts and seeds, it won’t spike your blood sugar.”

I realized that none of them were selling anything as healthy as what I was making for myself

Chimp Food is not about ‘cleansing’ either, stresses Joseph, who is in his early 50s and says changing his diet transformed his life to such an extent he was convinced his strategy could work for other people. 

“I tried cleansing and you just get into this yo-yo pattern, cleanse, and then eat pizza, cleanse, then hamburgers.”

Chimp Food also has a different profile to meal replacements such as Boost, Ensure and SlimFast, he says. “They have an ingredients list half a mile long.”

He adds: “If you look at animals, they don’t have all these diet-related problems that humans have. Look at chimps as our closest living relatives; they just eat fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, and they get all the nutrition they need, so I started doing the same and the results were incredible.

“I was walking around Whole Foods and all these other stores and I realized that none of them were selling anything as healthy as what I was making for myself.”

Click HERE for details.

Why supermarkets are only fair in health and wellness

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It’s hard to get better sales numbers than what supermarkets are seeing in health and wellness. SN’s Whole Health industry survey back in March produced eye-popping results. Some 80% of industry respondents said these categories have grown in sales over the past 12 months, and a third said by 20% or more.

Consumers of all generations, particularly Millennials, are embracing natural, organic and better-for-you items. Mainstream retailers, aka supermarkets, are benefiting. That’s the way it should be because supermarkets have worked hard and deserve the payoff. Right?

Maybe, but that industry survey was only half the story. SN just published the other side, a consumer survey that will humble retail executives.

The consumer data comes from SN’s partnership with Supermarket Guru Phil Lempert, and you can see an analysis by Jon Springer here.

Some 52% of consumers called their supermarket only fair in selection of natural and organic and better-for-you items, and fair was defined as “I usually (versus almost always) can find the brands and items that I want.” That compares with 38.6% saying “good” and 8.9% “poor.”

That sentiment carried over into prices. Asked to characterize prices for natural/organic and better-for-you items at their local supermarket, the biggest percentage, 56%, said “fair,” meaning “about average versus other stores.” Some 25% said “good” or “good value,” while 19% said “poor.”

Many consumers rate their supermarkets as only "fair" in health and wellness.

Many consumers rate their supermarkets as only “fair” in health and wellness.

The broadest question asked was “How does your supermarket rate in servicing a desire to eat healthier?” About 52% said “fair,” meaning “staff often provides service and knowledge, but not always.” Roughly 31% said “good,” while 16% said “poor.”The upshot is consumers feel supermarkets are performing fair. Stores are meeting basic needs, but could do better.

So how can that be with all the focus on enhancing these categories? One factor is that price really mattered to respondents. Consumers said price was the leading factor influencing where to shop for food overall and natural and organic groceries in particular. In only one segment, produce, did price take a back seat to quality in importance.

To really understand why supermarkets are rated only fair, it’s important not just to view the survey numbers, but to read the emphatic consumer comments. Here’s a sampling of what shoppers want from supermarkets, directly from the respondents:

Lower Prices: “Stop raking us over the coals to eat healthier.”

Better Selection: “Offer more of the foods that places like Whole Foods offer.”

Better Service: “Employ people who have a genuine interest.”

Layout: “Move health to front instead of hiding it at the back.”

Health Commitment: “Stop forcing all the naughty stuff in our face.”

You have to admit there’s a lot of frustration in those remarks.  Consumers appear to be saying they’re willing to shop for health and wellness products at mainstream retail, as long as stores raise their games. If that doesn’t happen, at some point they may switch to other outlets that do better.

So even as supermarkets celebrate sales growth, their executives need to closely monitor shopper feedback and adapt. Criticism is humbling, but far better to get the truth now while there’s time to act.

Spain; Supersano abre dos tiendas en Madrid.

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La cadena alicantina de supermercados ecológicos ‘SuperSano’ se encuentra en pleno proceso de expansión y crecimiento. Durante los próximos meses de septiembre y noviembre pondrá en marcha nuevos establecimientos en Madrid, capital en la que desambarcó el pasado mes de enero con la apertura de su primera tienda en la c/Hermosilla, 86.

La buena acogida que ha recibido su concepto de supermercado ecológico, ha servido a la cadena de aliciente para seguir apostando por su desarrollo en la zona centro. En concreto, el próximo día 4 de septiembre estrenará tienda en el Paseo Santa María de la Cabeza, 43, junto a la entrada del mercado municipal del mismo nombre. A este establecimiento, le seguirá en noviembre la inauguración de su tercer punto de venta en un emplazamiento igualmente céntrico. Con estas dos aperturas ‘Supersano’ elevará su red de tiendas a un total de 10, estando ya presente en las provincias de Alicante y las localidades de Elche y Altea; Valencia, Murcia, Albacete, Zaragoza y Madrid. En estas dos últimas, desde 2015.

La hoja de ruta marcada por la compañía prevé la inauguración de entre cuatro y cinco nuevos supermercados por año con lo que pretende no solo afianzar su marca, sino, extenderla a otras principales capitales españolas, como Bilbao, Navarra o Barcelona, a una de las cuales llegará antes de que finalice 2015. En Barcelona entraría a competir con el arraigo de la cadena líder en alimentación ecológica, ‘Veritas’, que cuenta con 28 establecimientos en la Ciudad Condal, 32 en total, estando presente también en Girona, Vitoria, Baleares y Principado de Andorra. En conjunto, ‘Supersano’ prevé establecer una cadena nacional de supermercados ecológicos que contará con más de una decena de establecimientos a lo largo del presente ejercicio.

Este plan de desarrollo responde al creciente interés entre la población española por este tipo de productos, cuya demanda no ha dejado de aumentar ni siquiera en los peores años de la crisis económica e incluso se ha intensificado en los últimos meses.Prueba de ello es que, a superficie constante, las ventas de productos ecológicos se han incrementado un 23% en el primer semestre de este año respecto al pasado y que los ocho supermercados con los que cuenta ahora mismo la cadena están reportando beneficios. De hecho, las ventas de la compañía crecieron hasta alcanzar los 1,90 M€ en 2014, frente a los 1,10 M€ obtenidos durante la campaña precedente.

Los establecimientos de ‘SuperSano’, cuya sala de venta media oscila entre los 120 y 200 m2, cuentan con las secciones habituales de cualquier supermercado convencional: frutas y verduras, panadería, carnes, lácteos, snacks, bebidas y limpieza. Dispone también de herboristería y cosmética natural y una zona específica para celíacos con toda clase de productos sin gluten, así como otros alimentos especiales para personas con otros tipos de intolerancia alimentaria.

En total cuenta con más de 3.000 referencias distintas, nacionales y de importación, de los productos denominados ecológicos, bio y orgánicos, todos sellados y certificados por los organismos oficiales correspondientes de las regiones y países donde son producidos o envasados

La estrategia comercial de SuperSano se centra en su Tarjeta Descuento -que garantiza un ahorro de entre el 10 y el 25%- así como en una rápida expansión de sus tiendas con el fin de que en el futuro se iguale el precio de los productos ecológicos al de productos convencionales. En cuanto a su modelo, responde a la creciente preocupación de los consumidores por la salud, la seguridad alimentaria y el respeto y cuidado por el medio ambiente en la producción de los alimentos.

Wall Street concerned with The Fresh Market results.

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Wall Street analysts expressed concerns with The Fresh Market a day after the chain reported flat earnings per share and negative comparable-store sales.

“Results were even more disappointing than we thought and suggest the company is not moving fast enough to address the challenges of a fast-changing food retail landscape,” Kelly Bania, an analyst with BMO Capital Markets, New York, said.

“The weak results were likely exacerbated by temporary factors — including produce deflation and double-digit meat inflation — yet we believe TFM is in an identity crisis as it struggles to maintain its industry-leading EBITDA margins while resisting the temptation to more aggressively compete on price but maintain its premium quality and in-store experience.”

Those goals, she added, are complicated by the lack of a permanent CEO and, as of Thursday, the departure of Marc Jones as SVP and chief merchandising and supply chain officer.

“Near-term initiatives — encompassing productivity, brand awareness, advertising, testing and changing promotional and pricing strategies — do not appear to be enough to stabilize comps, [which] leaves a high degree of uncertainty for earnings.”

Karen Short, an analyst with Deutsche Bank, New York, said she believes Greensboro, N.C.-based TFM “needs to invest in price to drive traffic and comps and should cut its unit growth until it can stabilize the core business.”

In discussing financial results with analysts Thursday, Sean Crane, interim president and CEO, said The Fresh Market plans to review its pipeline of expansion targets with a greater focus on returns.

“While the success of our most recent store openings gives us confidence there are significant opportunities for unit growth, we also believe it is prudent to continue to review our current pipeline,” he explained. “In light of current sales and margin performance, we are reviewing the assumptions with a focus on managing return-on-invested-capital for our company and shareholders.”

Addressing the flat earnings and negative comps, Crane said they reflected “changes in our pricing and promotional investments that were less effective than anticipated in a more challenging macro environment, which were partially offset by successful marketing activities as well as the benefit of our expense controls.”

Jeffrey C. Ackerman, EVP and CFO, said the company’s promotional goal in the second quarter was to improve traffic flow by replacing one-day events with multi-day events, “which we thought would result in better in-store execution and thereby better sales. But looking back, we realize that as we chose the promotions, it required us to take a different approach in terms of the items, and we believe that had an effect on the traffic that came in.

“As we move forward, we’re going to continue to make sure we’re providing a great experience for customers, with great execution, but that we’re also balancing the traffic-driving capabilities of the promotions so we have the right promotions at the right price.”

CMO’s departure

Crane announced the departure of the CMO, noting a search is underway “for an individual who will help us accelerate the improvement of our pricing, selection and merchandise offering.”

Until a successor is named, Crane said he will be more hands-on, working with the merchandising team “to bring up some fresh ideas and help with merchandising, pricing, selection and that kind of thing.”

On the supply chain side, Crane said Maria Ross has been hired as VP, supply chain, following three years as VP, supply chain strategy, at BJ’s Wholesale Club and previous stints at Home Depot and Oldcastle.

Crane, The Fresh Market’s VP and COO, was named interim CEO earlier this year. He said the TFM board “continues to interview candidates for the CEO position.”

He said TFM expects negative comps to continue through the second half because of more difficult comparisons with last year and continued deflationary pressures.

Crane listed several initiatives the company has implemented to improve financial results, including a multi-media brand-positioning; refinement of targeted marketing promotions to develop more personalized programs; increased use of social media; an improved customer service program; and efforts to develop more productive backrooms to create better in-stock positions.

Ackerman said the company is also implementing new recruiting tools to help better assess “people that have a propensity to serve”: testing new incentives to align staff with service; eliminating non-value-added tasks to better serve customers; and, at a couple of stores, testing incremental labor-hour investments.

Regarding pricing, Ackerman said The Fresh Market intends to be competitive on like-for-like items and charge a price commensurate with value on differentiated products.

Asked if customers recognize the company’s pricing strategy, Crane said they do if they shop the stores on a regular basis.

“We invested pretty heavily this quarter in produce prices, but we saw a sequential deflation in produce of 600 basis points. So customers need to shop the store a few times to really start to feel the improved pricing. There’s also a little bit of a headwind [because] our research indicates that even if we are equally priced, there is a price perception issue because of the premium attributes of the [store] experience.

“So we have to keep finding ways not only to invest in price but also to communicate it better. Once we find that balance, we can start to make those investments.”

España; arranca con éxito la cadena “Gran Bio Supermercados”

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Gran Bio Supermercados Ecológicos, que comenzó su andadura hace casi un mes, ha tenido unos primeros pasos muy exitosos con una gran aceptación por parte de los consumidores murcianos, que están muy identificados con la vida saludable que proporciona los alimentos ecológicos. Según ha explicado el Gerente de Gran Bio Supermercados Ecológicos, Juan Antonio Martínez Rubio, “estamos muy satisfechos desde nuestra apertura por la gran receptividad de los consumidores que están muy identificados con la vida saludable y con la alimentación ecológica. Esto es muy positivo y beneficioso para la sociedad”.

     Además, el responsable de Gran Bio ha subrayado también que “nuestro supermercado tiene una amplia gama de referencias alimenticias, y esto es muy valorado por los consumidores, que son conscientes de que pueden encontrar todo tipo de artículos tanto alimenticios como bebidas, cosméticos, alimentación infantil, carnicería, etcétera”.

    El supermercado tiene una superficie de 250 metros cuadrados, se han invertido 500.000 euros en su puesta en funcionamiento y cuenta con una plantilla de 12 personas.

    Está abierto de 9:00 de la mañana a 21:30 en horario ininterrumpido de lunes a sábado. Tiene una relación calidad – precio que se adapta perfectamente a la economía de los consumidores de la Región de Murcia.

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