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July 10, 2018

It's 7-Eleven Day!

 Every year, 7-Eleven stores throw a BIG party to celebrate its birthday on – what else?! – 7-Eleven Day, better known as July 11 (7/11) on the calendar. Instead of cake and candles, the world's largest convenience retailer celebrates with FREE Slurpee drinks, inviting millions to the party. The company introduced convenience retailing 91 years ago and is now the largest convenience chain in the world.
 The Slurpee celebration followed by "seven deals in seven days" also give hungry Slurpee drink fans an opportunity to try some of the newest 7-Eleven fresh food menu items from artisan sandwiches to decadent brownies.
 Participating U.S. stores will give away an estimated 9 million free small Slurpee drinks from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. local time, Wednesday, July 11 (7/11), while supplies last. The featured Slurpee flavor is Cap'n Crunch's Crunch Berries, recreated as a delicious frozen treat from one of America's most beloved cereal brands.
 "Free Slurpee day may be the most anticipated day of the year for millions of 7-Eleven customers and new customers alike," said Raj Kapoor, 7-Eleven Senior Vice President for Fresh Food and Proprietary Beverages. "7-Eleven Day is a celebration, not only of our birthday, but more importantly, of our customers. I encourage everyone to look around the store, grab an old favorite like a Big Bite hot dog to enjoy with their free Slurpee drink or maybe try something they haven't. We have lots of delicious new choices in stores."
 7-Eleven is celebrating its birthday – and the "dog days" of summer – with $1 Big Bite hot dogs on its July 11 birthday, and a week later on National Hot Dog Day, July 18. The featured Big Bite flavor is The Reaper, a seriously spicy 7-Eleven exclusive hot dog made with 100 percent beef and topped with Carolina Reaper seasoning blend. Customers can dress their dogs for free at participating stores with chili, cheese, pickles, onions, jalapenos, relish, pico de gallo and more at the condiment bars near the grill.
 For 7Rewards members, great deals continue the entire birthday week, with a new one each day:
July 12: FREE 7-Select Pure water with purchase of a BODYARMOR sports drink
July 13: FREE Big Gulp fountain drink with purchase of a share-size Snickers candy bar
July 14: FREE 7-Select popcorn with purchase of a 20-ounce Smartwater
July 15: FREE single-size Reese's candy with purchase of a share-size bag of 7-Select Gummies
July 16: FREE 20-ounce Coca-Cola with purchase of any flavor Cheez-It baked snack crackers
July 17: FREE single-serve bag of 7-Select chips with purchase of any fresh sandwich
July 18: FREE single-serve 7-Select tortilla chips with purchase of any 7-Select nuts
 For hungry customers wanting to try something new, 7-Eleven has introduced 7-Eleven Bistro sandwiches.
 The new 7-Eleven Bistro sandwiches, made with premium quality ingredients on fresh-baked bread, are available nationwide at participating stores. The Trio contains black forest ham, smoked turkey, roast beef, provolone cheese, lettuce and tomato with spicy mustard and mayo on an onion roll. Purchase of a 7-Eleven Bistro sandwich with single-serve bag of 7-Select chips earns 400 7Rewards points. Participating locations will also offer one or more regional premium options. Each sandwich contains at least 4 ounces of meat and is hand-wrapped.
 But, wait! There's s'more! New in the fresh bakery case is everyone's favorite campfire treat in brownie form. The S'mores brownie is a classic fudge brownie baked over a layer of graham crackers and topped with toasted mini marshmallows. Suggested retail price for the limited-time item is $1.99, and each purchase through the summer earns 200 7Rewards bonus points through the 7-Eleven app.
 7-Eleven, the first convenience store, began its run in 1927 when a Southland Ice Company employee began selling bread, milk and eggs on an ice dock in a Dallas suburb. Since that inauspicious start, "convenience" has become a big business. The small ice company has grown into a major international retailing chain with almost 12,000 7-Eleven stores in North America and more than 66,000 stores worldwide.
 Every year, July 11 marks the day that the world's No. 1 convenience retailer observes its birthday and other company milestones. 7-Eleven introduced its iconic frozen carbonated beverage in 1966, and it was an immediate hit. The next year, the company's advertising director coined the word "Slurpee" to describe the sound the drink made traveling through the straw. And a star was born. The retailer started the free Slurpee drink birthday tradition in 2002.
 Wacky flavor names and quirky radio spots created a drink craze among teens and young adults, the same demographic group that today makes up the drink's biggest fans. Slurpee drinks enjoy worldwide popularity, with more than 7.5 billion Slurpee drinks sold during its colorful history, enough for everyone on earth to enjoy one.
 The 7-Eleven mobile app is available via the App Store or Google Play. After downloading, customers can register to become a 7Rewards members and earn free drinks and points on every purchase.



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June 28, 2018

Nathan’s Famous Launches New All Natural Hot Dog for 4th of July







 Nathan’s Famous is giving cooks nationwide another reason to break out the grill this summer. Just in time for the Fourth of July, the makers of America’s favorite hot dog are excited to introduce a new All Natural 100 percent beef hot dog.
 The new franks have the same great quality as the original Nathan’s Famous premium hot dogs and are minimally processed, uncured, and are free of nitrates and nitrites. The hot dogs will be available year-round at MSRP $4.79 per 6-pack. Consumers can grab the Nathan’s Famous All Natural hot dogs at most mass grocery retailers nationwide to start the sizzle this summer.



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June 13, 2018

Supervalu Announces Proposed Holding Company Structure to Advance Transformation Stragedy

 Supervalu Inc. announced a proposal to reorganize the Company’s corporate structure to further facilitate the Company’s strategic transformation, among other benefits to stockholders. This proposal, as outlined in Supervalu’s preliminary proxy statement/prospectus filed recently, would result in a reorganization of the Company’s corporate structure into a holding company structure. The holding company structure is being proposed to:
• Organize and further segregate Supervalu’s wholesale and retail operations in an operationally efficient and strategic manner, including to separate the wholesale and retail operations held by Supervalu Inc., our current public company entity;
• Facilitate the Company’s previously announced strategic transformation plan to sell certain retail assets to third parties;
• Better segregate the liabilities of the Company into their respective business segments; Increase Supervalu’s strategic, business and financial flexibility; and
• Enable the Company to achieve its strategic transformation plan in a tax efficient manner that may facilitate the ability to utilize a material portion of Supervalu’s capital loss carry forward, which could generate approximately $300 million of cash tax benefits for the Company over the next approximately 15 years.
 “We have been executing a strategic transformation of our business over the last two years to become the wholesale supplier of choice for grocery retailers across the United States, while also executing initiatives to deliver long-term stockholder value,” said Mark Gross, Supervalu’s President and CEO. “The proposed holding company structure is another significant and important undertaking by our team that would support and advance our transformation by further separating our wholesale and retail operations in a tax efficient manner.”
 Supervalu stockholders are being asked to consider and vote upon the Holding Company Proposal at the Company’s 2018 Annual Meeting of Stockholders. The Holding Company Proposal and realizing the desired benefits from the reorganization are subject to certain conditions and future events, including approval by our stockholders.



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June 13, 2018

Kroger Plans to Exit Raleigh-Durham Market

 Kroger Mid-Atlantic will exit the Raleigh-Durham market on or about August 14, closing its 14 stores.
 “After a thorough evaluation of the market for a significant time period, we have decided to close our stores in the highly competitive Raleigh-Durham market,” said Jerry Clontz, President of the Mid-Atlantic Division of Kroger. “While we have had some success, we have not been able to grow our business the way we would like in this market.
 “The retail environment is challenging and changing in Raleigh-Durham,” added Clontz. “Many retail analysts say the Raleigh-Durham market is overstored.”
 The closings will impact approximately 1,500 associates, more than half of which are part-time. “We’ve been a part of the Raleigh-Durham market since 1989, and our associates have provided customers with top-notch service,” said Clontz. “Helping them through this transition is our number one priority.
 “We’re making every effort to assist our associates in finding employment,” said Clontz. “We will offer job fairs and job placement services to associates. Our associates also have access to our employee assistance programs to help them manage through this process.”
 Kroger is selling all 14 stores which are expected to close on August 14. The Company is currently under contract with Food Lion for one store, Crunch Fitness for one store and Harris Teeter for eight stores. “We are continuing discussions and exploring potential options for the remaining stores,” said Clontz.
 Locations of the eight stores that Harris Teeter has agreed to acquire are: 202 W. NC Hwy 54, Durham; 3457 Hillsborough Rd., Durham; 5116 N. Roxboro Rd., Durham; 1273 N.W. Maynard Rd., Cary; 8345 Creedmoor Rd., Raleigh; 940 US Hwy 64, Apex; 1802 North Point Dr., Durham and 1371 E. Broad St., Fuquay-Varina.  Crunch Fitness will acquire the store at 6300 Creedmoor Rd., Ste. 150, Raleigh. Food Lion will acquire the store at 7905 Falls of Neuse Road, Raleigh. The transactions described remain subject to customary closing conditions.
 Kroger Mid-Atlantic worked with The Food Partners, a Washington, D.C.-based, grocery industry focused investment banking firm, as a strategic adviser for the divestiture of these stores.
 Kroger Mid-Atlantic operates 108 additional stores in Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky and Ohio.



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June 11, 2018
■ Survey Finds -

84% of People Care More about Mother's Day than Father's Day

 Man Crates, the ultimate men's gifting company, is helping families everywhere create memories with the special guys in their lives this Father's Day. Following a shocking survey which found that 40 percent of people are more likely to shop for Mother's Day than Father's Day, and the National Retail Federation reported that consumers spent nearly $8.1 billion more on Mother's Day than Father's Day in 2017.
 Not only are dads less likely to receive a gift, but the survey also found:
• Sixty-five percent of respondents admitted to purchasing boring gifts like ties, belts, etc.
• Eighty-four percent of people in the U.S. care more about Mother's Day and Father's Day.
• People are almost twice as likely to spend money for Mother's Day as compared to Father's Day.
• Eighty-three percent of people are more likely to create a special event for Mother's Day than Father's Day.
 "This Father's Day we want to save dads from being forgotten altogether, or worse, getting another pair of socks" says Jon Beekman, Man Crates Founder and CEO. "Over the past few years, people have shifted toward giving their loved ones experiences rather than just physical gifts. We're big on making memories that last a lifetime, so we design every Man Crates gift to be an interactive experience that the giver and recipient can share together. When he pries open a Man Crate with a crowbar, he'll get a bunch of cool products just for him, but more importantly, everyone will have an exciting, unique experience they'll treasure for years to come.
 While over 80 percent of people are more likely to create a special event for Mother's Day than Father's Day, customers have a chance to give dad something he'll actually love this year. Just in time for Father's Day, Man Crates is releasing an array of new product offerings that are designed to create memories.
 Man Crates is building upon the already extensive product categories, including: personalized gifts, eating and drinking, cooking and grilling and project kits, and new categories for the literary minded and wine enthusiasts. Top new gifts for Father's Day include:
• Storied Crates feature the perfect pairing of book and drink, to be savored and enjoyed together. Inspired by classic novels, each crate features all you need to craft your perfect cocktail.
• Wine explorations gifts with options for the guy who sniffs and spits, who thinks outside the bottle or who pairs food, wine and friends.
• Guys who grill will love the new steak-centric gifts, while new food and drink crates will thrill those with an adventurous palette, including the Breakfast Rations Ammo Can, Alaskan Fish and Chips Crate and Smokin' Old Fashion Crate.
• DIY Dads will enjoy the extended line of project kits, including Scrimshaw Knife Kit, Lure Making Kit, Sausage Making Kit and Winemaking Kit.



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May 16, 2018

April Retail Sales Increased 2.8% Over Last Year

 April retail sales increased 0.4 percent seasonally adjusted over March and 2.8 percent year-over-year as consumers continued to spend, the National Retail Federation reports. The numbers exclude automobiles, gasoline stations and restaurants.
 “Retail sales growth remains solid and on track as households benefit from tax cuts even though they have faced unseasonable weather and bumpy financial markets,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “The tax cuts and higher savings levels should help consumers afford the recent surge in gasoline prices. And a solid job market, recent wage gains and elevated confidence translate into ongoing spending support.”
 The three-month moving average was up 4.1 percent over the same period a year ago, which is in line with NRF’s forecast that 2018 retail sales will grow between 3.8 percent and 4.4 percent over 2017.
 The April results build on improvement seen in March, which was up 0.3 percent monthly and 5.2 percent year over year.
 NRF’s numbers are based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, which said overall April sales – including automobiles, gasoline and restaurants – were up 0.3 percent seasonally adjusted from March and up 4.7 percent year-over-year.
Specifics from key retail sectors during April include:
• Online and other non-store sales were up 12.2 percent year-over-year and up 0.6 percent over March seasonally adjusted.
ֳ• Furniture and home furnishings stores were up 5.8 percent year-over-year and up 0.8 percent from March seasonally adjusted.
• Building materials and garden supply stores were up 5.6 percent year-over-year and up 0.4 percent from March seasonally adjusted.
• Electronics and appliance stores were up 2.2 percent year-over-year but down 0.1 percent from March seasonally adjusted.
• Health and personal care stores were up 0.2 percent year-over-year but down 0.4 percent from March seasonally adjusted.
• Grocery and beverage stores were down 0.1 percent year-over-year but up 0.4 percent from March.
• Clothing and clothing accessory stores were down 0.4 percent year-over-year but up 1.4 percent from March seasonally adjusted.
• General merchandise stores were down 0.8 percent year-over-year but up 0.3 percent from March seasonally adjusted.
• Sporting goods stores were down 3.8 percent year-over-year and down 0.1 percent from March seasonally adjusted.



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April 10, 2018

Kroger Family of Stores Hiring 11,000 Employees

Company Has Created Nearly 100,000 American Jobs Since 2007

 The Kroger Co. recently announced that its family of stores is hiring to fill an estimated 11,000 positions in its supermarket divisions, including nearly 2,000 management positions.
 Interested candidates are encouraged to apply at jobs.kroger.com.
 The Kroger family of stores created 10,000 new jobs in 2017 and 12,000 in 2016. These figures do not include jobs created as a result of capital investment, such as temporary construction jobs, nor do they include increases due to the company's mergers. Kroger and its subsidiaries today employ nearly half a million associates.
 "Over the last decade, Kroger has added 100,000 new jobs in communities across America," said Tim Massa, Kroger's Group Vice President of Human Resources and labor relations. "In addition to fueling the U.S. economy, many of our supermarket jobs are an opportunity for associates to grow and advance their careers."
 In addition to job creation, Kroger is investing an incremental $500 million in associate wages, training and development over the next three years, as part of Restock Kroger. Last month in Cincinnati, for example, Kroger associates ratified a labor agreement with the UFCW 75 that set the stage for starting wage and overall wage increases in multiple markets across the country. The agreement raised starting wages to at least $10 per hour, and accelerated wage progressions to $11 an hour after one year of service, for associates in the Cincinnati/Dayton division.
 Kroger has also committed to invest a significant portion of the tax benefit it received from the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in associates' future, which the company plans to announce in detail this month.
 "Kroger is a place where you can come for a job and stay for a career," Mr. Massa added. "We are committed to creating great entry-level jobs and investing in our associates so they can reach their full potential."



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April 2, 2018

My/Mo Mochi Ice Cream Launches Ice Cream Pints and Vegan Frozen Dessert

 My/Mo Mochi Ice Cream has announced the launch of two new lines, My/Mo Ice Cream with Mochi Bits and My/Mo Cashew Cream Frozen Dessert.
MY/MO ICE CREAM WITH MOCHI BITS (SRP $5.99) - Mochi lovers rejoice: there’s a new way to enjoy your favorite combination of sweet mochi dough and rich ice cream. An extension of the brand’s commitment to offering creative and colorful snacking options, My/Mo Ice Cream with Mochi Bits brings innovation to the ice cream pint category and provides consumers with a new opportunity to snack on ice cream. Each carefully crafted pint contains a miraculous match of mouthwatering ice cream surrounding pillowy pieces of sweet rice mochi. The new pint-size treats are available in five flavor varieties: Strawberry, Mango, Green Tea, Chocolate and Salted Caramel.
MY/MO CASHEW CREAM FROZEN DESSERT (SRP $6.99) - My/Mo Mochi Ice Cream’s new vegan frozen dessert answers consumers’ demands for a dairy-free alternative to their colorful, pop-able and portable snacks. My/Mo Mochi Cashew Cream Frozen Dessert is a carefully crafted vegan treat made with a scoop of premium dairy-free cashew cream, wrapped in delectably soft rice dough. The new 6-pack boxes are available in four flavor varieties and each ball is only 100 calories each! The four new additions will hit retail shelves soon, with flavors including: Strawberry, Vanilla, Chocolate and Salted Caramel.



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March 16, 2018

Southeastern Grocers Initiates Financial Restructuring

• 582 stores to continue operating in the ordinary course; 94 stores will close.
• All general unsecured claims, including supplier partners and trade creditors, to be paid in full in ordinary course.


 Southeastern Grocers has entered into a Restructuring Support Agreement with a group of creditors collectively holding 80% of its 8.625%/9.375% Senior PIK Toggle Notes due September 2018 and its private equity sponsor regarding the terms of a comprehensive financial restructuring that will position the company for long-term financial health. SEG will continue operating throughout this process, and the company's associates remain focused on exceeding the needs of customers and consistently delivering great service, quality and value in SEG's stores.
 Anthony Hucker, President and Chief Executive Officer of SEG, said, "The agreement is an important step in Southeastern Grocers' transformation to put our company in the best position to succeed in the extremely competitive retail market in which we do business. With a foundation built on iconic, heritage banners, and with the strong support of our leadership team, we will work through this process as quickly and efficiently as possible. We are excited to emerge with the optimal store footprint and greater financial flexibility to invest in Southeastern Grocers' growth."
 Consummating the transactions contemplated under the RSA is expected to significantly strengthen the company's balance sheet. The restructuring will decrease overall debt levels by over $500 million and maintain the company's strong liquidity position under the new post-emergence Revolving Credit Facility. The significant reduction in debt will result in reduced interest expense, allowing the company to invest more cash flow back into the business in the form of increased capital expenditures for store remodels and new stores.
 Hucker continued, "Southeastern Grocers is faced with a critical milestone in its transformation and we have made choices for our future and long-term growth potential. We conducted a thorough review of our strategic options and determined that this financial restructuring is in the best interests of our associates, customers, supplier partners and the communities in which we serve. Southeastern Grocers is a strong, viable business and is building momentum with robust performance and new store concepts that resonate with our associates, customers and communities. This course of action enables us to continue writing the story for our company and our iconic, heritage banners in the Southeast.”
Under the terms of the proposed restructuring:
 • The company's outstanding secured debt obligations, including its Secured Notes and the 2014 Revolving Credit Facility, will be paid in full.
 • The company has secured 100% committed exit financing in the form of a senior secured six-year term loan facility in the original principal amount of $525 million and an asset-based lending (ABL) revolving credit facility.
 • The Unsecured Notes will be cancelled in exchange for 100% of equity in the reorganized company.
 • Holders of general unsecured claims, including supplier partners, contract counterparties, and all other trade creditors will receive payment in full on account of existing obligations in the ordinary course of business.
 • The holder of the company's existing equity will receive a five-year warrant (subject to dilution) and certain global settlement consideration.
 • 582 stores will continue to operate throughout the company's footprint. 94 stores will close, many of which will have their related leases rejected and lease rejection claims rendered unimpaired.
 The company plans to implement the terms of the proposed financial restructuring by soliciting votes from holders of its Unsecured Notes and holders of its existing equity on a pre-packaged plan of reorganization and commencing voluntary cases under chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code with the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware by the end of March.
 With a deleveraged balance sheet and an optimal store base, the company will be able to focus its resources on stores with the greatest potential for growth and improve the financial health of the overall business.
 Hucker remarked, "We expect our financial health and free cash flow to improve in the newly reorganized company, and although the restructuring contemplates certain store closings, SEG is committed to ensuring that all associates continue to be treated with the utmost dignity, respect and compassion. We will continue every day to provide our associates with a great place to work and our customers with a store experience they can count on. On behalf of the Southeastern Grocers leadership team, I want to thank our many talented associates for their dedication and loyalty in serving our customers and community day in and day out."



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March 15, 2018

SUPERVALU Plans to Exit Farm Fresh Banner


Company Agrees to Sell 21 Stores with Plans to Sell More

 Supervalu Inc. has entered into three separate definitive agreements to sell 21 of its 38 Farm Fresh Food & Pharmacy (“Farm Fresh”) stores for approximately $43 million in cash to three different retailers: Harris Teeter, Kroger Mid-Atlantic Division, and Food Lion. Supervalu is also continuing discussions and exploring potential transactions to sell the remaining Farm Fresh stores to current and prospective wholesale customers and certain Farm Fresh employees.
 “Over the past two years, we’ve been working diligently and rapidly to transform our business to become the wholesale supplier of choice for grocery retailers across the United States,” said Mark Gross, Supervalu’s President and CEO. “In 2016, we sold Save-A-Lot and its network of approximately 1,350 retail locations. Last year, we acquired Unified Grocers and Associated Grocers of Florida, which when combined with substantial organic growth, added more than $5 billion in run rate sales to bring our core wholesale business to nearly $13 billion. Exiting the Farm Fresh banner will enable us to allocate greater resources and energy toward the strategic growth of our wholesale business. We also continue to aggressively pursue other important initiatives, including the monetization of real estate through sale leaseback transactions and cost reduction across the company. We are confident our efforts are driving growth and enhancing our competitive position.”
 Gross continued, “This decision was not taken lightly given the impact on our employees and the communities we serve, but we strongly believe this decision is in the best long-term financial and strategic interest of our business. Our leadership team and board of directors remain committed to taking proactive steps to transform our business and drive stockholder value.”
 “We are thankful for the tremendous service our employees have delivered at Farm Fresh through the years, and are grateful for the opportunities we’ve had to share in the lives and special events of our customers and employees across the Hampton Roads, Richmond, Williamsburg, and Elizabeth City communities,” said Anne Dament, Executive Vice President, Retail, Marketing and Private Brands. “We are working with the buyers to ensure a smooth transition and we expect them to offer positions to many Farm Fresh employees. In addition, we plan to offer eligible employees severance and other job transition support.”
 In summary, the agreements provide for:
 • Ten stores being sold to Harris Teeter, including six in-store pharmacies and three fuel centers.
 • Eight stores being sold to Kroger Mid-Atlantic Division, including eight in-store pharmacies and four fuel centers.
 • Three stores being sold to Food Lion, including three in-store pharmacies.
 The transactions, which were unanimously approved by Supervalu’s board of directors, are currently expected to close in May 2018, subject to customary closing conditions. Supervalu is also working with a third party to liquidate the inventory at these Farm Fresh stores.
 With regards to Farm Fresh pharmacies not included in these three sale transactions, Supervalu has entered into agreements to transfer pharmacy prescription files to other pharmacies in the area. Prescription files from ten pharmacies will be transferred to Rite Aid and four to CVS Pharmacy.
 Founded in 1957, Farm Fresh has served Virginia and North Carolina for 60 years, and today employs approximately 3,300 associates.



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March 9, 2018

Retail Jobs Increased by Over 46,000 in February

 Retail industry employment increased by 46,400 jobs in February over January, the National Retail Federation says. The number excludes automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants. Overall, the economy added 313,000 jobs, the Labor Department said.
 “This substantial gain in retail jobs is a significant positive sign regarding the health and viability of the industry,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “It is stronger than expected and there were broad gains across most retail sectors. Beyond retail, labor markets continued to strengthen in all industries in February, and more jobs throughout the economy will mean more consumers shopping in retail stores. With tax reform in effect, consumer confidence increasing and strong underlying economic fundamentals, 2018 is off to a good start and we expect a prosperous year ahead.”
 The February increase was more than four times the gain of 10,800 jobs seen in January over December. The three-month moving average in February showed an increase of 10,600 jobs.
 General merchandise stores were up by 17,700 jobs, fueled mostly by gains at warehouse and supercenter stores, while clothing and accessories stores were up by 14,900 jobs and building materials stores were up by 10,300 jobs. There were declines totaling 5,400 jobs spread across health and personal care, sporting goods and miscellaneous stores.
 Kleinhenz noted that retail job numbers reported by the Labor Department do not provide an accurate picture of the industry because they count only employees who work in stores while excluding retail workers in other parts of the business such as corporate headquarters, distribution centers, call centers and innovation labs.
 Economy-wide, average hourly earnings in February increased by 68 cents – 2.6 percent – year over year. The Labor Department said the unemployment rate was 4.1 percent, unchanged for the fifth straight month.



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February 28, 2018

St. Patrick’s Day Spending to Hit Record $5.9 Billion

 Americans plan to spend a record $5.9 billion to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this year, according to the annual survey released by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics. That’s the highest level in the survey’s 14-year history, up from last year’s previous record of $5.3 billion.
 “With winter hopefully winding down over the next few weeks, consumers are ready to start celebrating spring with St. Patrick’s Day,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “The holiday falls on a Saturday this year, so Americans will have more time to splurge a little as they get together with friends and loved ones for a day of festivities.”
 The survey found over 149 million U.S. adults plan to celebrate the March 17 Irish holiday, up from last year’s approximate 139 million. Consumers are expected to spend an average of $39.65 per person, up from last year’s previous record of $37.92. The holiday is most popular among individuals 18-24 years old, with 77 percent celebrating, but those 35-44 will be the biggest spenders at an average of $45.76.
 According to the survey, 83 percent of those celebrating will wear green, 31 percent plan to make a special dinner and 27 percent will head to a party at a bar or restaurant. Twenty-seven percent will also decorate their homes or offices in an Irish theme and 16 percent will attend a private party. In addition, 15 percent plan to attend a St. Patrick’s Day parade and 9 percent will host a party.
  “Compared to other spending holidays, St. Patrick’s Day is less about giving gifts and more about having fun with friends and family regardless of the budget,” Prosper Executive Vice President of Strategy Phil Rist said. “With more Americans celebrating the shamrock-filled day, we expect consumers will enjoy their favorite green beverage and apparel, attend events around their community and decorate their homes with lucky four-leaf clovers.”
 The survey found 50 percent will purchase food, 41 percent beverages, 31 percent apparel or accessories, 26 percent decorations and 16 percent candy. Of those making purchases, 38 percent will go to grocery stores, 31 percent to discount stores, 20 percent to department stores and 19 percent to bars or restaurants.



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February 16, 2018
■ Kingston-Miami Trading Company President

Patrick Cha-Fong to Meet with President Trump and Nation’s Leaders

Palm Beach Forum to Focus on Vision to ‘Make America Great Again’

 Kingston-Miami Trading Company President Patrick Cha-Fong (pictured) has been invited to participate in a program and reception with President Donald Trump and top Republican Party leaders at a gathering to be held, Saturday, March 3, at The Mar-A-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida.
 This tight-knit gathering of the nation’s top leaders will provide a unique opportunity for those in attendance to sit down and discuss how to continue moving the Republican Party forward and further advance President Trump’s vision to Make America Great Again.
 A prominent member of the Food Industry, Cha-Fong and his wife Christine, founded the Miami-based leader in Caribbean and ethnic foods 35-years ago. The company has grown to become a world leader within its ever-expanding category. Cha-Fong’s Jamaican/Chinese/Canadian/American heritage is a strong asset by which his attendance at the event reflects the diversity within today’s business world.
  “I look forward to discussing with the President and others gathered for this event my ideas and those of others who have come together with the mutual goal of how to make America great, again.” Cha-Fong told TODAY’S GROCER.
 Cha-Fong had been active in politics for many years prior to (then) President Ronald Regan conferring on him life-membership in the Republican National Committee in 1980. In addition to his membership in the RNC, today, Cha-Fong, is a member of President Trump’s Presidential Advisory Board.
 President Trump has gone on record as saying that he considers Cha-Fong’s support vitally important to the Party winning in 2018 and promoting the President’s policies that will create a safer, stronger and more prosperous country.
 Cha-Fong has a long history of both personal and business success. His is truly an American success story. Within the world of finance, Cha-Fong is believed to be among a select, small group of individuals that can boast the highest credit scores. Cha-Fong achieved, six times running, a FICO Score of 850, the highest achievable rating.
 Kingston-Miami Trading Company distributes many of the leading brands within the all-important gourmet/ethnic niche: Jamaican Country Style, Caribbean Exotic Gourmet, Mrs. Chris, Sak Pasé, Chef Pearl Chang, Lion of Judah, Jamaicaway, and a number of highly-popular nationally branded products. K-MT products can be found across the United States and throughout the Caribbean. They are sold by many of the leading retailers and are available online via Amazon.



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February 15, 2018

Goya Foods Named an Official Sponsor of South Beach Food & Wine Festival

 For the seventh consecutive year, Goya Foods, Inc. will participate in the Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival (SOBEWFF). Also for the seventh year in a row, the company will serve as the Official Latin Foods Provider and reprise its role as the title sponsor of the Grand Tasting Village for the third year running. This year, Goya will expand its participation in the festival by becoming The Official Spice and Olive Oil Partner. Festival-goers will now be able to experience Goya Foods in more ways throughout the event.
 Goya's lineup of celebrity chefs will delight attendees with their culinary prowess. Participating chefs include Fernando Desa, Goya's executive chef; Jose Mendín, executive chef of Food Comma Hospitality Group; Richard Ingraham, personal chef to Dwyane Wade; and Sean Brasel, executive chef and owner of Meat Market.
 Throughout the five-day festival – which runs from Wednesday through Sunday, February 21-25, 2018 – Goya Foods invites guests to experience the mouthwatering variety of its Latin American products.
 "Goya wants everyone, from the expert chef to the home cook, to enjoy authentic Latin recipes that are both delicious and easy to make," said Frank Unanue, President of Goya Foods of Florida. "With the wide selection of Goya products available, it's easy to stretch the imagination and combine new flavors to create dishes that are uniquely yours, and fun to eat."  Goya will delight guests with the brand's authentic Hispanic flavors during three signature events throughout the Festival:
GOYA FOODS' GRAND TASTING VILLAGE FEATURING MASTERCARD GRAND TASTING TENTS & KITCHENAID CULINARY DEMONSTRATIONS (Friday, February 23 – Sunday, February 25):
• As a culinary captain, Goya's Executive Chef Fernando Desa will open Goya Foods' "Savory Studios" activation at the Goya Foods Grand Tasting Village, which runs Friday, February 23 - Sunday, February 25. Chef Desa is responsible for the research and development of new products and recipes for the family-owned company. This year, Chef Desa will serve delectable Goya recipes dreamt up exclusively for the event: Crunchy Pork Belly Taco, Tuna Tataki Tostada and Red Bean Crème Brûlée. On Sunday, Chef Desa will partner with one of Miami's elite Chefs, Jose Mendin, Executive Chef and Co-founder of Food Comma Hospitality Group, who will showcase a Bao with Lechon.
FUN AND FIT AS A FAMILY FEATURING THE GOYA FOODS' KIDZ KITCHEN (Saturday, February 24 - Sunday, February 25):
• For junior chefs, Fun and Fit as a Family featuring Goya Foods Kidz Kitchen offers family-friendly fun including healthy food tastings, physical fitness activities, and star-studded healthy cooking demonstrations. Chef Ingraham, personal chef to basketball superstar Dwyane Wade, will serve as the emcee and introduce the astounding lineup of chefs presenting cooking demos at the Goya Foods Kidz Kitchen. Chef Ingraham, in collaboration with Chef Desa, will participate in a live interactive food demonstration to kick-off the Goya Foods' Kidz Kitchen on Saturday. Throughout the event, Chefs Desa and Ingraham will prepare black bean quesadillas that will be served from Goya's outpost at Fun and Fit.
GOYA FOODS' SWINE, WINE & SPIRITS (Sunday, February 25):
• Bringing the five-day festival to a close, Goya will once again take over the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables for the Goya Foods' Swine, Wine & Spirits presented by The National Pork Board and hosted by Giorgio Rapicavoli. Goya's Chef Desa will partner with Sean Brasel, executive chef and owner of Meat Market, to prepare different variations of pork dishes. These master chefs promise to once again craft iconic creations such as chili rubbed pork belly and seared pork rib and pork cheek.



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February 12, 2018

Café Bustelo El Café del Futuro Scholarship Now Open for 2018 Applications

$50,000 in College Scholarships will be Awarded to Latino Students

 Café Bustelo is partnering with the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) to launch the fifth-annual Café Bustelo El Café del Futuro Scholarship. Eligible U.S. students can submit their application for the opportunity to receive one of ten $5,000 scholarships. All eligible applications must be received by Friday, May 25, 2018 at 11:59 p.m. ET, and recipients will be announced on or about September 15, 2018.
 Café Bustelo is asking students of Latino descent to submit an application that includes an 800-words or less essay in English or Spanish describing how their heritage, family, and community have impacted their desire and motivation to obtain a college degree; how they plan to give back to their community; and what they intend to accomplish with their degree.
 In its fifth year, the Café Bustelo El Café del Futuro Scholarship has awarded $180,000 in college scholarships to 36 Latino students nationwide. In 2017, more than 1,000 eligible entries were received. The selected essays conveyed how heritage and culture have driven students' pursuit of higher education and betterment of their communities. The scholarship maintains founder Gregorio Bustelo's passion and tradition of reinvesting in local communities and celebrating Latino cultural values. Café Bustelo proudly continues the tradition of supporting communities that have enjoyed its coffee in their homes for nearly a century.
 To apply for the scholarship and to review the Guidelines, visit the HACU website at https://www.hacu.net/hacu/Scholarships.asp



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February 7, 2018

Russell Stover Chocolates is Saving Relationships this Valentine’s Day

“Valentine’s Day SOS Van” Hits Downtown Chicago in Collaboration with Walgreens

 Russell Stover Chocolates will hit the streets of Chicago on Valentine’s Day to rescue the relationships of last-minute gifters facing the possible fallout of greeting spouses or sweethearts empty-handed.
 On Wednesday, February 14, Kansas City, Mo.-based Russell Stover Chocolates, Number one in Valentine’s Day chocolate sales, will deploy its “Valentine’s Day SOS Van”—a specially wrapped 1960 International Harvester Metro—in the Richard J. Daley Plaza in Downtown Chicago, where brand ambassadors will hand out free 14-ounce heart-shaped boxes of chocolates and dollar-off coupons for Russell Stover Chocolates valid at select Walgreens locations throughout Chicago.
 “No one wants to disappoint their special someone by showing up empty-handed on Valentine’s Day, but life can be hectic and people sometimes forget. To rescue folks from their gift-giving emergencies, the Russell Stover Chocolates team and our Valentine’s Day SOS Van will be at the ready,” said Hilary Butler, Russell Stover Chocolates Brand Manager. “When it comes to Valentine’s Day gifting, there’s just no substitute for the iconic Russell Stover heart-shaped box of chocolates.”
 A paid social media campaign and a mainstream media relations effort will help drive consumer awareness and foot traffic to Daley Plaza and spark engagement with the Russell Stover Chocolates brand.
 Russell Stover chose Daley Plaza for its highly visible central location in the Chicago Loop and the fact that a dozen Walgreens stores, where coupons can be redeemed, are within easy walking distance.
 “Russell Stover Chocolates is here for the man on the go, and we’re helping him on a day when he may find himself in crisis mode,” adds Butler. “Better still, we’ve joined forces with our friends at Walgreens to offer him a special deal on chocolates should he find himself in a relationship jam on one of the other 364 days of the year.”
 “We know that Valentine’s Day can sneak up on everyone. Fortunately, Walgreens offers accessible locations throughout Chicagoland, so shoppers can rely on us to get in and out with just what they need,” said Dana Capaccio, Manager, Retail Marketing. “We’re here to help ensure our customers never have to show up to a Valentine’s Day celebration empty handed!”
 An estimated 70 million Americans will give the gift of chocolate or candy for Valentine’s Day, and 94 percent of Americans want to receive chocolate or candy for Valentine’s Day—more than any other traditional gift associated with the holiday, according to the National Confectioners Association.
 More than 40 percent of people say a heart-shaped box makes the gift even sweeter, and 43 percent of people say they plan to buy themselves a box of chocolate to celebrate.
 Americans will purchase more than 58 million pounds of chocolate and 36 million heart-shaped boxes of chocolate candies in the week leading up to Valentine’s Day.



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February 3, 2018

Consumers to Spend Near-Record $19.6 Billion on Valentine’s Day

 U.S. consumers are expected to spend an average $143.56 on Valentine’s Day as 55 percent of the population celebrates this year, an increase from last year’s $136.57, according to the annual survey released today by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics. Total spending is expected to reach $19.6 billion, up from $18.2 billion last year. The numbers are the second-highest in the survey’s 15-year history, topped only by the record $146.84 and $19.7 billion seen in 2016.
 “Americans are looking forward to pampering and indulging their loved ones with flowers, candy, dinner and all of the other Valentine’s Day stops,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “With the holidays behind them and the winter months dragging along, consumers are looking for something to celebrate this time of year.”
 This year’s survey found consumers plan to spend an average $88.98 on their significant other/spouse ($12.1 billion), $25.29 on other family members such as children or parents ($3.5 billion), $7.26 on children’s classmates/teachers ($991 million), $7.19 on friends ($982 million), $5.50 on pets ($751 million) and $4.79 on co-workers ($654 million). Those 25-34 will be the biggest spenders at an average of $202.76.
 Those celebrating Valentine’s Day plan to spend $4.7 billion on jewelry (given by 19 percent), $3.7 billion on an evening out (35 percent), $2 billion on flowers (36 percent), $1.9 billion on clothing (17 percent), $1.5 billion on gift cards/gift certificates (15 percent) and $894 million on greeting cards (46 percent). More consumers plan on purchasing candy this year, with 55 percent (up from 50 percent) saying they will give gifts of candy for a total of $1.8 billion. “Gifts of experience” such as tickets to a concert or sporting event continue to be popular, sought by 42 percent of consumers, but only 24 percent plan to give one. Those 25-34 are the most likely to give such a gift at 41 percent.
Much the same as last year, consumers plan to shop at department stores (35 percent), discount stores (32 percent), online (29 percent), specialty stores (19 percent), florists (17 percent), and local small businesses (14 percent).
 Even those foregoing Valentine’s Day festivities won’t be left out. More than a quarter (27 percent) of consumers who are not observing the holiday have an alternative in mind such as treating themselves in some way or getting together with family and friends.
  “Valentine’s Day has become a holiday consumers take advantage of not only to spoil their loved ones but themselves,” Prosper Executive Vice President of Strategy Phil Rist said. “Shoppers should look out for deals on everything from candy to date-night dinner packages in the coming days, leaving plenty of options for those looking to make the occasion truly special.”



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January 31, 2018

Kroger's Simple Truth Brand Reaches $2 Billion in Annual Sales

 The Kroger Co. has announced its Simple Truth brand has achieved $2 billion in annual sales.
 "Simple Truth is a brand that has earned our customers' trust through clean labels, fantastic flavors and affordability since its launch five years ago," said Robert Clark, Kroger's Senior Vice President of Merchandising. "Simple Truth has become the second-largest brand sold in our stores, and Kroger is proud to have led the way in making this category more mainstream and accessible, feeding our customers' appetites for natural, organic and free-from products."
 Earlier this month, Kroger launched its largest-ever Our Brands customer sales promotion, featuring savings on thousands of Simple Truth and Simple Truth Organic items. "If Our Brands were on the Fortune 500, it would rank number 138," Mr. Clark added. "Our Brands is shaping the way we are redefining the customer experience as outlined in our Restock Kroger plan."
 The Simple Truth brand now offers more than 1,400 unique products across multiple categories, including grocery, meat, produce, deli, bakery, baby, household essentials, personal care and Fair Trade Certified. With the help of 84.51° insights, Simple Truth will continue to innovate and introduce new items in 2018 that align with customer trends and are always affordable.
 Simple Truth products are exclusive to the Kroger Family of Stores and customers can purchase the brand in a variety of ways: in a store; through ClickList; or Vitacost.com for ship-to-home delivery.



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January 25, 2018

Big Year for the Big Game: Consumers to Spend $15.3 Billion on 2018 Super Bowl

 American adults are expected to spend an average $81.17 for a total of $15.3 billion as an estimated 188.5 million people watch the New England Patriots take on the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl next month, according to the annual survey released today by National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics. Projected viewership is the same as last year but total spending is up 8.5% from $14.1 billion in 2017.
 “Whether throwing their own party, heading to a friend’s house or gathering at their favorite bar or restaurant, consumers are ready to spend on the big game,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Super Bowl shoppers will find retailers well-stocked on decorations, apparel, food and all other necessities to cheer on their favorite team.”
 Of the 76 percent of those surveyed who plan to watch the game, 82 percent say they will purchase food and beverages — up slightly from 80 percent last year — and the highest in the survey’s history. Another 11 percent will buy team apparel or accessories, unchanged from 2017. New televisions and decorations hold a similar draw for those planning to watch at home, with 8 percent planning to purchase each, also unchanged. Those 25-34 will spend the most of any age group at an average of $118.43.
 According to the survey, 18 percent (45 million) will host a Super Bowl party, with 28 percent (69 million) planning to attend one. Bars and restaurants will entice 5 percent (11 million) planning to watch at their favorite local spot.
 Of those watching, 41 percent say the most important part of the Super Bowl is the game itself, while 24 percent cite the commercials, 15 percent like getting together with friends, 14 percent watch for the half-time show and 7 percent are there for the food.
 “Consumers are carrying strong spending momentum from the holiday season into their Super Bowl festivities,” Prosper Executive Vice President of Strategy Phil Rist said. “This is evident through increased plans for purchasing while the number of viewers remains steady with last year. Fans aren’t afraid to spend a few extra dollars to make this year’s game the best one yet.”
 The survey, which asked 7,277 consumers about their Super Bowl plans, was conducted January 3-10 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.1 percentage points. Full data results will not be published on NRF.com but news media and analysts who require additional information can contact press@nrf.com.



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January 18, 2018

Judith McKenna Named President and CEO of Walmart International

 Wal-Mart Stores Inc. recently announced that Judith McKenna will be promoted to President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Walmart International, the company’s second-largest operating segment. She will be succeeding David Cheesewright, who has been in role since 2014 and recently shared his desire to retire from a full-time role.
 McKenna, currently serving as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer (COO) for Walmart U.S., will assume her new role on Feb. 1, 2018, and report to Walmart President and CEO, Doug McMillon.
 “During his 19 years with the company, David has served in a number of key leadership roles in our company. He has built a reputation as an insightful strategic thinker with a track record of delivering consistent, profitable growth. He has been instrumental in strengthening our business across the globe. He’s a passionate advocate for our people, culture and purpose around the world,” McMillon said.
 Cheesewright will remain with the company full time through March and then serve the company, on a limited basis, with specific projects for a longer period of time.
  “I’ve had the pleasure to work with Judith for many years and have seen first-hand her ability to lead strategic change, build relationships with our associates and strengthen our business. It has been inspiring to see her personal growth and the results she’s driven over the years. Her integrity, high expectations and passion for the business and our associates will ensure our continued success in International,” said McMillon.
  “Being chosen to lead Walmart International truly is an honor, and I can’t think of a more exciting time to be in this part of the business,” said McKenna. “I look forward to building upon our progress to improve the experience for our customers and associates around the world.”
  McKenna’s career with Walmart began in 1996 at Asda, the company’s U.K. operation, where she served as Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer. McKenna also served as Executive Vice President of Strategy and International Development for Walmart International. There, she led several areas, including international strategy, real estate, mergers and acquisitions, integration, global format development and purchase leverage.
 Upon moving to the Walmart U.S. division in April 2014, McKenna served as the business unit’s Chief Development Officer, where she led the strategy, development and growth of Walmart’s small format business and the partnership with Walmart.com to integrate digital commerce into the physical store presence. Several months later she was promoted to her expanded role as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for Walmart U.S. with responsibilities for the company’s U.S. store operations, including more than 4,500 retail locations.
 Walmart’s International division serves more than 100 million customers every week in more than 6,200 retail units, operating outside the United States with 55 banners in 27 countries.



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January 11, 2018

Domino's CEO Patrick Doyle Plans to Leave Company in June

 President and Chief Executive Officer J. Patrick Doyle has announced his intention to depart Domino's on June 30 after more than eight years at the helm of what is now the world leader in pizza.
%nbsp;At the same time, Domino's Board of Directors announced the promotion of Richard Allison, President of Domino's International, to the role of Chief Executive Officer, succeeding Doyle; and the promotion of Russell Weiner, President of Domino's USA, to the newly-created role of Chief Operating Officer of Domino's and President of the Americas. Both appointments will be effective as of July 1.
 "One of the great honors and opportunities of my professional life was being named CEO of this incredible brand in early 2010," Doyle said. "At that time, I set three goals for myself: I wanted us to become the #1 pizza company in the world; I wanted Domino's to provide our franchisees with the best possible return on their investment by creating a dramatically better experience for our customers; and I wanted to have a Leadership Team in place that would be ready to create even better results into the future. I'm proud to say that we've accomplished all of those goals, and I will leave Domino's knowing that it is in great hands."
 Commented Domino's Chairman of the Board David Brandon: "Patrick excelled at every role he served at Domino's for more than 20 years and during the past eight, he distinguished himself as one of the best leaders in the restaurant industry. Under his leadership, the brand opened more than 5,500 stores, launched in more than a dozen new countries, and Domino's became one of the top-performing stocks of the decade. As important, though, is the fact that he developed an outstanding leadership team, which has allowed the Board to select a successor from that team."
 Richard (Ritch) Allison will officially take over as Domino's Chief Executive Officer on July 1. As President – Domino's International, Allison currently oversees more than 9,000 stores and all franchise relationships outside the United States.
 Allison joined Domino's in March 2011 as executive vice president of International, joining the brand from Bain & Company, Inc., a leading global business consulting firm, where he was partner and co-leader of Bain's restaurant practice.
 "Under Ritch's leadership, Domino's international division grew by more than 4,500 stores in more than 85 markets in six years. Domino's International has achieved 95 consecutive quarters of same store sales growth and accounts for more than one-half of the company's global retail sales," Brandon said. "The Board is confident Ritch is well-prepared to lead the company to the next level. And he could not have a more talented and capable leader than Russell Weiner to assume the critical new role of Chief Operating Officer of Domino's and President of the Americas."
 "I am honored and humbled by this opportunity, as well as the trust and faith the Board of Directors has in me to lead this incredible global brand," Allison said. "Patrick Doyle inspired us with the vision to become the world's market share leader in pizza, and we've done that. Now, we're looking to continue accelerating our growth with the support of our tremendous franchisees, managers and team members the world over. We want to become the dominant player in pizza everywhere in the world. I can't wait to get started."
 Allison received his degree in business administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and later earned an MBA from UNC's Kenan-Flagler Business School, where he was named a Dean's Scholar and received the Norman Block Award. He currently serves on the Kenan-Flagler Business School Board of Advisors.
 Weiner Named Chief Operating Officer of Domino's and President of the Americas Russell Weiner, currently serving as President – Domino's USA, will take over in the newly-created role of Chief Operating Officer of Domino's and President of the Americas on July 1.
 "As we continue to globalize our business, it is important that we create synergies and centers of excellence across the Domino's system," Brandon said. "In his role as COO of Domino's, Russell will be leading this effort. As President of the Americas, he will oversee marketing, operations, store growth and development, franchise relationships, strategy and insights and e-commerce for Domino's in the Americas - markets that account for 50 percent of Domino's global retail sales."
 Weiner was responsible for the reinvention of Domino's U.S. menu, which led to record-setting sales increases and the turnaround of the Domino's brand. Weiner is also credited for the creation of Domino's "Pizza Theater" store design, the redesign of the brand logo, and creation of the DXP pizza delivery vehicle, as well as many product and technology innovation launches. "Joining Domino's as CMO in 2008 was the thrill of a lifetime for me," Weiner said. "We had an opportunity to take a 'legacy' brand that was almost 50 years old and make it fresh again. Any marketer would love to have that chance. But then to become president of the U.S. business and now, to serve as Chief Operating Officer and to lead the Americas, is an honor that is difficult to describe. I'm looking forward to working closely with Ritch as we set our sights even higher than ever."
 A graduate of Cornell University, Weiner earned his MBA in marketing and international business from the New York University Stern School of Business. He currently serves on the Board of The Clorox Company.



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