ALA Executive Briefing
June. 10, 2011

Hollywood guilds to host Michelle Obama in event honoring military families
Company Town via Los Angeles Times
Hollywood's guilds are teaming up to support first lady Michelle Obama's initiative to help military families. The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, Directors Guild of America, Producers Guild of America, Screen Actors Guild and Writers Guild of America West plan to host Obama at an event honoring military families June 13.More

Gates pledges wider US military presence in Asia
The Associated Press via Yahoo News
In a parting pitch to Asian allies, retiring U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the Pentagon is considering steps to widen its military presence across the Pacific Rim. He said budget woes won't interfere.More

GOP lawmakers unveil bill to reduce government workforce
Government Executive
House lawmakers have introduced legislation that aims to reduce the federal workforce by 10 percent by 2015 through attrition. A trio of Republicans unveiled a bill that would allow hiring one federal employee to replace every three workers who retire or leave their job. More

Antiwar Republican is no longer party's pariah
The New York Times
On matters like abortion, military spending and religion, Rep. Walter B. Jones seems thoroughly in tune with this conservative, staunchly Republican district in eastern North Carolina, home to the Marine Corps' Camp Lejeune and thousands of military retirees.More

Food safety notice: Tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce
U.S. Air Force
Military commissaries in Europe are not selling or receiving lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers from any European sources until further notice, according to a directive from the U.S. Army's European Regional Veterinary Command. The medical command delivered its directive in the face of the current E. coli outbreak in Germany. More

PG online poll: Escalating meat, produce prices most worrisome
Progressive Grocer
Results of PG's most recent online poll data finds escalating meat and produce prices weighing most heavily on minds of retail trading partners heading into summer, when sales of grill-friendly proteins, and fresh fruits and vegetables are of pivotal importance.More

Nutrition at the shelf edge
Supermarket News
Over the past several years, two parallel trends have been reshaping the supermarket industry: The declining health of the nation and the aging population. Accompanying these health alarms is the proliferation of products in the supermarket as manufacturers and retailers seek to gain competitive advantage and satisfy consumer demand.More

A look at consumers' love/hate relationships with grocers
Progressive Grocer
In a bid to determine the passion intensity (love/hate) and the amount of online buzz around America's grocery stores, NetBase has revisited its social media analysis of five major retailers — Safeway, Whole Foods, Kroger, Costco and Wal-Mart — which provides a snapshot of information based on analysis of 95 million social media sources.More

Groupon gets into groceries
Internet Retailer
Groupon Inc. recently launched a pilot with Springfield, Mass.-based supermarket chain Big Y Foods to offer grocery-related discount vouchers. But rather than require consumers to present a printed-out voucher or a 2-D bar code on a mobile phone to redeem its offers, Groupon will allow consumers to redeem deals using their grocery store loyalty cards.More

Shop till you learn something new at the market
The Washington Post
"I'm looking for a new rice, and what the heck to do with it," a middle-aged customer announces on a Saturday morning at the shiny new Whole Foods Market in Rockville, Md. This is music to the ears of Michael Kiss. Strategically positioned in the bulk foods section, he is not merely a team member, as company employees are known. He is the in-store cooking coach, a pioneer in Whole Foods' effort to enhance food shopping with the one-on-one experience of, say, an Apple Genius Bar. Without having to make an appointment.More

NCR to add 800 Blockbuster Express kiosks at Food Lion stores
The Wall Street Journal
NCR Corp. is adding 800 Blockbuster Express locations to Food Lion stores in the mid-Atlantic and southeastern U.S. regions as the company continues to expand its footprint for the movie-rental machines. NCR, best known for automated teller machines and cash registers, owns and operates more than 9,000 kiosks under the Blockbuster Express brand.More

ALA Congressional Caucus
Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Robert Gordon will join us on the morning of June 14 in Washington, D.C., at the Rayburn House Office Building and address the congressional caucus. In light of the recent budget stress, this is a must-attend event. (This event is sold out.)

For details on any of our events, visit our Web page at

2011 ALA/DeCA Hawaii Conference & Food Show: Aug. 15-18, Hawaii Prince Hotel, Honolulu. Watch for registration information.

64th Annual Convention
: Oct. 3-5, Orlando World Marriott Center, Orlando, Fla. Watch for registration information.More

Dollar General pricing news
The wall Street Journal via Yahoo Finance Message Board
It would be tough to control a chain-store reaction. But that's a risk facing retailers that compete with Dollar General. The discounter recently said it would forgo gross-margin growth this year to keep retail prices low in the face of higher commodity costs.More

Wal-Mart unveils mini-stores near dollar rivals
The Seattle Times
The Walmart of the future could very well be the size of your local drugstore. Wal-Mart Stores recently unveiled its first Walmart Express, its answer to the growing threat of dollar stores, which have been successfully maneuvering the post-recession economy.More

Rude, pushy salespeople top list of consumer gripes
Advertising Age
They might put up with waiting in line in the store or listening to annoying hold music, but consumers will walk out of the store if confronted by a rude or pushy salesperson — or by no salesperson at all. According to a Consumer Reports National Research survey of 1,010 adults, 64 percent of those questioned admitted to actually leaving a store during the past year as a result of poor customer service, while 65 percent acknowledge being "tremendously annoyed" by a rude salesperson.More

Industry rips 'compromise' swipe fee amendment
Progressive Grocer
Retailers have come out against an amendment to the Economic Development Revitalization Act of 2011 offered by Sens. Jon Tester, D-Mont., and Bob Corker, R-Tenn., which would delay debit card swipe fee reforms. "The latest Tester-Corker swipe fee language was developed by big banks, for big banks, without input from retailers or consumers who are counting the days until reforms take effect July 21," noted Jennifer Hatcher, senior vice president of government relations at the Arlington, Va.-based Food Marketing Institute.More

Calling all c-store foodies
CSNews Foodservice Retailing
For convenience stores that focus on food — as many do in the channel these days — this year's National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show, held May 21-24 in Chicago, stirred up some great menu, packaging and display ideas on the vast show floor and in the more than 70 educational sessions offered. Convenience Store News made note of several food inspirations that could give forward-thinking convenience operators a competitive edge.More

Wal-Mart seeking 'new generation' customer
Supermarket News
Wal-Mart Stores will emphasize everyday low prices, strong cost controls and push to be a leader in global e-commerce in an effort to win the "next generation customer," Mike Duke, the retailer's chief executive officer, said in remarks recently at the company's annual meeting.More

Male shoppers more likely to resist lifestyle changes
Gourmet Retailer
Most studies into shopper behavior dissect shoppers by income, ethnicity or geographic location, but very few focus on shopping habits of men versus women, despite the fact that there is an increasing number of men at least partly responsible for shopping, either because they work or stay at home, or are a part of two-income households where shopping responsibilities are shared.More

WCDC fixing WMS problems

The Army & Air Force Exchange Service West Coast Distribution Center implemented a new warehouse management system May 1. Since that time, Exchanges (primarily in the Pacific and the Western continental United States) have experienced a disruption in service that has resulted in facilities being temporarily out of stock on select items. It is expected that facilities in Operation Enduring Freedom may feel some effect. However, because of the additional lead-time, there have been no reports to date.

We are doing everything possible to minimize the impact. In fact, the Exchange has mobilized an Implementation Team and supplemental HQs staff to assist Distribution Center management with resolving this temporary disruption. While the teams are still working through some operational issues concerning receiving and shipping, the Exchange has noted gradual improvements in both areas.

In the meantime, the Exchange's Waco and Dan Daniel Distribution Centers have been utilized to fill some emergency orders to augment shipments out of the West Coast Distribution Center during the past four weeks and will continue as needed.

Several software program fixes are expected to further improve concerns by the end of this week. The West Coast Distribution Center is expected to return to normal operations by the end of the month. More

New VCS associate director of operations

I am pleased to announce James Leahy as the VCSCO associate director of operations. He will replace Mike Wallace who retired, officially, in March but has been on board overseeing the replacement process. Leahy will assume oversight responsibility for day-to-day field operations, region manager oversight, field staff development, coordinating national policy, financial budgets and representing senior leadership in various forums.

Leahy joined VCS in 2007 as chief merchandising officer. Prior to joining VCS, Leahy held the positions of merchandise manager and VP merchandise manager for Macy's Department Stores. Since joining the team, Leahy has played a significant role transforming our retail division by inserting sound business practices, new reporting mechanisms and exciting programs which resulted in significant retail sales increases and earnings. Our consistent improvements in customer service scores can also be attributed to Leahy's leadership and forward thinking approach to managing his operation. I'm confident he will bring the same level of attention, leadership and intensity to his new role.

Over the next few months, Leahy will be working with Wallace traveling the country learning more about the intricacies of our operations. I'm sure you he will visit your facilities soon. Please join me in congratulating Jim Leahy!More

Casing ceremony marks new era for Army MWR
U.S. Army
Employees of the Army's Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command joined together June 2 for the casing of the FMWRC colors near the Nation's capital. In accordance with 2005 Base Realignment and Closure law, the command is moving from Alexandria, Va., to a new home at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio.More

General, Sheila Casey honored for service to Army families
U.S. Army
Retired Gen. George W. Casey Jr. and his wife, Sheila, recently were honored by the Army’s Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command for their contributions to Army families. On May 25, in a ceremony in Alexandria, Va., both were awarded the Order of the White Plume, the highest award the Army can present to individuals in support of Army Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs.More