ALA Executive Briefing
Apr. 17, 2015

Senate Chairman: No final budget yet
Defense News
U.S. House and Senate budget negotiators are unlikely to produce a final 2016 federal spending measure soon, says a key member. Senate Budget Committee Chairman Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., is advising against expecting to see a compromise budget resolution by the time both chambers adjourn for now.More

The Pentagon says this man can fix its personnel system
Defense One
It's not the highest-profile office within the Pentagon, but it has outsized influence on the nearly 3 million troops who serve. It's the Office of Personnel and Readiness, or P&R, which oversees everything from pay and compensation to housing, health care, education and military supermarkets. But for the last six years, the office has seen its leaders come and go rather quickly, contributing to a perception in and outside the Pentagon that the office has not been effective in taking care of what senior leaders often call the military's most precious resource: its people.

A new Chu for the Pentagon's Personnel Office? The Pentagon's Personnel and Readiness office isn't the sexiest, highest-profile office within the Pentagon. But it has outsized influence on the nearly 3 million troops who serve, since it oversees everything from pay and compensation to housing, health care, education and military supermarkets.More

Defense bill's lesser provisions may have big impact
Military Times
One lawmaker wants safer cockpit door locks for the civilian planes that transport troops. Another wants to let service members carry private weapons on base. Several others want easier regulations on small-business owners bidding on defense contracts. And they all want their proposals included in the upcoming 2016 National Defense Authorization Act, the massive annual budget legislation that is just starting to come into focus.More

House panel unveils $77 billion bill to fund military bases, vets' benefits
The Hill
The House Appropriations Committee released a $76.6 billion bill to fund military and veteran housing, benefits, training and maintenance — $1.2 billion below President Barack Obama's budget request.More

The sequestration monster myth
Defense Secretary Ash Carter warns that sequestration will make the nation "less secure." Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., says it will set the military "on a far more dangerous course." And Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey says it will prompt "a dramatic change in how we protect our nation." More

O'Rourke: Explore options before troop cuts
El Paso Inc.
For years, U.S. defense officials have asked lawmakers to give them permission to conduct a new round of base closures in 2017, saying the Pentagon could save billions by shedding empty facilities and unnecessary real estate.More

Defense hearings: Iran showdown and NDAA prep
Military Times
Congress returns to work this week to a host of appropriations and authorization hearings, but the Iran nuclear deal debate in the Senate is likely to command the most attention.More

Military medical leaders sound alarm over spending cuts
Military Times
Looming spending cuts pose a significant threat to military medical research and could harm health services for troops, families and retirees, top Army, Navy and Air Force medical commanders told Congress.More

Coalition valued associates send letter to Congress
The Coalition to Save our Military Shopping Benefits sent a letter this week to the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the Senate and House Committees on Armed Services. “We strongly urge Congress to reject the Department of Defense (DoD) FY 2016 budget proposal to cut $322 million in funding for commissaries along with changes to legislation that would enable these cuts. The Pentagon's budget cuts will destroy the commissary benefit, which is cherished and valued by millions of military personnel and their families, will severely impact young families and fixed income retirees, and will eliminate much needed jobs for the military community." ... Military families have been saying for months that higher prices and reduced savings will drive them to shop elsewhere — eliminating their earned benefit, impacting exchange sales and putting at risk hundreds of millions in exchange dividends that fund vital community support programs.More

Commissary-exchange consolidation idea is gaining steam
Stars and Stripes
Consolidation of the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) and three separate military exchange services into a single Defense Retail Activity (DeRA) is gaining support among policymakers inside the Department of Defense (DoD) and perhaps a key congressional subcommittee, a source reports ... Military stores face threats to their survival not seen before. DoD is urging Congress to slash $1 billion a year from DeCA's $1.4 billion budget. Advocates for military shoppers, and for manufacturers and suppliers doing business with base stores, have formed a "Coalition to Save Our Military Shopping Benefits." In an April 16 letter to the armed services committee, the coalition says DoD's plan "will destroy the commissary benefit" and "severely impact young families and fixed-income retirees." It also argues that obliterating the commissary benefit will eliminate tens of thousands of "much needed jobs for the military community."More

Report: Commissary price increase would lead to customer drop
Jackson Daily News
A new study shows price increases at military commissaries could lead to an exodus of customers. Military families said fewer savings would deter them from making the trip to the commissary. Nicole Doria has shopped at the Camp Lejeune commissary for the past three years for her family of six. She prefers to shop on base because "the pricing percentage-wise is better than Walmart." But if the savings drastically decreased, as suggested, monetarily it wouldn’t make sense for her family. "A lot of families are already on WIC because the pay is already below the line," Doria said. "Families are already struggling and this wouldn’t help."More

Commissaries targeted again
MOAA Spouse E-news
Why are the commissaries under attack by the Department of Defense (DoD) yet again? The FY 2016 defense budget proposal continues the plan to ultimately reduce the annual commissary subsidy by $1 billion. According to a recently released report by the RAND Corporation, "Past and recent proposals to eliminate the subsidy, have been made in the name of reducing the DoD budget." With the proposed commissary cuts only saving .05 percent of the budget, why does the DoD continue to look at this "important nonpay benefit" as a cost saving measure? These cuts hurt the very people DoD needs to re-enlist at a time when retention is becoming increasingly challenging and those that have already sacrificed and devoted their entire adult lives in service to our nation: retirees.More

MOAA leaders from all 50 states urge lawmakers to end harmful effects of sequestration
PR Web via Pub Memo
More than 150 members of the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) "Stormed the Hill" this week to urge legislators to end harmful sequestration cuts, sustain military pay and benefits, and reject disproportional TRICARE fee hikes. The FY 2016 budget proposes several significant pay and benefit cuts that are inconsistent with the extreme sacrifices exemplified by the past 13 years of war. These cuts include capping military pay for the third straight year, reducing the housing allowance, and reducing commissary savings by up to 66 percent for military families.More

Fleet Reserve Association to storm The Hill
FRA NewsBytes
FRA's National Board of Directors stormed Capitol Hill this week to share shipmates' concerns with lawmakers: opposing TRICARE fee increases; excluding the Defense budget from Sequestration budget cuts; supporting legislation to allow "Blue Water Navy" veterans to be compensated for service connected disabilities related to exposure to Agent Orange herbicide; expanding concurrent receipt for certain disabled veterans; reducing the VA disability claims backlog; and opposing cuts to stateside commissary benefits. FRA is urging its members to send e-mails to their senators and representative re-enforcing the messages being delivered in person.More

Material Handling Equipment Preventive Maintenance and Repair Services
Solicitation Number: HDEC04-15-R-0018. Agency: Other Defense Agencies. Office: Defense Commissary Agency. Location: Contracting Business Unit/Equip, & Maint Div (HDEC04). More

Shelf Stocking, RSHA, and Custodial Operations
Solicitation Number: HDEC08-15-R-0006. Agency: Other Defense Agencies. Office: Defense Commissary Agency. Location: Contracting Bus Unit/Commercial Activities (HDEC08). More

From kale to acai: Plot the arc of a food fad
The Wall Street Journal (tiered subscription model)
Fat is good for you, artificial sweetener bad and cricket flour is a real thing being sold as a healthy source of protein in snack bars. Food companies and grocers count on us flitting from one eating habit to another to profit from a steady supply of products tailored to new tastes. But forecasting eating habits is tricky. More

ALDI is a growing menace to America's grocery retailers
ALDI is hard at work redefining the rules of shopper engagement and, in the process, eating away at the market share of many of America's most venerable food retailers — and food manufacturers. Through a relentless pursuit of perfecting its own store brands portfolio and unique shopping experience, ALDI has become more than a nuisance — it is a major force that is on the verge of changing the grocery retailing landscape. More

Retailers urged to ditch millennials in favor of older shoppers
Bloomberg Business
Retailers should stop wasting so much time trying to win over millennials because they're often broke. Instead, they should target older shoppers with more money to spend.More

Nestle in exclusive talks to sell frozen food unit to Brakes Group
Nestle is in exclusive talks to sell its frozen food unit Davigel to food service operator Brakes Group as part of a drive to trim its sprawling portfolio. A disposal would come as the world's largest packaged foods maker grapples with slowing growth in economies such as China and Brazil, and as shoppers in Europe and North America remain cost conscious due to the lingering effects of recession in many markets.More

Subway, TGI Fridays top the loyalty food chain
Advertising Age
Amazon, Kroger and Subway lead the loyalty program rankings in their respective categories, according to a new report from Bond Brand Loyalty.More

Americans' spending on dining out just overtook grocery sales for the 1st time
Bloomberg Business
Pass the menu, hold the shopping cart. Grocery stores are finding it harder to make headway with shoppers as a surge in spending at restaurants over the past several months signals Americans are more likely to ditch the brown bags in favor of doggy bags.More

How Wal-Mart Stores Inc. can improve its grocery business
The Motley Fool
Being the subject of consumer ire is a familiar position for Wal-Mart Stores. The world's largest retailer has regularly ranked at the bottom of the American Customer Satisfaction Index, and its labor polices and what some see as monopolistic practices have also garnered much criticism.More

Sprint-RadioShack stores to open in Chicago
Chicago Tribune
Sprint said it will open 27 additional locations in the Chicago area, all to be within RadioShack stores. The Overland Park, Kansas-based mobile-service provider is expanding across the country, with plans to open smaller shops inside the troubled electronics retailer.More

Coach to replace Estée Lauder with Interparfums in new perfume deal
The retailer is replacing Estée Lauder with Paris-based Interparfums as it looks to dramatically build up its fragrance business.More

J.C. Penney's next CEO said to plan to give managers more leeway
Bloomberg Business
Incoming J.C. Penney Co. Chief Executive Officer Marvin Ellison told store managers that he'll give them more leeway to select merchandise and make other crucial decisions as the struggling chain works to boost sales.More

Retailers, brands must adapt as new era in consumerism gains traction
The Shelby Report
Brands and retailers that are not changing with shoppers are struggling and will continue to do so, according to Doug Stephens, author of "The Retail Revival: Re-Imagining Business for the New Age of Consumers." He offered some advice for keeping up with the new consumer when he spoke at the Food Marketing Institute Midwinter Executive Conference earlier this year.More

Walgreens closing 200 stores, but opening 200 others
Chicago Tribune
Walgreens Boots Alliance said it will close about 200 less-profitable U.S. Walgreens stores and open the same number of stores in new locations.More

For the modern man, the sweatpant moves out of the gym
They are not blue jeans. They are not slacks. They are not chinos or khakis. "They're like a jogger," Lee Davis says of his pants, walking through an outdoor mall in Los Angeles called The Grove. He's wearing them with a professional black cardigan over a designer white tee, with a crisp fitted baseball cap and fancy tennis shoes. The pants stand out the most. They fit him impeccably, with clear, tapered lines and a high-end, light-khaki material that flows luxuriously.More

Dollar Tree: FTC nears end of Family Dollar merger review
The Wall Street Journal (tiered subscription model)
Dollar Tree Inc. said the Federal Trade Commission has substantially completed its review of the retailer's planned acquisition of Family Dollar Stores Inc. and has identified about 340 stores for divestiture. More

Will Macy's take over Belk stores?
Cincinnati Enquirer
Just weeks after Macy's declared it's looking for a new way to grow revenues, a major North Carolina rival confirms it might be for sale.More

New baby line part of private-label trend at Big Lots
The Columbus Dispatch
Big Lots has introduced a new private-label brand of baby supplies as part of the Columbus, Ohio-based retailer's efforts to encourage shoppers to visit more often for staple items.More

RadioShack recharging with C-store model
When RadioShack was on the ropes last year, CSP asked, "Can the Shack come back?" Following its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing in February, the electronics retailer is preparing for that "comeback" by taking a page from the convenience-store industry.More

Specialty food sales top $100 billion
Specialty food sales reached more than $100 billion last year, with sales in retail and food service channels hitting a record $109 billion. The State of the Specialty Food Industry 2015 report found that retail sales of specialty foods grew 19 percent from 2012 to 2014.More

RBC parses Reynolds-Lorillard path to approval
There has been a lot of noise recently about the potential deal between the No. 2 and No. 3 tobacco players, Reynolds American Inc. and Lorillard Inc. Will the U.S. Federal Trade Commission approve the deal as-is or require further divestitures? Or — as some have speculated — could the commission sue to block the deal entirely?More

Slideshow: Grand opening: Sixth sense
When we decided to drastically modify the layout of our existing 5,000-square-foot RaceTrac stores, we felt it was a great opportunity to create a new, distinctive design that took a holistic approach to the store from the perspective of our store team members and our guests. The result was our RT6K model: a 6,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art store that reflects our brand personality both inside and out.More

Alabama may triple cigarette tax
Alabama state lawmakers are currently reviewing a rough draft of the state's general fund budget — a picture House general fund budget chairman Steve Clouse, R-Ala., described as "bleak," he told the Associated Press. As such, the state legislature will consider not one, but two proposed increases to the current 42.5 cents-per-pack cigarette excise tax.More

USARHAW celebrates strength of National Volunteer Week
The Hawaii Army Weekly
Hundreds of organizations within the U.S. Army-­Hawaii community rely on the service of volunteers. Whether they are coaching youth sports, teaching family readiness workshops or helping at a hospital, the contributions volunteers make help to build a stronger USARHAW community.More

US Air Force song and dance group costs tax payers $2 million
News 96.5
The group "Tops in Blue" began performing in 1953, making it one of the oldest and most widely traveled entertainment groups of its kind, according to the Air Force Times. The group has an annual Congressional appropriation of $319,000. It's 2015 budget includes more than $1 million in MWR funds, which are designed to provide service members with entertainment and leisure activities. More