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02/08/2021

Supplier Spotlights: Aptos, General Mills & Skupos

NATIONAL REPORT — While it's important for convenience store retailers to market themselves, new products, services, promotions and other initiatives by c-store suppliers are a major part of capturing consumer interest. Convenience Store News will regularly highlight such efforts in this roundup.

Here are the latest supplier spotlights:

Applied Data

Applied Data Corp. (ADC) entered into an agreement to acquire ShopperKit Inc., enterprise-class software built for e-commerce retail fulfillment. This is a highly strategic addition to the ADC portfolio and will result in making ADC the leading software provider on the market for ordering, production and fulfillment, the company said.

ShopperKit will join ADC's product suite purpose-built for grocery and convenience store operators and will further enhance its platform offerings to empower food retailers with the tools they need to achieve a unified demand forecast from online to in-store. Additionally, ShopperKit will able to leverage ADC's investment in sales, marketing and software development to accelerate ShopperKit's growth.

"This is an exciting time in ADC history. The ShopperKit team and platform are helping retailers gain control of their in-store fulfillment strategies, a critical component required to maintain their digital brands," said Shamus Hines, CEO of ADC. "As a company, we are committed to enhancing all store operations for food retailers. The addition of ShopperKit will give our customers a unified approach to their omnichannel strategy while providing them with visibility into store operations with user-friendly products that help grow sales, cut costs, and improve operational efficiencies. This will allow ADC to expand our vision to include broad demand forecasting not just in fresh but also for the center aisles both in-store and online."

Aptos

Aptos entered into a definitive agreement to acquire LS Retail, a developer and provider of all-in-one software solutions for retail, hospitality, foodservice, pharmacy and forecourt businesses. LS Retail's solutions are sold, implemented and supported through a strategic global network of channel partners servicing more than 80,000 customer sites in more than 140 countries.

Together, the companies will create a retail technology powerhouse that is uniquely equipped to support retailers across all tiers, verticals and geographies with advanced and innovative unified commerce solutions, according to Aptos. The transaction is expected to close in February, after which LS Retail will operate as a standalone business unit within Aptos.

"LS Retail is an exceptionally run organization with world-class products, a growing and diverse customer base, and a strong network of nearly 400 local partners," said Aptos CEO Pete Sinisgalli. "The addition of a company of LS Retail's caliber to the Aptos family allows us to better fulfill our mission of delivering tangible benefits to our customers and the retail industry we serve, as it broadens our knowledge base and resources, extends our vertical capabilities, and expands our geographic coverage. Upon the acquisition's close, we look forward to providing Aptos' full support, scale and capital resources to the LS Retail leadership team, allowing them to take the business to new heights."

Financial Information Technologies

Financial Information Technologies LLC (Fintech) acquired data management and analytic provider Aperity, whose Beverage Data Exchange is the industry's first community-centric data solution, facilitating business insights between supply chain partners.

"As Fintech continues to revolutionize data resources for the beverage alcohol industry, the addition of Aperity makes perfect sense," said Sameer Mungur, chief data officer of Fintech. "Aperity's use of machine learning and AI, combined with its established data exchange, is an exciting addition to Fintech's InfoSource product suite. We look forward to the growth opportunities this acquisition will afford Fintech and our clients."

The Beverage Data Exchange will integrate with Fintech's existing data offerings and broaden its data platform. Fintech plans to use the Beverage Data Exchange's supply chain connectors and integration technology to provide the beverage alcohol industry with the most comprehensive universe of data from distributors, retailers, e-commerce and data syndicators.

"Our partnership with Fintech brings a wide network of distributors and suppliers to Aperity's Beverage Data Exchange, allowing us to leverage Fintech's vast industry resources to scale our best-of-breed data management and analytic solutions," said Brent Arslaner, chief revenue officer of Aperity. "We are passionate about serving our clients, and joining Fintech certainly aids in that mission."

General Mills

General Mills Convenience is using Feeding America's MealConnect platform to rally c-store operators to help combat food waste and feed people in need as food insecurity spikes in the United States. The mobile platform makes it easy for grocery stores, restaurants, farmers and food businesses to donate their good excess food to local charities in their communities.

To help c-store retailers use the MealConnect app to facilitate food donations, General Mills Convenience compiled numerous tools, including suggested social media posts and customizable in-store signage. Along with Feeding America, General Mills is also on standby to assist c-store retailers interested in participating by helping to identify what foods would be best for donation and how to get started.

"We know that c-stores are always looking for ways to give back to their communities while simultaneously trying to reduce food waste," said Jessica McMillan, marketing manager at General Mills Convenience. "Feeding America's MealConnect app offers c-stores a turnkey way to participate in a food recovery effort, curb food waste, and donate any surplus products or food items to help feed people facing hunger in their own community."

Examples of foods that c-stores may consider donating via the MealConnect app include:

  • Unsold, ready-to-eat sandwiches and wraps, salad or fresh fruit;
  • Hot food items such as pizza, chicken and hot dogs;
  • Fresh bakery items like donuts, muffins and danishes; and
  • Center-store goods close to their expiration dates.

GSTV

GSTV formed a new content partnership with WAVE.tv, a sports media company that reaches more than 200 million viewers and receives 3.9 billion views monthly across its portfolio of media brands. The partnership will include the distribution of unique and non-traditional sports highlights and user-generated content from six of WAVE.tv's most popular media brands.

"While our programming can be discovered across the core and emerging digital platforms where today's modern sports fans spend the most time, we are constantly looking for ways to grow the awareness of the WAVE.tv brand outside of social and digital," said Brain Verne, co-founder and CEO of WAVE.tv. "This is the first time WAVE.tv content will be visible to a wide audience outside of our platforms. We are thrilled to be partnering with GSTV, who is the perfect fit for our short-form sports content, and cannot wait to highlight a variety of sports fandoms with their national network."

WAVE.tv will provide GSTV with dedicated content segments to air across its 25,000 stations. The partnership also opens new opportunities for GSTV and WAVE.tv to work with brands looking to connect with a generation Z and millennial audience through sponsored content partnerships.

"WAVE.tv has mastered entertaining its viewers with captivating short form content, which is perfect for GSTV viewers who give us a few of their undivided moments of their attention while on the go," said Sean McCaffrey, GSTV president and CEO. "We know our audience responds enthusiastically to sports, e-sports and UGC, and we're delighted to share WAVE.tv's content with them as well as provide new sponsorship opportunities to advertisers looking to reach a Gen Z audience that natively loves and regularly consumes non-traditional sports content."

OPW Vehicle Wash Solutions

OPW, a Dover company, acquired Innovative Control Systems Inc. (ICS), a provider of technology solutions for the car wash industry. ICS will become part of OPW's Vehicle Wash Solutions platform of brands, which includes PDQ and Belanger.

"We are thrilled to bring ICS into OPW's Vehicle Wash Solutions group to provide customers state-of-the-art payment terminals and point-of-sale management solutions, wash site management software and other wash equipment technologies as part of a complete vehicle wash solutions package," said Gary Campbell, vice president and general manager for OPW Vehicle Wash Solutions.

Vehicle Wash Solutions and ICS previously partnered to develop a retrofit kit for PDQ's installed base of Access payment terminals at in-bay automatic sites to ensure those customers have access to EMV payment solutions and ongoing payment card industry compliance. This joint product is expected to launch in early 2021.

"By joining OPW, ICS can continue to expand its customer base and partner with the Vehicle Wash Solutions brands to bring innovative new products to market," said Kevin Detrick, founder and president of ICS. "Those ICS customers who do not use VWS equipment will continue to see our same focus on innovation and dedicated customer support. This is a great development for our business."

Skupos

Skupos launched a new website and rebrand in support of the company's continued expansion and to solidify its reputation as the go-to industry resource. The updates pave the way for Skupos to communicate how it is transforming convenience retail by uniting a previously fragmented market and creating revenue-generating opportunities for stores and consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies alike, the company said.

"Skupos has made strides over the past year in connecting our expanding retailer base to a growing ecosystem of CPG organizations," said Christine Shriver, Skupos' vice president of marketing. "The brand and website transformation reflect our evolving business, technological advances, and the value we add in driving revenue for both sides of this marketplace."

The new website is designed to evolve the user paths of both retailers and brands so each can find the content specific to their needs as well, as to increase the site's traffic and conversions. The rebrand is meant to highlight Skupos' approachable, sophisticated, and bold identity. It will be featured throughout the company's marketing materials and product platform, Skupos noted.

"As our business grows and we move from build mode to scale mode, we're now better positioned than ever to be what our customers need us to be," said Skupos co-founder and CEO Jake Bolling. "That's an achievement we can now effectively tell in our brand story and reinforces our reputation as a progressive partner and leader in this industry."

Talking Rain Beverage Co.

Talking Rain is partnering with terrapass, a leader in the carbon offset and renewable energy space, with a commitment to finding innovative ways to invest in the local community and build a sustainable future. The company plans to fund more than 28,000 metric tons of carbon reduction through the purchase of carbon offsets to address its natural gas use and fleet emissions in the United States. This year's partnership will address 100 percent of Scope 1 and 2 emissions.

"As a beverage company, we are committed to taking meaningful action to reduce the carbon footprint associated with our operations, while also advancing innovation and change when it comes to caring for the environment," said Talking Rain CEO Chris Hall. "In partnering with terrapass to identify and support impactful carbon reduction projects, we aspire to reduce our footprint over the next year and beyond, and to be an inspiration for other companies to follow suit."

In 2021, Talking Rain will support multiple impactful carbon reduction projects across the country through terrapass, including the Bear Creek Watershed Forest Carbon Project in Oregon, the Cambria 33 Abandoned Mine Methane Capture Project in Pennsylvania, and the South Kent Landfill Gas to Energy Project in Michigan. The carbon reductions funded by Talking Rain through this partnership are equivalent to taking 6,000 cars off the road for an entire year, planting 460,000 trees, powering more than 3,200 homes with renewable energy for a year, or recycling 1.1 million bags of trash, the company said.

"Climate change is a real and immediate threat," said Karra Marino, vice president of terrapass. "Concern over the health of our planet has grown well beyond the confines of environmental groups to include everyday consumers and businesses, like Talking Rain, who realize how critical it is to act now to reduce their carbon footprint. We are proud to work with Talking Rain as a partner in carbon mitigation and environmental preservation. And, in supporting projects that reduce carbon emissions and generate renewable energy, together, we're powering the innovation and growth we need to transition to a low carbon economy of the future."

Utz

Utz Quality Foods LLC, a subsidiary of Utz Brands Inc., entered into a definitive agreement with Snak-King Corp. to acquire certain assets related to the Vitner's brand for $25 million, subject to customary purchase price adjustments. These assets include intellectual property, such as the Vitner's trademark, as well as direct store delivery (DSD) distribution assets related to Vitner's branded products.

Established in 1926, Vitner's is an iconic Chicago-area brand whose approximately 55 DSD routes will provide Utz a strengthened foothold in Chicago and the Midwest from which to further grow the presence of its power brands, according to the company.

Utz plans to transition manufacturing of most Vitner products to its own manufacturing plants after the transaction closes.

"This strategic acquisition will make Utz a more significant competitor in the Chicago area. Combined with our recently announced acquisition of the On the Border tortilla chip, salsa and queso brand, we create a strong brand platform to better serve the primary salty snack channels and continue to expand rapidly in this important growth market. This transaction is a continuation of our strategy to successfully build long-term value and share by expanding in major metropolitan areas, like we did in New York City in 1994, Boston in 2004, Pittsburgh in 2006 and Atlanta in 2011," said Utz CEO Dylan Lissette.

"This acquisition strengthens our competitive position and will be a spark for continued growth in the Midwest. We are confident this transaction will drive long-term value creation for our shareholders and help position Utz for continued long-term growth," he added.