Supplier Spotlights: Ferrero USA, Gilbarco Veeder-Root & Rich Products
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:
The Alkaline Water Co.
The Alkaline Water Co. Inc. announced that its flagship brand, Alkaline88, will be available at all 258 Jacksons Food Stores Inc. stores across six western states and in all 108 Plaid Pantry Inc. stores, primarily located in the Portland, Ore., metro area.
"We continue to make steady progress penetrating the convenience store channel. In coordination with our partners, Capitol Distributing and Core-Mark, we now have a strong c-store foothold in the northwest for our flagship brand Alkaline88," said Richard Wright, president and CEO of The Alkaline Water Co. "I am happy to report that two prominent chains, Jacksons Food and Plaid Pantry, will start carrying our 3-liter and 1-liter bottles, respectively.
"This is a meaningful win for us, given the potential opportunity, especially for our line of single-serve products, including our eco-friendly aluminum bottles and A88 flavor-infused water. With a growing geographic footprint and a strong cash margin profile for our single-serve offerings, we expect the c-store channel to be a strong contributor toward our growth and our goal of being cash-flow positive by fiscal 2021," he concluded.
JDA Software Inc. changed its name to Blue Yonder as part of a rebranding initiative to better align the company's name with its cloud transformation and product roadmap. The new name comes with a new tagline: "Fulfill Your Potential."
"After great contemplation and research, we have come to the conclusion that our company brand needs to reflect the major transformation that our business has undergone in recent times. We have outgrown the name and it is time for us to rename the company," said Girish Rishi, CEO of Blue Yonder. "Today is a momentous, historical day for us, as our 5,000-plus global associates celebrate the success of a company that came to be 35 years ago and as we position ourselves for the journey beyond. As we start a new era with a brand name that represents the realities of today and the aspirations for the future, we are ensuring that our investments and execution embody the essential elements that bring huge value for our 3,300 customers and our partners globally."
JDA acquired Blue Yonder in August 2018. Evolving the JDA brand and name to Blue Yonder further supports the impact of artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies across the supply chain, logistics and retail markets, the company said.
D&H United Fueling Solutions
Private equity firm KLH Capital invested in D&H United Fueling Solutions, providing the company with more resources to expand and continue its growth.
"Our team is very pleased to partner with KLH. Combining our experience with KLH's financial and strategic resources will help take our company to the next level," said Bo Sasnett, CEO of D&H United Fueling Solutions. "This partnership will provide us with more resources to fuel our growth and provide even better support for our customers and vendors. In addition, our two companies share the same belief and value system which was an important factor in forming this partnership."
James Darnell, partner of KLH Capital, added: "D&H United has established itself as a leading service provider for vehicle fueling systems in the Southwest market. The company has had impressive growth over the last 4 years. We believe that merging the talents of the D&H United team with our resources will create a platform to take the company to the next level."
Ferrero USA Inc. opened a new distribution center in Goodyear, Ariz. The 643,798-square-foot facility is scheduled to begin operations by mid-March. Ferrero plans to add 50 local jobs within the center's first year of operation.
"Ferrero is investing in our presence and business in the U.S.," said Paul Chibe, president and CEO, Ferrero North America. "We're introducing new brands and innovations, hiring top talent, and opening state-of-the-art facilities like this new Goodyear distribution center, all of which will help us continue to fuel the confectionery category."
The Arizona facility follows the recent expansion of Ferrero's North American headquarters in Parsippany, N.J., the opening of a separate distribution center in Pennsylvania, and its assuming management of two manufacturing plants in Bloomington and Franklin Park, Ill.
"The rapid development of our supply chain helps drive strong growth for Ferrero," said Luca Robbiano, vice president, North America Supply Chain for Ferrero. "Our new facilities in Pennsylvania and now Arizona represent important milestones in the expansion of our logistics capabilities in the market."
GasBuddy launched a new "Deal Alerts" feature to its app that gives drivers below-advertised gas prices that are uniquely tailored to the individual based on factors such as location, retailer- and partner-funded discounts and frequency of app use. Consumers can access the feature by checking the GasBuddy app and using the Pay with GasBuddy card.
"We're embarking on one of our most significant product updates with the Deal Alerts feature," said GasBuddy CEO Sarah McCrary. "For nearly two decades GasBuddy has helped consumers save money by surfacing gas prices, and then more directly by introducing Pay with GasBuddy, a payments program that provides a fixed discount on every fill-up. Now with Deal Alerts, GasBuddy is doing the heavy lifting by piecing together ways to bring down the price for the consumer. At the end of the day: check the GasBuddy app, and save."
The first 10,000 people who sign up for Pay With GasBuddy will receive $5 in GasBack.
Gilbarco Veeder-Root (GVR) signed an investment agreement with Driivz, a provider of smart electric vehicle (EV) charging management solutions. Driivz is an intelligent cloud-based software platform that supports EV service providers with operations management, energy optimization, billing and roaming capabilities, as well as driver self-service apps.
The minority investment further expands GVR's EV capabilities to enable more comprehensive solutions for forecourts and fleet applications.
"This strategic partnership with Driivz expands Gilbarco Veeder-Root's e-Mobility platform with digital solutions for the electric vehicle charging market. As our customers look to the future, we continue to offer innovative solutions and remove hurdles for efficiently managing and developing EV charging infrastructure," said Gilbarco Veeder-Root President Aaron Saak. "Driivz technology is unlocking the future of energy management and we're excited to help grow this platform with new opportunities to support our customers and improve the end user experience of EV charging."
GSP purchased substantially all the assets of Lenexa, Kan.-based Custom Color Corp., whose president and CEO Matt Keith will join GSP's leadership team and continue to lead Custom Color as a division of its new parent company.
"We are proud to announce another exciting milestone in GSP's 42-year history," said GSP CEO Geoff Neuhoff. "Custom Color shares our vision and passion for innovation, quality and service. This merger allows us to expand our capabilities and better accommodate the demands of our growing customer base."
Custom Color's 100,000-square-foot facility features state-of-the-art digital production capabilities and supports graphics programs for leading national retail and consumer brands. It will become GSP's fourth production facility, allowing it to reduce lead times and minimize shipping costs.
"Just as we're expanding our existing operations in Florida, Wisconsin and Utah. GSP will be expanding the Custom Color operation through additional equipment investment and an increase in the workforce," Neuhoff said. "Both companies are lucky to service some of the best brands in retail and we are excited to see this merger translate into better results for their stores!"
InComm launched Go Studio, its innovation hub dedicated to developing emerging technologies for customer-centric products and solutions. It leverages expertise sourced from a collaborative, global network of internal resources as well as corporate and academic partners.
InComm's dedication to developing new solutions, including payments processing, customer loyalty and engagement solutions, will be channeled through Go Studio with a focus on emerging technologies, including mixed reality, blockchain, artificial intelligence, Internet of things, voice assistants and more.
"Changing customer behavior to facilitate adoption of emerging solutions is especially challenging if you're not immersing yourself in their encounters," said Brooks Smith, founder and CEO of InComm. "Go Studio will dive deep into the customer experience while ideating on emerging technologies to dramatically improve their journey."
In addition to a team of full-time staff members, InComm's Go Studio will work with colleges and universities around the world to provide students with an opportunity to participate in the ideation and implementation of new technology solutions. The studio will also host regular workshops, hackathons and other events to foster creativity and discussion in impacted industries.
Inline Plastics announced the integration of rDPET across its full product line, making the company the first food packaging manufacturer in the United States to develop high performing food-grade packaging material infused with post-consumer content born from recycling at the molecular level, known as chemical recycling.
By combining rDPET with the energy efficient proprietary manufacturing 'direct to sheet' process, the company will realize these environmental benefits in comparison to traditional PET:
- Diverts nearly a billion water bottles from the world's oceans and landfills annually;
- Uses over 50 percent less energy during material production; and
- Reduces the carbon footprint by 112,000 acres of forest or emissions equal to 233 million miles driven per year.
"This announcement signals a major step forward for our company, our commitment to sustainability and ongoing product innovation," said Tom Orkisz, chairman and CEO of Inline Plastics. "The integration of rDPET across all of our product lines was no small task; however, we know how important this solution was to our partners and their customers. Inline Plastics will continue our commitment to developing packaging solutions for a better planet."
ITW Food Equipment Group
ITW Food Equipment Group launched the Save Your Kitchen 2020 campaign giveaway. The fifth K-12 kitchen equipment makeover initiative features a fun Nashville music theme to coincide with the location of the School Nutrition Association's 2020 Annual National Conference. The contest is open to K-12 nutrition professionals in the 50 states and Washington, D.C.
Save Your Kitchen will provide free Traulsen and Hobart Kitchen equipment to four winning sweepstakes entrants.
Products offered in this year's giveaways include Traulsen refrigerators, a freezer and a milk cooler and a Hobart food processor, slicer, mixer and dishmachine. Different products may be available for specific drawings.
Nielsen's Global Connect business will leverage the AnswerRocket platform to automate and scale business intelligence and insights generation for the consumer packaged goods (CPG) manufacturers and retailers it serves around the world.
According to the company, AnswerRocket's analytics solution provides Nielsen with the means to efficiently scale insights generation using artificial intelligence and machine learning. The platform will advance Nielsen's ability to merge multiple data sources; query data using natural language; apply machine learning algorithms; and produce insightful stories to guide decisionmaking.
Additionally, AnswerRocket's pioneering RocketBots — advanced machine learning analysis bots — allow Nielsen to automate entire complex workflows, reducing the time it takes to conduct category overview analyses.
"CPG manufacturers and retailers depend on Nielsen Global Connect to provide the trusted data, solutions and insights that empower them to make bold business decisions," said Waqas Cheema, Nielsen's senior vice president and global head of client service delivery. "AnswerRocket will help us increasingly deliver on this commitment, unlocking valuable AI-driven capabilities that help us deliver faster, superior insights to our clients."
Rich Products kicked off its 75th year in business by expanding its product portfolio with three acquisitions: Pacific Northwest-based Rizzuto Foods, a leader in pizza dough innovation; Plymouth, Minn.-based Morey's Seafood international; and two manufacturing plants from Oak Brook, Ill.-based TreeHouse Foods, a manufacturer and distributor of private label breads, rolls and cakes.
These strategic additions position Rich Products for continued growth, innovation and long-term success, the company said.
"As we enter our 75th year, we remain as committed as ever to driving value for our customers," said Ray Burke, president and chief operating officer, Rich Products' U.S. Canada Region. "Expanding our product portfolio, adding greater capacity and fueling innovation are key pieces of our strategic acquisition efforts. These moves strengthen our position as a total solutions provider in today's rapidly evolving marketplace."
R.J. REYNOLDS VAPOR
R.J. Reynolds Vapor Co. celebrated the partnership between its Vuse brand and Arrow McLaren SP for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. On Feb. 7, Arrow McLaren SP unveiled its IndyCar contender for the 2020 series, which features the Vuse logo on the rear wing, chassis side and sidepod tops of the cars.
"We're excited to partner with Arrow McLaren SP. Vuse is committed to bringing world class technology, cutting edge performance and unique style to adult nicotine consumers, through fully customizable vaping options," said Leila Medeiros, U.S. head of Vuse. "Arrow McLaren SP is a perfect partner and we are very proud to extend and enhance our relationship over the years to come."
The promotion is part of a broader enhanced partnership between British American Tobacco (BAT), RJR's parent group, and McLaren. It follows a successful first year of global partnership with the McLaren Racing Formula 1 team, of which BAT is a Principal Partner. Vuse will also host engaging opportunities for select retail customers and consumers throughout the racing season and during key race weekends.
RONNOCO BEVERAGE SOLUTIONS
Ronnoco Beverage Solutions acquired Houston-based Trident Beverage, provider of healthy beverage and dispenser options to wellness-oriented foodservice establishments.
Trident President John Walker and Vice President Patrick Walker will maintain an investment stake in the company and continue to run the business with the goal of providing quality, healthy and novelty beverage items to the foodservice industry.
The acquisition furthers Ronnoco's mission and long-term vision to provide a one-stop coffee and beverage solution to fit every customer's needs, and complements the recent strategic name change from Ronnoco Coffee to Ronnoco Beverage Solutions following its acquisition of Beverage Solutions Group, the company said. It is Ronnoco's ninth acquisition.
"We view the addition of Trident Beverage as a combination of strengths, as we continue to strategically increase market share to better provide our partners with a one-stop, full line of beverage solutions," said Terry McDaniel, CEO of Ronnoco Beverage Solutions. "We are incredibly enthused to add John, Patrick and their dedicated team to advance our mission for continued growth and innovative expansion through our combined portfolio of high-quality products, brands and equipment focused on customer service and experience."
Trident has a strong foothold in the growing category of frozen drinks and cold beverage products, presenting an opportunity for Ronnoco to expand these offerings to the convenience channel, according to the announcement.
Victory Brewing Co. will bring the the characters from its Monkey family of beers to life in hopes of spreading much needed laughter to its fans through its 2020 marketing campaign. Its beer lineup includes Sour Monkey, Golden Monkey and Twisted Monkey.
The "monkeys" are here to remind us that quality does not have to be too serious, rather that it should be fun, the company said. The characters are designed to tell light-hearted and fun stories about the beers.
"With the intense political environment, social media craze and overwhelming noise within the craft segment, 2020 felt like the perfect time to introduce some much-needed laughter," says Bill Covaleski, co-founder of Victory Brewing Co. "The Monkeys have an innate light-hearted personality to fuel the fun and encourage drinkers to stop taking life too seriously. At the end of the day, our goal is to create delicious beers that help our customers escape the stress of everyday life and to transport them to a place of content. The Monkeys have earned their right in the craft industry to voice that reminder."