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    PG Retailer of the Year: Healthy Commitment Runs Deep

    By Meg Major, EnsembleIQ

    PG's 2014 Retailer of the Year coverage continues with Ahold USA's COO James McCann and its four division leaders discussing the Better Neighbor promise in action.

    Giving back to the communities is a cornerstone instilled by the founders at all of the Ahold USA divisions, which together operate roughly 770 supermarkets and 200 pickup points in 14 states, along with Peapod, the company’s online grocery shopping/delivery service.

    Says Giant Landover President Gordon Reid: “From hunger relief efforts to helping improve the health of our communities’ youngest residents, we are committed to doing all that we can to be a better neighbor through product and financial contributions, as well as volunteering our time.” While the Maryland-based division’s core areas of giving have long included anti-hunger, education, and health and wellness, it has also in recent years expanded its support of programs and initiatives for members of the military and their families.

    Last year, Giant Landover’s monetary and in-kind contributions for all community relations efforts across Washington, D.C.; Maryland; Virginia; and Delaware exceeded $13.3 million. “We are very proud of our longstanding philanthropic programs, including our annual September Hunger Action Month campaign to support local food banks, and our school fundraising through our A+ School Rewards program, which has raised a total of $90 million for over 2,000 local schools,” notes Reid. “We also support the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center and the Children’s Cancer Foundation through our Triple Winner program to benefit pediatric cancer research.”

    Charitable giving roots run equally deep at Giant/Martin’s, whose president, Tom Lenkevich, similarly affirms the Carlisle, Pa.-based division’s “long commitment to feeding the hungry and helping children in our local communities,” a mission that starts “with our associates in the stores. They make it all happen,” says Lenkevich. “It’s just tremendous to see the enthusiasm of our store teams, who are the foundation of our efforts.”

    In addition to working with hundreds of local organizations to help raise the “healthy communities” bar, “we constantly ask ourselves, ‘How can we help bring good health to those around us? What more can we do?’” Lenkevich notes.

    As his division is one of the top 10 fundraisers in the country for local Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) hospitals, Lenkevich is especially gratified by Giant/Martin’s special relationship with its local hospital affiliates.

    Don Sussman, president of the Stop & Shop New York Metro division, is also “enormously proud to be part of the team that is forcing pediatric cancer to retreat.” In place for 26 years, “Triple Winner has become a campaign that has saved lives, created research paths and provided genuine hope to families waiting for a cure,” says Sussman. “There is now a proud and growing Triple Winner family of young people who have a bright future because we have been able to put dollars into cancer research. I can’t think of a better reward for everyone who continues to make this campaign a success.”

    Storm Centers

    When it comes to community engagement, no single event supersedes the impact created by Superstorm Sandy in 2012. “This was far beyond anything we had experienced in our lifetimes,” affirms Sussman, a Long Island native who’s intimately familiar with many of the hardest-hit areas. “Conditions in many communities were desperate, and in many places the local grocery store was the only place to get food.

    “That said,” Sussman continues, “we lost power in 120 of our 182 stores. Beyond that, we had four totally flooded stores, which we managed to reopen in 10 days. I can’t tell you how proud I was of our people, who worked around the clock for the six weeks after the devastation of Sandy to help minimize the hardships of others. And in many cases, our own associates and their families were enduring many hardships of their own.”

    McCann is also astonished at associates’ instinctive willingness to unfalteringly answer whatever call comes their way, including the above-and-beyond post-Sandy efforts, which produced “a great sense of satisfaction for all involved. Throughout this company, we have a vast number of people for whom the good work is deeply embedded,” says McCann, noting that it’s a virtually “effortless process” to assemble the troops and resources to spring into action. “It just happens, and we see it every time there’s an opportunity for our associates to step up.” In the devastating aftermath of Sandy, he recalls: “Our associates were feeding neighborhoods and providing water, and other desperately needed electricity and other services. Nobody told them to do it; they just took it upon themselves. And we see the same thing in small, medium and large ways all the time. Whenever our associates see the need or opportunity, they are unequaled” in their readiness to respond.

    For his part, Stop & Shop New England President Joe Kelley also never ceases to be amazed by the charitable efforts displayed by his division’s family of associates, be it through time or monetary and/or food donations, “which has and always will be a top priority for us as a company.”

    That’s an especially important cause worth celebrating in 2014, when Stop & Shop is commemorating a truly significant milestone: its 100th anniversary. “It also marks an achievement that would not have been possible without the dedication of our associates and our customers pushing us to succeed over the past 100 years,” during which time “we’ve operated our business with a single goal in mind: delivering unmatched selection, quality, value and service. I’m proud to say that commitment continues,” notes Kelley.

    For Ahold USA to remain responsive, relevant and successful, he adds, “We need to continue to test and deliver innovations that enhance a customer’s shopping experience,” the central ingredient of which is the company’s talented teams. “In my experience, investing in people — giving them the training and encouragement, and offering honest feedback — is, far and away, the best investment you can make. There is no substitute for motivated people who feel part of a team, with a common mission.”

    More of PG's exclusive interview with Ahold USA's COO James McCann can be found in related stories, including "PG Retailer of the Year: ‘Centerpieces of the Community’."

    By Meg Major, EnsembleIQ
    • About Meg Major Veteran supermarket industry journalist Meg Major brings a wealth of experience to her role as Chief Content Editor of Progressive Grocer. In addition to her editorial duties, Major also spearheads the retail food industry’s premier women’s leadership recognition platform, Top Women in Grocery. Follow her on Twitter at @Meg_Major, connect with her on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/megmajor, or email her at [email protected]

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