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Bi-Lo Holdings recently hosted a category review at Efficient Collaborative Retail Marketing's (ECRM) Snack & Dry Grocery event, which included vetting candidates for its supplier diversity program. Leaders from the Jacksonville, Fla.-based retailer, which operates approximately 800 stores under the Bi-Lo, Harveys and Winn-Dixie banners, met with more than 70 suppliers over three days, including potential participants in its supplier diversity program, which aims to develop beneficial, long-term and successful partnerships with minority-, women- and veteran-owned businesses.
“We operate in one of the most diverse areas of the country," explained Derek Lott, senior director of supplier diversity at Bi-Lo Holdings. "Our desire is to provide products and services that reflect this diversity,”
Diversity suppliers met with three Bi-Lo Holdings buyers in attendance at ECRM’s event that took place last month in Jacksonville, according to Kate Armstrong, supplier diversity manager at Bi-Lo Holdings. “This most recent ECRM experience bridges the diversity compliance work that we do with the normal retail/buying process," noted Armstrong, adding, "It’s a real game changer for us. We are planning to introduce more diverse suppliers in several upcoming ECRM events, and more importantly, we are partnering with ECRM to produce several events specifically tailored to the diverse supplier community.”
ECRM’s Snack & Dry Grocery Efficient Program Planning Session (EPPS) hosted more than 70 businesses to present their snack and dry grocery products for the opportunity to be featured in Bi-Lo Holdings' three supermarket banners across eight southeastern states. Through Bi-Lo Holdings' event participation, the retailer engaged new suppliers, strengthened relationships with local suppliers, and identified new food and beverage products relevant to its consumers.
“For more than 20 years ECRM has brought buyers and sellers together during our EPPS events, and what we have learned over time is the one on one meeting format can be customized to fit each individual attendee need,” said Sarah Sweitzer, SVP of grocery at Solon, Ohio-based ECRM. “We talk to the attendees, understand their objectives and then utilize our technology, database and meeting format to create an event formatted to their needs. We are very excited be a part of Bi-Lo Holdings’ supplier diversity initiatives.”
Bi-Lo Holdings, LLC is the fifth-largest conventional supermarket chain in the U.S. and the second-largest conventional supermarket in the southeast, based on store count. The company employs more than 72,000 associates who serve customers in nearly 800 grocery stores, 144 liquor stores and 530 in-store pharmacies throughout Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.