WASHINGTON -- Wegmans Food Markets won in all three categories of the Best Practices Awards, held here last week and sponsored by the Magazine Publishers of America and the International Periodical Distributors Association, both of New York.
This was the first time in the three-year history of the awards that such a sweep has occurred, according to an MPA spokeswoman. The awards for consistency and creativity in driving higher levels of magazine and book category development were given during the MPA's Retail Conference.
Wegmans took the honors for Excellence in Promotion and Cross Merchandising, Excellence in Checkout Merchandising, and Excellence in Category Management and Mainline Merchandising.
"The category is fun. We are dedicated to it," Donna Kittrell, category manager, told SN after receiving the awards.
Jerry Lynch, group business manager, attributed the success to the company's stores, wholesalers, publishers, national distributors, as well as to Kittrell. "It was a great all-around effort, and it's nice to have product that customers appreciate," he said.
Lynch and Kittrell declined to talk about what strategies contributed to the success of the retailer's program, but some clues were found in the presenters' remarks.
"Wegmans has a format that is consistent with the elegant displays in their stores," said Jay Wysong, executive vice president, Distribution Services Inc., West Palm Beach, Fla., in presenting the award for Checkout Merchandising. "Wegmans also integrates best-selling books at their checkstands, and does a terrific job with both."
"For a food retailer, you can tell they are in the book and magazine business," said Steve Burbridge, senior vice president, sales, Time Inc. Retail, New York, while giving the honor for Mainline Merchandising. "They have great presentation in the store [and] significant space in the stores. They do a great job of promotions for both books and magazines. They are displayed all full-faced with plenty of space to pack out the product."
Wal-Mart Stores, Bentonville, Ark., won awards for Promotion and Cross Merchandising and for Category Management and Mainline Merchandising. "If you believe that Wal-Mart has achieved its success on price only, I would argue that it is driven much more by the consumer ease of price-cutting recognition, freshness of promotions, creativity and execution, execution, execution," said George Fisher, vice president, retail sales, Random House, New York, as he presented the award for Promotion and Cross Merchandising.
Also receiving awards were Kroger Co., Cincinnati, for Checkout Merchandising; Giant Eagle, Pittsburgh, for Checkout Merchandising; Meijer, Grand Rapids, Mich., for Promotion and Cross Merchandising; and Barnes & Noble, New York, for Category Management and Mainline Merchandising.
"Kroger has a very large format for the main magazine unit. They've also integrated magazines with soda coolers and with self-checkout racks," said Wysong.
"Giant Eagle has integrated magazines with general merchandise and confection, integrated magazines on the cigarette kiosks and soda units, and placed smaller units in a consistent format at its self-checkout stations," Wysong added.
On Meijer, Fisher said, "At an in-store promotional book-signing, the appearance invites energy, excitement and enthusiasm in the store environment. Meijer utilizes a multitude of display outposts, which adds an extra-lively dimension to the display experience."