CHICAGO -- IGA here said last week it plans to launch two new retail formats this year and to begin an assessment program of its wholesale distributors' warehouse facilities next year.
Speaking at a special session marking IGA's 75th anniversary at last week's Food Marketing Institute convention here, Jim Fenzel, vice president of IGA USA, said the two new formats will be a neighborhood destination store called Everyday IGA and a convenience store format called IGA Express -- both imports from Australia.
According to Fenzel, "Everyday IGA will combine the variety and selection of a full-sized supermarket into a more user-friendly format through a carefully focused selection of national and IGA-branded products -- what I like to call a 'solutions store' -- while IGA Express is our version of the convenience store, featuring essential, traditional food items with upper-end snack, beverage and confectionary items."
He said Everyday IGA will be a niche store of 10,000 to 15,000 square feet "in which a well-focused supermarket operator can deliver what his neighborhood needs. I don't believe the supermarket industry has focused on independent retailers of this size for a long time."
Duane Martin, IGA executive vice president, said the distribution-center assessment program is an outgrowth of IGA's annual store assessment effort that began in 1997. That program is designed to help retailers improve their operations and profitability through better food-handling techniques and lower shrink, he explained.
"In 2002 we're going to begin assessing the distribution centers of our U.S. wholesalers -- something both our retailers and the board of IGA USA have asked for," Martin said.
Another outgrowth of the store assessment program is the ability of IGA retailers to benchmark their performance against their peers, Martin added.
"We realized that our standards and measurement process generated an incredible amount of data," he said, "and when you add in scan data, Spectra Market data and data from AC Nielsen, we can provide our retailers with information they can use in their day-to-day decisions, with the ability to measure their performance against themselves and other stores in the alliance.
"This benchmarking process is one of the true strengths of our alliance that is allowing our retailers to learn and grow," Martin said.
According to Fenzel, the ability to benchmark "also enables us to offer potential IGA retailers real and well-grounded expectations for growth."
Also speaking at the session, Thomas S. Haggai, chairman and chief executive officer of IGA, said IGA anticipates "a breakthrough in California," although he declined to provide details.
During his presentation, Martin said IGA plans to regionalize its national marketing programs and events beginning next year "so they are appropriate for each store and its community."
Explore the Store, a first-quarter national sales event with a space exploration theme endorsed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. IGA is working with several manufacturers to create up to 1,800 scholarships to the U.S. Space and Rocket Camp "that will provide an opportunity for each IGA store to offer a local child the ability to earn a space camp scholarship."
Hometown Green, an environmentally focused sales event in the second quarter that allows each retailer to tailor promotional displays and environmental projects to local community needs.
A new private-label program called Cereal Daze that will involve a computer manufacturer who can provide computer systems to local schools in conjunction with the IGA cereal promotion.
Kidsfest, a summer promotion in which IGA will form an alliance for the first time with Lego toys to develop a series of customized Lego premiums that will be available exclusively to IGA retailers at strategic times during the year.
A Million Gallon Challenge featuring IGA-brand apple juice, designed to deliver cash to local children's charities through IGA retail stores.
A new Hometown Kids Club that IGA plans to launch nationally next year -- a program that will tie in with major manufacturers and companies like McDonald's and Toys 'R' Us to create a national year-round event, according to Fenzel.
Hometown Holidays, a year-end event celebrating cooking at home. IGA plans to create a strategic partnership with Taste of Home cooking schools to conduct 25 IGA-sponsored cooking schools strategically situated around the country. IGA and Taste of Home also plan to conduct a national cooking event, with winners receiving free trips around the country.
"That's been our goal since J. Frank Grimes [IGA's founder] 'explored tomorrow' 75 years ago as IGA became the first national banner. And exploring tomorrow is what we've been doing as we worked hard to become the first global banner," Haggai said.