Dear Loyal Readers:

Here it is the middle of October, fall is officially here and here in Chicago we have had our first frost. Baseball is still trying to figure out who will play in the World Series (not as interested as my Cubs went quietly into the night) but my Bears are looking up. What a difference a year makes. Speaking of differences, in a recent article in Leadership and Management, noted author Naphtali Hoff discussed the decrease in productivity at all levels of management. The decrease is primarily due to sending and receiving e-mails, social media etc. Having seen the decreases, here are some of his tips for Improving Your and Your staffs productivity. Since they all start with the Letter S to help you remember them, Start here:

Stop – This may seem to be the exact opposite of productivity. But if we want to get lots done, we need to stop and reflect on such questions as what we’re here to achieve, how best to get things done, why this work is important and how to do it in a way that maximizes our strengths and abilities.

Segment and celebrate – Break down your goals into bite-size goals. This can help us accomplish more tasks, which helps build momentum. Celebrating small victories gives you the fortitude to keep plugging away.

Simplify – The simpler and less complex something is, the easier it is to accomplish.

(Get) Serious – Hold yourself to account — or better, find someone else to hold you accountable to those goals.

Snooze (your devices) – Block out time for email, social media posting and other noncritical tech tasks so that you can be fully present for what you need to do. And finally:

Smile – It has a ripple effect, and positivity energizes everyone! To learn more about these and other concepts to improve your productivity, contact me or any of my American Recruiters colleagues, and we will be happy to assist. Use your Snooze Time to enjoy American Recruiters Global Foodservice News. The information is a sure way to increase your productivity.

Craig Wilson


________________________________________________________________________________________Chef Kwame Onwuachi is Opening a Cheesesteak Shop in Navy Yard

Since coming to DC, chef Kwame Onwuachi has experimented with elaborate tasting menus at the short-lived Shaw Bijou and modern Afro-Caribbean fare at his Wharf restaurant, Kith and Kin. But there’s a humbler set of foods the Top Chef alum keeps returning to: cheesesteaks, crispy chicken, and waffle fries. He’ll open Philly Wing Fry—a fast-casual restaurant devoted to those dishes—inside the South Capitol Hill Whole Foods Market. Both debut on Thursday, October 18th. “These are items that I can eat everyday,” says Onwuachi, who first launched Philly Wing Fry as a brief pop-up at Union Market two years ago. “It’s a concept that I had so much fun with, and I can’t wait to open this again.” The restaurant-within-a-grocery is part of the national Friends of Whole Foods program, which brings local chefs and lifestyle brands in to operate their own shops within the chain. Unlike Kaz Okochi, who’ll have a quick-grab sushi counter in the prepared foods section of the new shop, Onwuachi’s eatery is more like a full-blown restaurant with its own space and seating. Customers can order the full menu inside the store’s SoCap Wine Bar & Pub, which will pour 16 wines by the glass and a dozen draft beers (the shop itself will have seasonal teas and lemonades). Waffle fries get a kick from Ethiopian berbere spice. Philly Wing Fry’s food also isn’t exactly what you’d expect to find at a grocery store—or in Philly for that matter. Onwuachi calls his creative riff on the sandwich a “thoughtful cheesesteak.” He uses Roseda Farms ribeye from Maryland that’s dry-aged for a minimum of 50 days, as well as a local Lyon Bakery bun that’s toasted in the dry-aged beef fat. The sandwich is finished off with melty smoked provolone—sorry, no canned Whiz—house sauce, and two styles of onions (caramelized and pickled). There’s also a new vegetarian version with crispy mushrooms, spicy ‘shroom spread, herbed yogurt, and pickled chilies. The rest of the menu draws from the chef’s African and Caribbean background: waffle fries dusted with Ethiopian berbere spice, and tamarind-glazed wings. The fifth DC location of Whole Foods—and the first-ever in Southeast—also partnered with a number of other local producers. Look for Ice Cream Jubilee, Whisked! pies, M’Panadas, and more.  – Source: Washingtonian.

Trian Fund Evaluates Takeover Bid for Papa John’s: WSJ

Nelson Peltz’ Trian Fund Management LP is evaluating a takeover bid for Papa John’s International Inc., the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter. The activist hedge fund recently contacted the pizza chain to collect information as it explores a possible bid, according to the report. The world’s third-largest pizza delivery company had reached out to potential acquirers for offers, Reuters reported last month. Shares of the company were up 12.6 percent in extended trading. Papa John’s has come under pressure from founder John Schnatter, who resigned as chairman in July following reports that he used a racial slur on a media training conference call. Since then, Schnatter has been seeking ways to regain control. Papa John’s and Trian Fund declined to comment on the report. – Source: Reuters.

Yum! Brands Promotes Chawla to President of Pizza Hut International

Vipul Chawla has been promoted to president of Pizza Hut International, effective Dec. 3. He will succeed Milind Pant, who will step down at the end of November to pursue opportunities outside of the company. Mr. Chawla has been with Pizza Hut for seven years, most recently as managing director of Pizza Hut Asia-Pacific. Earlier, he was general manager of Pizza Hut Asia as well as chief marketing officer of KFC Asia. Prior to joining Yum! Brands in 2011, he spent 20 years at Unilever P.L.C. in various leadership positions. “Vipul Chawla is an extraordinarily talented leader and highly respected global marketer with a proven track record of growing Pizza Hut across the Asia-Pacific region with our franchise partners,” said Greg Creed, chief executive officer of Yum! Brands, the parent company of Pizza Hut. “He’s the ideal person to take Pizza Hut International to the next level by ensuring that each market has strong operations and digital execution in place, offers compelling value and consistently communicates the brand positioning. I’m confident Vipul and his team are well positioned for a seamless transition and will continue to build on the strengths of Pizza Hut with our franchisees.” Source: Yum! Brands.

Real Mex Restaurants Buyer Names New CEO, CFO

FM Restaurants HoldCo, LLC, an affiliate of Z Capital Group, LLC, a leading alternative asset manager of opportunistic, value-oriented private equity and credit funds, announced the appointments of Randy Sharpe as Chief Executive Officer and Ned Algeo as Chief Financial Officer. With nearly two decades of regional and national management experience at a variety of multi-concept restaurant chains, Sharpe brings deep operational expertise to FM Restaurants. Most recently, he served as Senior Vice President of Operations at Romano’s Macaroni Grill, a casual dining chain specializing in Italian cuisine, where he oversaw the restaurant operations (including menu development and vendor relations) and improvement of more than 80 company-owned and more than 20 franchised locations across the country. Prior to that, he served as Vice President of Operations for Real Mex Restaurants, where he managed the operations of the company’s casual dining concepts El Torito, Chevys Fresh Mex, and Acapulco. Algeo joins FM Restaurants with a strong track record of financial discipline and exemplary leadership at prominent companies in the restaurant, food and beverage, consumer products and telecommunications industries. He previously served as the Senior Director of Finance and interim Chief Financial Officer of Real Mex Restaurants from 2016 through June 2017, during which time the company achieved consistent year-over-year positive same-store sales growth and outperformed the casual dining industry index in California.

Most recently, Algeo served as Vice President of Finance at Mobilitie, the largest privately held telecommunications infrastructure company in the United States. “Randy and Ned are the right people to build out the FM Restaurants team and we are thrilled to partner with them as we pursue investment opportunities in the restaurant space,” says James Zenni, Z Capital’s president and Chief Executive Officer. “I look forward to working closely with them to execute on our strategic growth objectives as we look to expand key brand initiatives, complete strategic acquisitions and grow our national footprint.” “Throughout my career, I have focused on driving improvements at leading restaurant chains through best-in-class operational and organizational efficiency practices,” says Sharpe. “As the restaurant industry and particularly the casual dining sector continue to evolve, I look forward to working with Jim, Rahul, Ned and the rest of the exceptional leadership team to identify and execute on the opportunities that will further elevate our brands and position them for long-term growth and success.” Algeo adds, “FM Restaurants is entering an exciting stage of growth and reinvestment, and I look forward to working closely with Randy to implement a financial infrastructure that will allow us to provide unmatched resources and support to our flagship brands.” “We are pleased to welcome Randy and Ned, who have the operational expertise, creative vision and deep understanding of the restaurant industry to steer the company forward,” says Rahul Sawhney, Senior Managing Director of Z Capital. “With prior executive management experience at Real Mex Restaurants, and with the support of Z Capital’s extensive resources and expertise, they are well-positioned to lead the FM Restaurants team to execute its strategy of acquiring and enhancing industry-leading brands.”

FM Restaurants, which is an affiliate of Z Capital, has been approved as the buyer in the court-supervised auction for certain assets of Real Mex Restaurants. Source: fsrmagazine.

John Maguire, New COO of MOD Pizza

John Maguire has joined MOD Super Fast Pizza Holdings, L.L.C. as chief operating officer, effective Oct. 22. In this role, he will lead the company’s store operations across more than 380 MOD Pizza locations and will be tasked with expansion and growth. Mr. Maguire was previously president and chief executive officer of FIC Restaurants Inc., operator of Friendly’s restaurants. He assumed this position in 2012 and subsequently took on the role of president and c.e.o. of Johnny Rockets Group in 2016 in addition to his position with FIC. Before that, Mr. Maguire spent 20 years at Panera Bread Co. in various retail operations roles, the last six of which were spent as executive vice-president and c.o.o. During his time with Panera, he oversaw more than 1,500 bakery cafes and built more than 700 new locations. “As a leader at Panera during their formative years of growth combined with his experience leading two loved brands, John brings the perfect mix of deep operating expertise combined with experience sustaining the culture required to build an iconic brand,” said Scott Svenson, co-founder and c.e.o. of MOD Pizza. “Most importantly, though, John lives the values and beliefs at the heart of MOD. The thing that most attracted him was our commitment to using our business as a platform to make a positive impact on our people and the communities we serve. We could not be more thrilled to welcome him and are confident that his track record of leading operations across large, multi-unit brands will allow us to further strengthen the MOD experience.” – Source: Food Business News.

Shake Shack Names John Karangis Executive Chef

Shake Shack has appointed John Karangis to the newly created position of executive chef and vice president of culinary innovation, effective Oct. 29. Previously, Karangis spent seven years as executive chef for New York City-based Union Square Events, the catering and events arm of Union Square Hospitality Group, a sister company of Shake Shack. Before that he worked in the kitchens of two other USHG properties, Union Square Cafe and Gramercy Tavern. Karangis (left) will oversee culinary innovation at the chain of nearly 200 locations worldwide, and will work alongside the chain’s culinary director, Mark Rosati, “who continues to lead global culinary partnerships and develops localized menus with premier chefs and artisanal producers,” Shake Shack said in a release announcing Karangis’ appointment. Apart from regular product innovation, including the introduction of Shake Shack’s award-winning fried chicken sandwich, the Chick’n Shack, Rosati has overseen limited-time collaborations with celebritychefs including Daniel Boulud, Zaiyu Hasegawa, Fergus Henderson, Daniel Humm and Rosio Sanchez. Karangis and Rosati will be based in the chain’s new Innovation Kitchen opened last month at a Shake Shack in Manhattan. “Shake Shack is more committed than ever to growth, evolution and culinary excellence,” CEO Randy Garutti said in a statement. “With the recent addition of our innovation kitchen, we are acutely focused on further developing a thoughtful and exciting menu for our guests. I couldn’t think of a better chef than John to lead us there. I’ve known John for a long time and his experience and expertise will add tremendous value.” Karangis said in a statement that he was looking forward to his new position. “I’m thrilled to join the team at Shake Shack, a beloved culinary institution whose food has won the hearts of so many around the world,” he said. “I look forward to infusing the experience I’ve gained over my career to further innovate and enhance what Shake Shack already does so well.” For the quarter ended June 27, 2018, Shake Shack recorded same-store sales growth of 1.1 percent and a net income growth of 29.2 percent. – Source: NRN.

F.D.A. Gives Guidance on Preventing Food Supply Attacks

The Food and Drug Administration on June 19 began issuing draft guidance designed to help industry comply with the Intentional Adulteration (I.A.) Rule under the agency’s Food Safety Modernization Act. The I.A. Rule addresses hazards that intentionally may be introduced to foods, including by acts of terrorism, with the intent to cause widespread harm to public health. The I.A. Rule requires the food industry to implement risk-reducing strategies for processes in food facilities that are significantly vulnerable to intentional adulteration.

The first compliance date for the largest facilities is July 2019. The draft guidance released June 19 marks the first of three installments. It includes chapters on components of the food defense plan, how to conduct vulnerability assessments, how to identify and implement mitigation strategies, and food defense monitoring requirements. The guidance released June 19 may be found here. The other guidance installments will come out later this year. The second installment will focus more specifically on vulnerability assessments and training requirements. The third installment will give details on corrective action, verification, reanalysis and recordkeeping requirements. The F.D.A. will hold a public meeting on the draft guidance when the second installment is released. “This is new regulatory territory for both the F.D.A. and industry,” said Scott Gottlieb, M.D., commissioner of the F.D.A. “We’ve engaged directly with stakeholders while drafting this guidance to understand their perspectives and any concerns they have about complying with this rule. We’ve listened to their valuable feedback. Much of that feedback is reflected in the draft guidance we’re releasing today, as well as in the next two parts of the guidance. “For example, we heard consistently from a variety of stakeholders that the rule needed to be practical and that facilities needed flexibility when conducting vulnerability assessments. The draft guidance reflects this approach.

The new guidance illustrates different ways that each facility can meet the requirements of the rule, and the guidance provides a range of options for identifying and reducing vulnerabilities.” – Source: Food Business News.

All Units Shuttered in Washington, D.C., Chicago

The 19-unit Taylor Gourmet hoagie chain filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceedings on Thursday after closing all of its locations in the Washington, D.C. area and Chicago earlier in the week. According to court documents, the liquidation leaves 50 to 99 creditors, but no funds would be available to unsecured creditors after administration expenses were paid. The company estimated assets between $1 million and $10 million and liabilities between $10 million and $50 million. The move comes after private-equity firm KarpReilly LLC reportedly pulled its $5.6 million investment after three years. Taylor Gourmet in 2015 had 10 units when it won the backing of KarpReilly, which has a large restaurant portfolio, including Burger Lounge, California Fish Grill, Café Zupas, Eureka and Superba Food + Bread. KarpReilly also recently agreed to sell another early-growth concept it had invested in: Patxi’s Pizza in San Francisco is in the process of being acquired by Elite Restaurant Group, owner of the Slater’s 50/50 and Daphne’s chains. Neither KarpReilly nor Casey Patten, Taylor Gourmet’s co-CEO, responded to requests for comment. In an earlier report in the Washington Business Journal, Patten said he was considering three restaurant closures, saying the chain had grown too rapidly. Patten also cited increased fast-casual competition and higher real estate prices. He said some locations were larger than they needed to be. Other sources, however, reportedly blamed the fallout after Patten met with President Donald Trump at a small business roundtable at the White House in January 2017, according to the Washingtonian. Patten, who described himself as apolitical, said the chain suffered a backlash and calls for a boycott. One source said sales declined 40 percent the day after the roundtable. A spokesman, however, told the Washingtonian that the chain rebounded after the controversy. – Source: Restaurant Hospitality.

Nekter Juice Opening 30 Restaurants in Florida, Maryland, Tennessee, DC

Nekter Juice Bar has signed its largest area development agreement with 2ndHarvest LLC to open 30 restaurants during the next few years in existing markets of Florida and Tennessee and in two new markets, Maryland and Washington, D.C., according to a company press release. Based in Miami, 2ndHarvest LLC plans to open its first Nekter Juice Bar in Florida by the end of Q1 2019.  The multi-state franchise agreement comes as Nekter Juice Bar continues to grow rapidly across the country. Now with 120 restaurants across 13 states, Nekter plans to open an additional 20 restaurants before the end of this year, with another 75 scheduled to open in 2019, and an additional 175 in varying stages of development. “This record franchise agreement with 2ndHarvest LLC is a testament to Nekter Juice Bar’s growing leadership position within the juice bar category,” said Steve Schulze, co-founder and CEO, Nekter Juice Bar. “The partnership brings together two organizations that seek to make health and wellness accessible and affordable, with like-minded cultures that always put the consumer first. We look forward to working with the 2ndHarvest team to bring the Nekter Life to more communities across the country.” Three fitness and wellness industry veterans, Gerry Norman, Jon Norman and C.J. Bouchard, own 2ndHarvest. Bouchard is the current COO of Excel Fitness Holdings, which controls more than 60 Planet Fitness locations in Texas, North Carolina, Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Virginia. Previously, he was an operating partner of 17 Planet Fitness locations in North Carolina and a co-owner of Zaniac Learning Center also in North Carolina. Jon and Gerry Norman were Planet Fitness franchisee owners in Miami, Florida. “Nekter Juice Bar continues to disrupt and evolve a category that had veered from a 100 percent authentic experience,” Bouchard said. “The brand continues to demonstrate an unwavering commitment to offering a truly healthy dining option that both educates and inspires its guests to incorporate balance and wellness into their lives. We look forward to being a part of Steve’s vision to make Nekter Juice Bar the leading juice bar brand in the country.” – Source: FastCasual.

Grooming the Next Generation of Restaurant Managers

If the National Restaurant Association’s apprentice program is any indication, in the future, restaurant managers will defy the industry’s high turnover rate. The program, run by the NRA’s Educational Foundation (NRAEF), boasts a 94 percent retention rate. As it turns out, plenty of restaurant workers see themselves on the managerial track. While most apprentice programs address the culinary aspect, National Hospitality Sector Registered Apprenticeship Project, a partnership between the NRAEF, the American Hotel & Lodging Association and the Department of Labor, focuses on the managerial aspect of the industry. Designed to address the managerial aspect of the hospitality industry, the program works with restaurants to ready their current workers to move from entry level to managers. When the program began just over two years ago, the NRAEF initially intended to train 400 workers. Now, there are 1,000 people who have enrolled. “While the average age of restaurant manager apprentices is currently 29, we’re still in the early stages of the program. We believe the average age will trend younger as the program grows, but it’s important for us to serve people of all ages,” said John Shortt, director of program development, NRAEF. Currently, 22 percent of participants are between 18 and 24 years old. “The apprenticeship program definitely helped me learn more management skills that made me feel more comfortable with my end goal,” said Cassidy Hubbard, a sous chef at Iron Hill Brewery, Newark, Del., enrolled in the program. “I feel that I can open up my own place down the road. I know that by the time I reach the end of it I will know leaps and bounds more than I gained through my mostly culinary-focused degree.” – Source: NRN/The National Restaurant Association.

Breaking Down Language Barriers in Foodservice

Offering training materials in multiple languages can help break down language barriers in foodservice, and language learning opportunities can assist with employee retention and promote cultural awareness that can strengthen a restaurant’s entire team. To bridge the gap between languages, a glossary of 50 or so common words and their translations can offer a strong foundation, according to Rosario Gonzalez, who manages translations for the National Restaurant Association, overseeing the translation of the association’s content into more than 25 different languages. Take care with translations. Including visuals in training materials is always recommended, but Gonzalez said images are especially important for translated materials. Regional nuances across one language can mean there are multiple translations for one word.

For example, the word for a drinking straw “is actually different in every Spanish-speaking country,” she said. When creating longer manuals or training programs, it’s important to “find a translation vendor…that you trust and build a relationship with them,” said Gonzalez, who oversaw the translation of all training materials and curricula used by McDonald’s before going to work with the National Restaurant Association. Finding a translation company that is well-versed in foodservice terminology and working with them for all translations helps ensure a consistent, high-quality end product — no matter what language it’s in. Providing training materials in a language that employees can understand obviously has practical benefits for learning the ins and outs of their current job, but having translated materials can also open new career pathways in foodservice. Language education opens doors for employees. The lack of bartender training materials in Spanish has been an “unsolvable, irreconcilable problem for a long time,” bar manager Aaron Polsky told the Los Angeles Times earlier this year. While working to train a barback whose first language is Spanish to be a bartender, Polsky struggled with the language barrier and couldn’t find any training programs in Spanish. He reached out to a friend at Pernod Ricard, which produces the BarSmarts bar training program, and found that a Spanish version of the popular online program was already in the works. “Now we finally have a really solid first step for people who are not fluent in English to be able to be competent, professional bartenders and feel confident in what they are doing,” Polsky said.

In addition to offering job training in more languages, a growing number of restaurants are taking the next step and offering opportunities for staff members to learn English as a second language. In New York City, Tacombi in the West Village offers employees classes through a program called ESL Works. The courses are part of an effort to “help to build a more equal playing field” for the company’s non–English speakers, Tacombi owner and CEO Dario Wolos told Grub Street. McDonald’s offers an English as a second language course to employees who are non-native English speakers called English Under the Arches. Both the McDonald’s program and ESL Works are conducted in-person, but online courses can be just as effective for employees who are dedicated to putting in the time, Gonzalez said. Panda Restaurant Group makes language learning software from Rosetta Stone available to the 30,000 employees who work in its 2,000 restaurants. “We don’t want language — English-speaking in particular — to be an obstacle for an associate to do his or her best. We don’t want that to be something that will deter them from achieving greater things at our store and also in their lives,” Kevin Kwan, technology manager of learning and development for the parent company of Panda Express, Panda Inn and Hibachi San said in a story published by Employee Benefit News. English is the primary focus of the courses Panda offers, but “with Rosetta Stone being so versatile with so many languages, as our company expands, we also expect them to learn languages other than English,” said Alvin Tang, the restaurant company’s learning and development coordinator.

Corporate language learning is on the rise and the corporate online language learning market in the US is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of more than 16% through 2021, according to a report from Technavio. English and Spanish tutorials are most popular with US businesses, but demand is rising for the Chinese dialect Mandarin, according to Shari Hofer, Rosetta Stone’s vice president of marketing. Whether it’s learning English or a different language, development opportunities like these can go a long way toward building staff loyalty. “If an employee feels that they are being valued — that their employee actually values them as a person and cares about their development — they tend to stay in an organization longer,” Gonzalez said. Exchange of language, culture builds better teams. Another way restaurant companies can show employees that they are valuable members of the team is by going beyond a common language to achieve deeper cultural awareness. Managers “have to consider the cultural differences, as well as the academic levels and backgrounds of each person that they have working with them. The other thing that is also very important is they have to take the time to get to know their people, and don’t assume that because someone looks Hispanic, that they don’t speak English or are a certain nationality,” Gonzalez said. “Take the time to learn a little about the culture of that person. Getting to know a little about their country and even trying to learn some words in that specific language helps a lot.” – Source: Restaurant SmartBrief

Smucker Embracing ‘New Model’ for Brand Building

Changes in how consumers search for and acquire consumer packaged goods are forcing companies like the J.M. Smucker Co., Orrville, Ohio, to rethink how they develop and market new products. Smucker, in particular, is investing in its brand building model in an effort to become more granular and agile. “…We enjoy strong positions in great categories, and we have a scaled supply chain with disciplined processes across the company,” said Geoff E. Tanner, senior vice-president of growth and consumer engagement, Oct. 9 during the company’s annual investor day in New York. “But with that said, relying on these scale advantages is no longer sufficient. To thrive in today’s market and tomorrow’s market, we need to enhance our innovation capabilities, we need brands that consumers love, not just know and trust. We need to ensure we have distribution strength in emerging channels. And we as a company need to embrace agility and a more flexible manufacturing footprint.” He added that while acquisitions have been a key driver of growth in the past, the new brand building initiative is expected to be “just as strong of a capability.” The brand building model features new consumer insights and data capabilities, an enhanced innovation model, a new marketing model, a more agile operating model and expanded omni-channel distribution capabilities.

New insights and data capabilities include “jobs theory,” which focuses on consumer purchasing decisions, and demand landscapes, which helps managers identify opportunities. “Another example in this area, a focus has been weaving together a unique set of tools to get a much faster read on how our marketing is performing,” Mr. Tanner said. “Historically, we’ve been too reliant on traditional marketing mix models. And while they’re important, they weren’t providing a fast enough read so we could optimize our marketing in real time.” Smucker has entered into a multiyear partnership with IDEO, a consultancy, to aid with new product development and employee training. The company also is taking a new approach to partnering with start-up food companies. “When it comes to innovation, we think about three different types: sustaining innovation largely to maintain the vitality of our core business; scaled platform innovation, where we’re moving into new categories or segments; and emerging innovation, where we’re pushing further into white space. Frankly, this is an area of opportunity for us, which is why we’re deploying a new approach to venturing.”

This past June, Smucker entered into a partnership with Rev1 Ventures, Columbus, Ohio. The partnership is designed to help Smucker identify start-up businesses with potential in such areas as ingredient and process technology, snacking, and commodity and supply chain. Three years ago Smucker’s marketing budget was $150 million. Today, it’s over $500 million. “Obviously, that represents recent acquisitions, but it’s inclusive of an $80 million increase this fiscal year,” he said. “The $80 million increase is a major commitment to our brand building efforts. And across media, nearly half of that spend is in digital. “Our marketing efforts have been too fragmented, both across our internal teams and across our agency network. … we recently reorganized, formally solid internal marketing teams into centers of excellence, multidisciplinary teams supporting each business. And at this moment, we’re in the process of consolidating all of our agencies with one holding company, and we expect to make that announcement in the coming weeks.”

Smucker management recently made developing a more agile organization a corporate initiative. “… Across the company, we’re embracing the concept of agile teams, particularly on major initiatives,” Mr. Tanner said. “And we’re embracing design thinking. Think it, make it, and if it fails, fail fast and fail cheap. This is as much a mindset shift as it is new tools and processes.” Mark R. Belgya, chief financial officer, said management expects to see top-line growth of 2% to 3% and bottom-line growth of around 8%. “…we’ll achieve this top-line objective by increasing the sales of our growth brands … by a high single-digit rate and keeping the remainder of the portfolio flat to slightly up,” he said. “…we expect gross profit to increase in a moderately faster rate than sales of the same period. This will be accomplished through a favorable margin mix associated with innovation, ongoing budget management programs and capital investments aimed at improving efficiencies and productivity.”

Mark T. Smucker, president and chief executive officer, said the company has made significant changes to its portfolio through acquisitions and divestments. “… We’ve reshaped our portfolio toward’ growth categories and even within the categories toward the segments that are growing the fastest within each category,” he said. “The size of the categories that we are playing in today is about 25% larger than those we were in five years ago. Pet is our largest at 38% of our portfolio. Coffee is 32%, and food is at 28%. All three of these categories are growing faster than the center store average. So, we do feel like we’re in some of the best categories.”

Chick-fil-A Opening Stores without Dining Rooms

Chick-fil-A’s new test locations won’t have a drive thru or dining room. Chick-fil-A has no issue driving customers into its restaurants and through its drive thru. In fact, QSR’s 2018 Drive-through Study showed six or more cars crowding the lane 40 percent of the time. And the 2,200-plus-unit brand’s average-unit volumes of $4.1 million are tops in all of quick service. But that doesn’t mean Chick-fil-A doesn’t want to cash in on the off-premises surge. With a growing demand for to-go orders, Chick-fil-A announced it is testing locations in Nashville, Tennessee, and Louisville, Kentucky, without dining rooms. These units will focus instead on catering and delivery and are set to open this month. Customers in the markets can still order catering at any local Chick-fil-A, but the fresh models will serve as hubs for catering and delivery. The Nashville location has no dining room or drive thru—roughly 4,200 of its 5,800 square feet will be dedicated to the kitchen, which is more than double the size of a normal Chick-fil-A’s space. Chick-fil-A chose Church Street as the location “because it’s at the center of one of the fastest growing cities in the country,” it said. The store has easy access to highways for deliveries to multiple destinations, including downtown Nashville, local hospitals such as Nashville General and Saint Thomas, and college campuses like Vanderbilt and Belmont. “Customers are relying more on mobile delivery,” Nashville restaurant franchise operator David Sims said in a statement, “and this new location helps us provide that convenience.” Customers can order by walking up to the front counter inside the restaurant, or through DoorDash delivery. They can also order catering to be delivered or picked up at the restaurant. Chick-fil-A is looking to capitalize on the rise of to-go orders. Another new caveat: The restaurant doesn’t accept cash. It will only take credit/debit, “making the Chick-fil-A Mobile App the easiest way to order,” the brand added. The location will serve the full menu. Chick-fil-A’s Louisville restaurant will be a similar format. In this case, there will be no dining room or walk-up ordering. It will focus solely on preparing catering and delivery orders for Chick-fil-A restaurants in Louisville’s East End. This store, slated for mid-October, will be roughly the same size as typical 4,800-square-foot stores. “This is a tremendous opportunity to create a better experience for restaurant team members and customers alike,” said Bruce Smith, operator of the new location,” in a statement. “Team members can stay focused on making sure every customer has the best possible experience at our restaurants. It’s never been easier for customers who are picking up their catering orders.” – Source: QSR.

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