Sunday, August 17, 2008

Special Report: Tesco Fresh & Easy's Director of Grocery Returning to the UK; Grocery Chain Reorganizing its Corporate Buying Department

Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market is in the process of reorganizing its corporate category management and buying department at its El Segundo, California corporate headquarters, Fresh & Easy buzz has learned. (Fresh & Easy calls its buying department "Commercial," in following the British usage, even though its a U.S-based division.)

As we reported earlier, five category managers and buyers have left the company over the last four -to- five months, from February -to- June, 2008.

Key to the corporate category management and buying department organizational changes is the departure of Charlotte Maxwell, Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market's director of grocery. Ms. Maxwell, who is a British native, plans to return to Tesco PLC in the United Kingdom to assume a director position at corporate headquarters there, sources tell Fresh & Easy Buzz.

Replacing Ms. Maxwell as director of grocery will be Sean McCurely, who currently is director of the Fresh Department. Mr. McCurely is equal to Ms. Maxwell in the corporate organizational chart. Therefore his will essentially be a lateral move within the company.

Grocery and Fresh are the two departments within Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market's merchandising and buying organization.

Additional changes and new category management and buying assignments include:

>The promotion of existing Bakery category manager Jim Jensen to the director of fresh, replacing Sean McCurley who is assuming Ms. Maxwell's director of grocery position.

>The existing category manager for dairy/deli (which is in the Fresh division) is moving over to the Grocery Department to be the category manager of specialty, baking and canned goods, reporting to Sean McCurley, who he currenly reports to in the Fresh Department.

>A new person has been hired to be the category manager for dairy/deli, replacing the existing category manager, who is moving over to the grocery division. Our sources say his first name is Dan. However they don't have a last name for the new dairy/deli category buyer. He will report to Jim Jenson, who will be the new Fresh Department director, as detailed above.

>The current beverages category manager is getting the confections category added to his portfolio. Previously he was in charge of canned goods along with beverages but no longer will be because that segment is now going to the new specialty, baked goods and canned foods category manager as we detailed above. Beverages is under the Grocery Department.

Additionally, we've learned the wine and beer category, which originally was part of the Grocery Department but was moved some time ago to the Fresh Department for internal reasons, is going to be switched back to its original location in grocery, under the supervision of Sean McCurley, who as we said above is switching from director of fresh foods to grocery director, replaces Charlotte Maxwell who is returning to Tesco in the UK.

Further, our sources tell us the frozen foods category, which currently is in the Fresh Department, likely also will be moved to the Grocery department under Mr. McCurely's supervision.

After the organizational changes are completed, the Fresh Department will consist of the following: fresh meat, fresh produce, bakery and dairy/deli. All other categories will be under the Grocery Department.

According to sources, Fresh & Easy has filled some of the five category manager and buyer positions we reported on here. However, based on the math, it appears there remain openings to fill for bakery goods in the Fresh Department and snacks and breakfast in the Grocery Department. Of course, depending on how the new Grocery and Fresh department directors organize their respective departments, these two category manager positions could be merged, changed or otherwise adjusted.

Fresh & Easy has filled the vacant non-foods category manager position internally, moving former frozen foods category manager Michelle Bonilla into that position. Her non-foods duties include health and beauty care items. At press time we're told the buyer position under her has yet to be filled.

We weren't able to determine as of yet if Ms. Bonilla's frozen foods category manager position has been filled. Sources say there's been talk about trying to fill it internally.

Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market category managers have started to informally tell their supplier sales representatives about the reorganization and changes. Sources tell us the company has no plans to make a formal, written announcement to the supplier community or the press about the changes however.

In addition to these major organizational changes in the category mangement-buying department, particularly the departure of Ms. Maxwell, there will be some additional minor changes and tweaks, particularly when the department is able to hire the remaining category managers and buyers.

Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market currently has 71 of its small-format (10,000 -to- 13,000 square foot), convenience-oriented combination basic grocery, fresh foods and specialty grocery markets open in Southern California, Metropolitan Las Vegas, Nevada, and in the Phoenix, Arizona Metro region. Numerous additional stores are scheduled to be open the rest of this year and next year, including moving into the new markets of Central and Northern California beginning in early 2009, as we've reported on extensively.

No comments: