Thursday, November 17, 2011

'Meat Guru'-Category Manager Bill Arnold Out at Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market

Bill Arnold, Fresh & Easy's "Meat Guru" is out.

Arnold, who Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market made the face of its in-store fresh meat offering in a marketing and public relations campaign over the last couple years, was, in addition to its meat category face and spokesman, the 184-store grocery chain's meat and seafood category manager, who was responsible on a day-to-day basis for procurement and merchandising.

Arnold left El Segundo, California-based Fresh & Easy last week to pursue another job opportunity in the food and grocery industry.

He joined Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market before the first stores were opened in November 2007.

Fresh & Easy has not publicly announced Arnold's departure, nor has it been reported in the grocery industry trade press or elsewhere, based on an extensive online search we did prior to publishing this story.

Arnold's leaving Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market wasn't directly related to the series of events that led to chief marketing officer Simon Uwings' departure last week, the news of which we broke on Thursday, November 10, in this story: Chief Marketing Officer Uwins Out in Top-Level Reshuffling at Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market.

In the days following our detailed November 10 story, numerous mainstream business and grocery industry trade publications have published stories based on the information we first reported in Fresh & Easy Buzz, seeking and obtaining confirmation of our report from Fresh & Easy's corporate spokesperson.

Arnold's decision to resign his position however was influenced by and related to the changes happening at Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market, which are detailed in our November 10 story, according to our sources. (We learned of and verified Arnold's departure last week. It was on Wednesday, November 9 that Fresh & Easy's CEO, Tim Mason, announced Uwins' departure during the grocery chain's weekly Town Hall meeting at the El Segundo office.)

Chief among those changes is the reality that since buying-out former in-house meat purveyor 2 Sisters Food Group last year (see our story here), and terminating its business relationship with seafood supplier Pacific Pride Seafood Inc. in June of this year, which we reported exclusively here, Fresh & Easy has shifted most of its meat and fish/seafood buying to its facility at the Riverside County, California campus/distribution center. That operation was formerly 2 Sisters Food Group and is now owned and operated by the grocery chain.

It's not clear at present if Fresh & Easy will replace Arnold and keep the meat and seafood category position, according to our sources, particularly because much of the procurement is now handled by the meat facility at the Riverside campus.

One option that's being consider, according to our sources, is to hire a buyer-merchandiser who would focus primarily on fish and seafood, which is a category Fresh & Easy wants to improve considerably and do more sales volume in.

Bill Arnold was a bit more than a category manager at Tesco's Fresh & Easy, however, at least in the eyes of its marketing department.

The grocer's marketing department, with CEO Tim Mason's blessing, made the meat man the face of the category to consumers in a series of marketing-oriented press releases, videos, posts in the corporate marketing blog and other venues.

For example, a July 1, 2010 post  in Fresh & Easy's "talking fresh" blog touts Arnold as "Fresh & Easy's Meat Guru." The post, authored by the meat man, talks about grilling meats, and is a promotional piece designed to stimulate sales of the grocers grill pack items for the July 4th holiday. [See the post: Thursday, July 1, 2010 GUEST BLOG: Fresh & Easy’s Meat Guru Bill Arnold.]

Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market also produced the three minute video (at the top of this story) of "Meat Guru" Bill Arnold that's included in the July 1 blog post and was posted on its YouTube channel, which features the meat man in front of the meat case in a Fresh & Easy store, where he's touting the grocers own-brand meat and poultry grill packs for theJuly 4th holiday and summer grilling season.

Other marketing programs featuring the now departed Bill Arnold as "Fresh & Easy's "Meat Guru" included a public relations and event-oriented program just this summer as a way to encourage shoppers to buy the grocer's existing and new varieties of meat and poultry grill packs.

For example, as part of that campaign, this May 12, 2011 press release featured Arnold as "Fresh & Easy's Meat Expert."

In the release, which was distributed to media outlets in California, Nevada and Arizona and posted on the web, Arnold offers this advice in a quote: "As we move into summer, more people are coming together for barbecues, graduations, and picnics and everyone wants to find great deals on quality meats and veggies they can easily throw on the grill. We're expanding our grilling range to offer our customers even more choice meat options marinated with new and unique flavors, along with some great vegetarian options and sides."

Arnold, who's now gone, was also featured in a number of other promotions as "Fresh & Easy's "Meat Expert" or "Meat Guru."

In September of this year Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market paid a former meat category buyer named Kyle Weathersby $489,747,73 in a legal judgement, which was the result of a wrongful termination-employment discrimination lawsuit he filed and won against the grocery chain after being fired in 2008, as we reported here - October 27, 2011: Former Meat Buyer Wins $400,000-Plus Legal Judgment From Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market.

Prior to his dismissal from Tesco's Fresh & Easy, Weathersby reported to Bill Arnold, who as the meat and seafood category manager was responsible for the day-to-day procurement and merchandising of the products that comprise the respective product categories.


Anonymous said...

about time they got rid of this jerk

Anonymous said...

about time they got rid of this jerk!