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Highlights of the January 2015 Issue


Heck Takes Personnel Subcommittee Chair, Ready for Challenges


• WASHINGTON — Early this month Congressman Joseph “Joe” Heck (R-Nev.) took up the gavel as chairman of the House Armed Services Committee’s (HASC) Military Personnel Subcommittee. The selection was made Dec. 11, by Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), who himself was recently named HASC chairman by the Steering Committee of the House Republican Conference.

Discussing his appointment, Heck said, “For more than 23 years, I have dedicated my career to protecting the morale and welfare of our troops … . Chairing the MILPERS subcommittee will allow me to continue that service, just in another capacity.

Ide Named MCX COO And Deputy Director


• QUANTICO — On Dec. 15, the Marine Corps’ NAF Business and Support Services Division (NAFBSSD) formally announced that Jennifer Ide was named its chief operating officer (COO) and deputy director, Business Operations. As acting deputy director of Business Operations, Ide had been the acting COO of the body overseeing the Marine Corps Exchange (MCX) since Sept. 19, when Cindy Whitman Lacy was named director. Ide’s new responsibilities became effective on Dec. 14.

Ide also retained her existing position as branch head, Logistics and Corporate Communications, during her period as ...

Exchanges’ Thanksgiving Weekend Sales Bring Patrons Flocking Back


The military exchanges — the Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES); the Navy Exchange Service Command (NEXCOM); the Marine Corps Exchange (MCX); and the Coast Guard Exchange (CGX) — along with the Veterans Canteen Service (VCS), had a busy Thanksgiving holiday weekend in 2014, generally posting increased sales for the period. ...

Appropriations Bill Restores 2015 DeCA Funding, Commends MCX on Sourcing Safety Standards


• WASHINGTON — The Omnibus Appropriations Act (H.R. 83) that rolled up funding for the government and Department of Defense (DoD) for Fiscal 2015 — also known as the “Omnibus” bill — restored funding cuts proposed by the Defense Department to the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA). Explanatory notes associated with the legislation also commended the Marine Corps Exchange (MCX) on its efforts to support worker safety initiatives in Bangladesh.

The legislation, which was signed by President Obama on Dec. 16, restored $190 million in operational funding for commissaries, bringing DeCA working capital funding for 2015 to $1.3 billion from the $1.1 billion proposed by DoD. Earlier in the year, the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, and later the full Committee, had called for the rolling back of DoD’s cuts to commissary funding in 2015 “pending the commission on compensation report,” which is due next month. The final Omnibus legislation also featured among its compromises a 1-percent pay raise for military and civilian personnel requested by DoD and authorized by the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC).

DeCA Working to Resolve Product Shortages in Pacific and Europe Areas


• FORT LEE — The Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) is working to overcome challenges that have impacted the timely delivery of products to stores in its Pacific and Europe areas, where, in some instances, commissary patrons experienced critical shortages in perishable products such as chilled juices, produce and dairy products.

“Several factors have caused our overseas stores to fall short of what’s required to serve our patrons there,” DeCA Director and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Joseph H. Jeu said. “We are doing everything possible —increasing our product reorders, looking for additional approved local sources and examining alternative shipping methods — to find solutions to these problems and ensure that products are available for our customers wherever they shop.”

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DeCA Q&A: ‘A Satisfying Shopping Experience’


Defense Commissary Agency Sales Director Tracie Russ
Weekly staff meetings plus a smarter reallocation of category manager responsibilities, plus new ideas from store level, standardized category review processes, customer insights, and an innovative new program called “Communities of Practice,” are just a few of the Defense Commissary Agency’s (DeCA) Sales Directorate’s recent initiatives that taken together, target a more satisfying shopping experience for DeCA patrons.

In this exclusive interview, Defense Commissary Agency sales director Tracie Russ — who has been a part of commissaries’ evolution into a state-of-the-art grocery benefit since the days of the Air Force Commissary Service (AFCOMS), one of DeCA’s predecessor organizations — shares her bold perspective on how these and other programs promise to improve the value of the benefit for patrons, not just in 2015 but also in the years to come.

E and C News: What are your observations on the new DeCA Sales Directorate and Marketing Business Unit?

Tracie Russ: I see an organized, not re-organized, fully-functioning team(s) working from the same sheet of music, striving every day to negotiate the very best savings for our military customer, as well as orchestrating a new, streamlined process that has improved DeCA’s method of doing business with our industry partners.

By increasing the number of category managers, we have been able to decrease the number of products/companies/brokers that each manager works with, which allows them more time to focus on our monthly themes, promotional pricing, manager’s specials, club packs, and industry negotiations.

Our business rapport with our industry partners has improved greatly, offering them more time for presentations, working further out for efficient planning purposes, and also giving DeCA more time to study industry trends, pricing on the outside, and also research comparable sales and advertising. ...



Dairy’s Most Versatile Category — Protein Power, Savings Power, Holding Power


With a new yogurt planogram deploying this month, the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) is rebooting its yogurt category assortment with a view to wider and stronger patron appeal, greater sales, and improved holding power on the shelf.

Asked about the Yogurt category’s current direction in commissaries, several resale suppliers spoke with E and C News. Among them were Scott O’Toole, business planning manager, Chill and Frozen, General Mills; Michael Stewart, president, Mid Valley Products; and Keith Smith, chief operating officer (COO), Elite Brands.


With DeCA’s most recent yogurt category review now completed, O’Toole of General Mills said he believed DeCA Dairy Category Manager Steve Villeneuve is aiming to provide “the right assortment and the right holding power on the shelf … right now the category is pretty solid,” he said.

Discussing opportunities for further growth in the category, Mid Valley’s Stewart pointed to statistics from EuroMonitor showing that U.S. consumers still eat only about one-quarter as much yogurt as consumers do in Europe. However, he said, “From 2009 to 2013, U.S. consumption of yogurt on a total cup basis has increased 53 percent.” ...



A Snack Fitting the Marine Profile


Jerky, long a stalwart of the packaged meat snacks subcategory, is not only popular in military stores but also out-indexes versus jerky sales outside the gate.

It’s no surprise then that Marines, in particular, fit squarely into the demographic of those who gravitate toward this type of snack. And with younger servicemembers spending more time on base, their local Marine Corps Exchange (MCX) store is often not just the go-to destination for such purchases, but a vital resource in helping Marines maintain their energy levels and speed of recovery during a tough day of training.

“The highest-indexing meat snack customer is 18-to-45 years old with 55 percent being male, active, on the go, and health conscious to some degree,” noted Ashley Davis, the MCX’s food category buyer. ...





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