NEW YORK -- Trade channels are blurring and once-dependable traditions about which channel offers what product are fast disappearing.
? One way to find answers to that question -- the question that may be the most important one in retailing today -- is to attend the inaugural "SN Food Retailing Summit" to be Nov. 1-3 at the Four Seasons Resort, Palm Beach, Fla.
"Not long ago, any retailer could safely assume the chief competitor was the like-style store across the street," said David Merrefield, SN's vice president and executive editor. "Today, the competition takes any and all forms, and may not be a store at all but a web site."
It's difficult to see where channel blurring is going, but one certainty is that nearly every trade channel has discovered that there's profit in selling food, so speakers at the Retailing Summit will focus on how food retailing figures into their core strategy.
Here's the lineup of speakers:
Allan Noddle, president and chief executive officer, Ahold USA Support Services. Ahold is the Dutch company which has become the fastest growing supermarket operator in America by means of its acquisition strategy.
Nick White, executive vice president, Wal-Mart Stores. This mass merchant is moving aggressively into supercenters and now conventional supermarkets. It's destined to become the largest food retailer in America.
Laurence Anderson, Kmart executive vice president and Super Kmart president. Kmart's turnaround story is a phenomenon and part of it is driven by its food presentation in both conventional and supercenter outlets.
Mark Hansen, Sam's Club president and chief executive officer. Membership clubs have posed a significant competitive challenge to conventional supermarkets and all other food sellers. What's next for this vital trade channel?
Timothy DeMello, Streamline chairman and chief executive officer. Home delivery is back and Streamline, with its dedicated order-fulfillment capability, may be the model of the future. See how the future may look.
Craig Sinclair, vice president, Walgreen's. Food builds customer traffic and that's just what the drug channel needs. Find out how this operator is beefing up its food offer to attract shoppers.
Mike Gilliland, Wild Oats chief executive officer. Supermarkets and other trade channels are quickly discovering that traditional shelf-stable items aren't enough any more. This food retailer has moved into the natural food business, a move that every food retailer, regardless of channel, must know about.
John Stokley, Richfoods Holdings president and chief executive officer. Regardless of class of trade, food retailers must obtain product from somewhere. Many have captive distribution centers, many don't. In the latter case, the wholesaler becomes a retailer's most important trade partner.
The event is a presentation of Fairchild's Conference Department. For information on registration, fees, golf and other social events call Katheryn Cordes, executive director of conferences, at 212-630-4787.