VSDA'S GROCERS COUNCIL HOLDS FIRST STUDIO SUMMIT

ENCINO, Calif. - The Grocers Council of the Video Software Dealers Association here held its first summit with key executives from major studios last month at VSDA's headquarters.Council members discussed issues of particular concern to supermarkets that sell and rent home video with representatives of Buena Vista, Fox, Lions Gate, New Line, Paramount, Sony, Universal and Warner.Three topics were

ENCINO, Calif. - The Grocers Council of the Video Software Dealers Association here held its first summit with key executives from major studios last month at VSDA's headquarters.

Council members discussed issues of particular concern to supermarkets that sell and rent home video with representatives of Buena Vista, Fox, Lions Gate, New Line, Paramount, Sony, Universal and Warner.

Three topics were covered, said Mark Fisher, VSDA's vice president of membership and strategic initiatives: eliminating shrink as a deterrent to expanding sell-through; launch plans for high-definition DVD; and future grocery participation in packaged good sales, electronic sell-through and digital delivery.

"The meeting was significant in that it was the first forum for grocers to speak as a group with studio executives about general industry business issues, and not about their day-to-day purchase decisions," Fisher, a former supermarket video executive, told SN.

Commenting on the meetings, Brad Ufer, video merchandiser, Coborn's, St. Cloud, Minn., said, "Grocers want to tear down the shrink roadblock so we can more openly and aggressively merchandise DVDs and sell more product - a goal shared by the studios."

"We all agree that a technological solution, or temporary solutions such as scan-based trading, may be the best solutions to the shrink impediments," Ufer said.

"We heard the high-definition launch plans of each studio, which will help us individually determine if and when we should carry the category and how to merchandise it," noted Denis Oldani, director of video, Schnuck Markets, St. Louis.

"The studios generally agreed that the grocery channel is an important one for DVD sell-through, now and in the future," said Chuck Porter, director, video and entertainment, Giant Eagle, Pittsburgh. This includes participating in electronic delivery, he said.

VSDA Becomes Entertainment Merchants Association

ENCINO, Calif. - The trade association for retailers of entertainment software products has a new name: the Entertainment Merchants Association. EMA results from the merger of Video Software Dealers Association, here, and the Interactive Entertainment Merchants Association, Wilton, Conn.

The new trade group will be based here and retain many VSDA staff members. "The Entertainment Merchants Association brings together the leaders in home video and video game retailing and distribution," said Bob Geistman, VSDA's chairman. "By leveraging the strengths of each sector, we will have a trade association that is more efficient, more effective, and more influential than either IEMA or VSDA would have been had they continued as separate organizations." Geistman also is senior vice president, sales and marketing of Ingram Entertainment, La Vergne, Tenn.

Bo Andersen, president of VSDA, will be president of EMA, and Hal Halpin, founder and president of IEMA, and Crest Group, which managed IEMA, will advise and assist EMA during its launch.

Other key EMA staff, most continuing from VSDA, include: Sean Bersell, vice president, public affairs; Carrie Dieterich, vice president, marketing and industry relations; Mark Fisher, vice president, membership and strategic initiatives; and Frank Lucca, vice president and executive director, Independent Dealers of Entertainment Association. EMA's Washington-based federal affairs representative is Stuart Spencer.