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Dierbergs Markets-Manchester MO store.jpeg Dierbergs Markets

Independent grocer Dierbergs Markets lands at center of NGA competition

Students will present employment solutions around the retailer at the NGA Show

Dierbergs Markets will be the participating retailer in the National Grocers Association’s 2023 Student Case Study Competition. 

The competition, hosted annually by the NGA Foundation, brings college students from across the country to the NGA Show in February where the students present solutions to an issue currently impacting the independent grocery industry.

The program allows students to interact with an independent grocer (in this case, the Chesterfield, Mo.-based Dierbergs) as a means of grounding their education with real-life experience, the NGA Foundation said. Participants go through three rounds of judging via food industry professionals, and the winners and their schools ultimately receive a cash prize.

Employee recruitment and retention is the topic for the 2023 competition, with students asked to present solutions for independent grocers still dealing with major labor shortages as they emerge from the pandemic. 

“The pandemic spawned ‘The Great Resignation,’ as workers forced into remote working situations have taken the opportunity to reassess what they truly want out of their jobs,” the NGA Foundation noted in the case study scenario. “They’ve redefined compensation to transcend money, to include a favorable work-life balance as well as the desire to be a part of a greater social mission.”

External challenges to recruiting and retaining employees that grocery retailers have identified include limited childcare options, increased competition for employees from other local businesses, and an expansion of “gig-economy” remote working opportunities resulting in an increase in work/life flexibility for the employees, the NGA Foundation stated.

Questions that students will address in the case study include: What can the grocery retail industry do, as a whole, to improve the connection points with employees of all ages and reduce turnover rates; How can Dierbergs Markets position themselves as a top potential employer for younger generations seeking fulfillment beyond financial in their career; How should Dierbergs Markets restructure their team to support employees needs during the hiring and training process; and What are unique offerings Dierbergs Markets can offer both full-time and part-time employees that will encourage retention?

“Dierbergs is honored to be a part of a program that’s focused on nurturing the next generation of leadership for our industry,” said Erica Campbell, Dierbergs director of talent management, in a statement. “We look forward to the insights that this age group will bring to the table, as they reflect the thoughts of the emerging workforce as well as an increasingly important demographic of consumers.” 

The NGA Foundation added that the competition strives to further the professional development of collegiate students pursuing degrees in food and retail programs and provides student teams the opportunity to creatively address a real-world issue currently impacting the industry. 

“I’m thrilled that the topic of recruitment and retention this year is so relevant for NGA’s members,” said NGA Foundation Director Chelsea Matzen. “This topic is also at the core of the foundation’s mission.”

Dierbergs operates 25 stores in the St. Louis metropolitan area and one at Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks, is the latest independent retailer to be the subject of the competition. Previous participants include Woodman’s Food Markets, Karns Quality Foods and Buehler’s Fresh Foods. The 2023 competition will occur during the NGA Show from Feb. 26-28 at the Caesars Forum Convention Center in Las Vegas.

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