Embracing Traditions

By
Paul Reuter, Chairman emeritus and contributing editor

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As the final sighs of 2010 breathed fresh life into 2011, 7-Eleven had just acquired nearly 200 stores; the Federal Reserve moved to cap debit-card swipe fees; the FDA acknowledged that morbid graphics on cigarettes will do little good to deter smoking; and our c-store channel continued to demonstrate its resilience against a languishing economy.

The year 2010 can be described as one of transition: Many big trends that started or picked up steam last year will grow in intensity over the next 12 to 24 months.

Perhaps the most important of these changes is the role of federal government in our everyday work lives—both for good and not so good. We started to see the FDA assert its role as big brother of tobacco. This trend will no doubt continue as it decides whether to ban menthol cigarettes (we hope not), define certain terms within OTP (we hope so) and impose changes from listing ingredients to new warnings (we’ll reserve judgment).

Also, the FTC is moving into foodservice; it will be important that as we continue to grow our industry’s investment in foodservice, we take smart food-handling practices very seriously. I personally believe we’re in a great position to grow our foodservice share and to steal significant dollars from QSRs. Terry Marks, president and CEO of The Pantry, has it right when he says QSRs can never match us for convenience and on-the-go purchases, but we can match them on foodservice quality.

Another important trend is the shift from Big Oil to superjobbers. In 2010 it seemed that hardly a week passed when major oil wasn’t divesting sites from yet another market. With all but Chevron and Hess divesting, expect jobbers to begin developing retail programs of their own to maximize profit opportunities. If someone had slept through 2010, they might think that life stayed the course for Casey’s and Alimentation Couche-Tard. But we know otherwise. This unsolicited takeover bid—an industry first that kept our CSP editorial team quite busy and garnered us a national award for the dozens of exclusive stories it produced—got quite heated.

At the end of the day, both Casey’s and Couche-Tard came out winners. Casey’s emerges as a stronger and bolder company, while Couche-Tard underscores the accretive value our channel represents. Put another way, both they and many other chains embraced change as a bedrock for growth.

This past year saw much change at CSP as well, mostly in our company’s increasing role in foodservice. We acquired two of the industry’s leading media properties: the print publications Restaurant Business and FoodService Director and their related online and conference businesses.

When we combine CSP magazine, our existing conference business, and our Fare magazine and Foodservice at Retail Exchange (now in its fourth year) with our newest products and team, it clearly shows that CSP is the largest foodservice media company. It’s no secret that our goal is to use this skilled team and its reach to help everyone in the industry maximize this very key category.

So as 2011 unfolds, so does our excitement as we look for new and improved ways to serve you. As part of that goal, it is my personal pleasure to officially congratulate a few CSP folks on their well-deserved promotions. Jim Dickens is now our chief operating officer; Kay Segal is executive vice president, convenience and petroleum retailing group; Scott Allmendinger is executive vice president, foodservice group; and Mitch Morrison adds vice president to his group editor title.

I know you will join me in congratulating this team as they take the lead to help CSP fulfill its vision. It’s simple: If we can help you grow your business, we grow ours.

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