What do you see as thegreatest opportunity in the convenience retailing businessat present?
Convenience. It's what we whatwe sell and what customerswant. People are more pressedfor time than ever so convenience is more important thanever. What an opportunity.
What are you doing at E-ZMart to attract female/new shoppers?
We have taken down most of thewindow clutter to open thestores up, make them lookneater and safer. We've alsopainted them white, focused onrestrooms, rebranded our coffeeto be named after my mother(FaEllen's Coffee), are offeringfruit in many locations and arefocusing on convenience. I thinkwomen and men both are timestarved so if we can just givethem back a little, we'll all bewinners.
What consumer trendsare of greatest interest to E-Z Mart, and how are you capitalizing on these trends?
Water and energy drinks continue to grow and energy justseems to come in many formsnow. Many of the prepaid cardsare doing well and we'reexpanding fresh produce.
What decision over thelast few years had the strongest impact on your bottom line and why?
The single strongest impactcame from consolidating markets and closing locations thatdidn't fit our strategic model. Itwas still tough though, as closing locations affects so manylives. Although we generally soldthe stores as operating unitsand most employees wereretained, office staff, field management, suppliers and, ofcourse, the communities arealso touched.
Do you see any relief insight for credit card fees?
Yes, but not immediately. Overthe past 18 months, we haveaccomplished a great deal. Byforming the MerchantsPayments Coalition, NACSbrought together the combinedstrength of the entire retailingcommunity to fight this battle.We met and exceeded ourgoals in 2006 and have a vigorous campaign laid out for2007. Our ability to affect thenecessary changes going forward will be determined by ourability to keep the pressure oncredit card companies. As longas we continue to receive thenecessary financial contributions to NACS' InterchangeAction Fund, we will continue toforce a favorable resolution.