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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- BP Global Strategic & Sustainable Projects director Mark Lester, and manager Vinita Ramnani will be part of the Day 1 lineup at the 14th annual Convenience Store News Future Forum, being held here March 31 to April 2.
In the opening session, the BP executives will discuss "What Does It Mean to Go Green." They will outline some of the recent green and sustainability trends in the marketplace and BP's Innovation Test Lab -- Helios House, the first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified gas station in the U.S.
Immediately following, Gulf Oil president Joe Petrowski will provide his perspective on the current state and future of the motor fuel business, and why Gulf is moving beyond petroleum and into the more retail aspects of the convenience store business.
The theme of this year's Future Form is "Taking Back the Convenience Edge: Bold Strategies for Predicting Customer Needs, Creating Unique Shopping Experiences and Gaining a Competitive Edge."
Todd Hale of The Nielsen Co. will take a critical look at the traditional and new competitors in the c-store market, analyzing the threats and opportunities posed by drug stores, supermarkets and the new breed of "super-sized" convenience/grocery hybrids like Tesco's Fresh & Easy.
Consumer strategist Art Turock will provide a framework for retailers to use to identify "unsaid" consumer needs, and then lead a live focus group of consumers who will discuss why they shop at c-stores, and why they don't.
Retailer-led concurrent sessions will feature CSNews' exclusive sales and volume forecasts for key c-store product categories, including motor fuels, confectionery, salty snacks, tobacco, beer and packaged beverages, along with interactive discussions about the key trends driving those categories.
CSNews managing editor Tammy Mastroberte will moderate a retailer panel on "Smart Ideas to Maximize Your Bottom Line." Panelists include Jenny Bullard, CIO, Flash Foods (Reduce Your Credit Card Fees); Hal Adams, vice president of merchandising and store development, Valero (The Do's and Don'ts of Private Label); Ben DiDonato, supply chain replenishment manager, Wawa (Streamlining Your Inventory Ordering & Accounting Process); Steve Larkin, director of real estate, Village Pantry (Optimizing Your Real Estate Acquisition Strategy); and Randy Fulkerson, former chairman of Huck's Food Stores (Controlling Your Labor Costs).
The final day of Future Forum will kick off with a special presentation by Gary Hoover, founder of Hoovers.com and CEO of Road Story USA. He'll address "Foreseeing the Future: Watching & Applying the Trends That Matter."
Marc Slutsky, chief operating officer of guerilla marketing specialists Street Fighter Marketing, will moderate a panel of retailers discussing creative, and low-cost, advertising strategies. Dennis Gerdeman, principal with noted retail design firm Chute Gerdeman, will lead a panel of many of the winners of CSNews' Store Design competition, who will show off their stores and discuss how to design layouts and shopping experiences to gain a competitive advantage. Presenting their creative store designs will be Bill Reilly, chief marketing officer, The Spinx Co.; Faiz Simon, owner, Atlas Oil Co.; Brad Call, vice president of Adventure Culture, Maverik; and Marc Jones, owner, Verona Depot.