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CANTON, Mass. -- In his short time as president of Cumberland Farms Inc., President Ari Haseotes wasted little time bringing improvements to reality and moving the chain forward.
"This is a business of pennies where we compete against hundreds of competitors," he told the paper. "There’s really a massive blurring of (retail) channels that intensifies the level of competition."
Hasetoes, 34, was appointed president in October, and formerly was its vice president of marketing, according to a report by The Patriot Ledger. He is a Harvard Business School graduate, and plans to push the 70-year-old, 700-unit chain into the future of convenience store retailing by focusing on fresh food and private label, and making it independent from some categories experiencing declines, including tobacco and gasoline, according to the report.
"It’s unknown where tobacco and petroleum products are going," he said. "We are planning for the long term, so we can be even more viable with the core product we sell today."
As part of the business plan, Cumberland Farms opened two concept store designs in Connecticut earlier this year. The stores feature a revamped logo and a wide selection of fresh foods, including subs and salads, along with hot foods such as pizzas and flatbread sandwiches.
CSNews Online was on hand at the first prototype store's grand opening in Farmington, Conn., which featured extensive sampling of the store's food offer—from sandwiches, wraps and pizza to fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies and milkshakes.
The interior design of that store features sage green walls, brown and beige tile floors, light wood cabinetry and accents, and gray countertops. Glass pendant lights hang over the coffee bar, and LED lighting illuminates the coolers. Three low and wide-set gondolas occupy the convenience side of the store, while only two islands are present on the foodservice side, giving the store an open feel.
On the foodservice side of the store, a coffee bar lines the left wall. Close by is a island filled with prepared foods. The roller grill section offers a variety of traditional items, along with a hot case of sandwiches. Behind that are foodservice staff who prepare hot foods for customers.
So far, the early response to the prototypes has been encouraging, Haseotes told the Ledger.
In addition, Haseotes is meeting with store managers to find out more about day-to-day operations. The convenience store chain installed auto replenishment technology, which should allow employees more time to serve customers, the report stated.
An emphasis on store operations is one reason Haseotes terms the chain's new headquarters the "store support center," which it will share with its sister company, Gulf Oil.
Echoing the servant leadership sentiment often extolled by 7-Eleven chief Joe DePinto, the Cumberland Farms chief said, "We’re at the bottom of the pyramid and our job is to support them."
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