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    Knowledge Is Power

    New 2007 events for convenience retailers announced from PEI, ECRM and NGA.

    The Petroleum Equipment Institute (PEI) is holding its young executives 2007 winter conference in Cancun, Mexico from Feb. 8-10. The annual networking and leadership development conference promises to hone the skills of future retailers and managers.

    The conference will focus on issues currently facing the petroleum marketing industry, as well as provide a place for attendees to network with peers in the industry and exchange ideas on the challenges faced on the issues discussed at the conference.

    In addition, PEI has made available its 2006 Convention Education Sessions, which were presented at the PEI Convention in Las Vegas. Audio CDs or Podcasts can be purchased for $10 for members or $12 for non-members. The complete set is available for $75 for members and $90 for non-members. Sessions include: Pricing Strategies; Good Reason but Wrong Decisions (Ethics); Fuel Composition and Equipment Compatibility (Alternative Fuels); Hiring Good Employees and Keeping Them; Regulatory and Legislative Issues Update; Secrets of Power Negotiating; Inside Secrets of Power Negotiating for Salespeople; Understanding the True Cost of a Service Tech; and Every Face Tells a Story: the Art of Face Reading.

    In other event news, Efficient Collaborative Retail Marketing (ECRM) announced a series of planning sessions for the convenience industry. On Jan. 21, ERCM will host the Convenience Market General Merchandise, Health & Beauty Care and Tobacco Efficient Program Planning Sessions. Then, on Jan. 24- 27, the first of six co-branded events with the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) will begin with Summer Planning Snack and Beverage & Grocery planning sessions.

    ERCM split its convenience planning sessions to focus on the food side, according to president and CEO Charles Bowlus. "We removed food categories from the convenience market planning session and created a separate event that encompasses drug, grocery and dollar stress for those suppliers." He added, "Buyers were telling us they needed to have a show or shows where they could review multiple categories in one week, rather than attending two or three events within months of each other."

    Other changes include the addition of front-end and check stands. "This year, we've narrowed the focus," said Bowlus. "We're strictly focusing on convenience."

    Both shows will be held in Scottsdale, Ariz. The General Merchandise, Health & Beauty Care and Tobacco show begins on Jan. 21 and ends on Jan. 24. The FMI/ERCM Summer Planning Snack, Beverage & Grocery event begins on Jan. 24 and runs until Jan. 27. That show includes categories such as Snacks (salty, meat, cookies, crackers and snack bars), Beverage, Ice Cream and frozen novelties and Grocery Products (condiments, canned vegetables, canned meat, baking and cereal).

    Also in other event news, the First Annual International Best Bagger Competition will be held during the 2007 National Grocers Association's (NGA) Annual Convention and Supermarket Synergy Showcase, to be held Jan. 29 to Feb. 1 in Las Vegas.

    The Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers (CFIG) and the NGA will hold the competition, which will feature Canada's best against the States' leading bagger and be hosted by NBC's Today Show food critic Phil Lempert, on Jan. 31 at Caesars Palace.

    The Canadian contender was chosen from the CFIG's Second Annual Canadian Best Bagger Competition at Grocery Innovations Canada 2006. Baggers were judged in four areas -- speed, bag building technique, distribution of weight and style, and appearance. Joanna Edwards from Longo's Burlington won the competition, along with $500 and the chance to beat the NGA's National Best Bagger contest winner.

    The NGA National Best Bagger Contest is a year-long nationwide program where the best grocery baggers compete for the title of America's Best Bagger. Contestants are judged with both paper and plastic bags on speed, bag-building technique, weight distribution between bags and style, attitude and appearance. The winner will be announced Jan. 30, and will compete against Edwards.

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