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    Agenda Set for 2016 Convenience Distribution Marketplace

    Experts will talk tobacco regs and retail operations.

    LAS VEGAS — Retail operations, marketing and tobacco regulation will take center stage at the Convenience Distribution Association's (CDA) 2016 Convenience Distribution Marketplace. The event will be held Feb. 16-18 at the Paris Las Vegas Hotel & Casino.

    Formerly known as the AWMA Marketplace & Solutions Expo, the event has been renamed and refocused to reflect significant changes and improvements over the past year, including the Reston, Va.-based trade association's name change from the American Wholesale Marketers Association (AWMA) to the Convenience Distribution Association.

    Marketplace — with its targeted trade show floor of some 200 exhibitors representing the top manufacturers and suppliers in the convenience channel — is designed to provide distributors with the opportunity and time to connect with their preferred business partners, unlike larger retailer-focused events.

    The keynote speaker on Wednesday, Feb. 17 will be George Blankenship, former executive at Tesla Motors, Apple Computer and GAP Inc. He brings 30 years of international strategy, retail and real estate experience to his audience. Blankenship is recognized for transforming secure, status-quo organizations into forward-thinking and dynamic players of the future.

    Additionally, Marketplace Solutions Theater sessions will be held on the trade show floor. Sessions on Feb. 17 will include a retail panel discussion moderated by Ieva Grimm, owner and president of Synerge, a convenience industry expert who specializes in retail operations turnaround and innovation. Grimm is former senior director of education services at NACS and has more than 15 years of experience in convenience retailing from the storefront to the executive suite.

    Also presented in the Marketplace Solutions Theater on Feb. 17 will be a session featuring Dr. Rao Unnava, professor of marketing, Fisher School of Business, Ohio State University, followed by a Tobacco Regulatory Update that will include officials from the Federation of Tax Administrators. Representatives of the Food and Drug Administration also have been invited to participate.

    Marketplace Solutions Theater sessions on Thursday, Feb. 18 will kick off with a presentation entitled "Leveraging Generational Differences in Today's Workplace," by Blake Benefiel, director of state and trade relations, training and compliance, Altria Group Distribution Co. This interactive workshop is designed to help attendees better understand, manage and leverage the multiple generations in today's workforce.

    That session will be followed by "Show Me the Numbers: A Firsthand Look at Actionable C-Store Industry Sales Trends," by Kit Dietz, principal of Dietz Consulting. This session will provide information for attendees seeking to maximize the impact of their strategic category management engagements with customers, driving sales and profitable growth.

    The trade show floor will be open Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Thursday, 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

    The Convenience Distribution Association is the trade organization working on behalf of convenience products distributors in the United States. Its distributor members represent more than $92 billion in U.S. convenience product sales, serving a wide variety of small retail formats. Associate members include leading convenience product manufacturers, brokers, retailers, suppliers and others allied to the industry.

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