Tops in produce: Bennett honored with Retail Merchant Innovation Award
FORT LEE, Va. – Bridget Bennett, supervisory category manager for produce at the Defense Commissary Agency in Fort Lee, Virginia, has been named one of only four winners of the first-ever Retail Merchant Innovation Awards by the Produce Marketing Association, during their annual Fresh Summit, held virtually Oct. 14.
The award celebrates directors and vice presidents of produce who have “created an entrepreneurial culture and [promote] best-in-class merchant innovation, promotion and consumer education while successfully achieving team goals and growing demand for fresh produce in their stores,” according to the PMA.
“Bridget Bennett is one of the most talented, experienced professionals in the global supermarket retail sector. She undeniably deserves this award,” said Tracie Russ, DeCA’s director of sales. “She exudes excellence in merchant innovation.”
Bennett is no stranger to industry honors, having been named as a produce retailer of the year in 2012, as well as one of industry newspaper The Packer’s Top Women in Produce in 2014. At the time, Bennett said “When I was promoted to produce manager, I knew that I had found a challenge that really intrigued me and allowed me to use my creativity.”
Russ pointed to Bennett’s leadership skills as directly contributing to her success. “Her one-on-one training with store managers learning how to create enticing displays and building camaraderie, resulted in better customer service, improved sales and assisted in training our produce leaders for the future,” Russ said.
Russ also pointed to Bennett’s innovative efforts including negotiating significant savings with the vendor community, developing promotional activities, her work with commodity boards and growers, and creating competition among stores to achieve their highest level of in-store merchandising, awarding the best with gift cards to give away to their customers at random.
“Bridget shines brightly amongst her peers in the global produce world offering our military patrons the very best example of what a superior produce area can be,” she said.
“I’m honored to receive this award,” Bennett said. “It means so much to be recognized at the national level for doing a job that I enjoy so much. Being in the group selected as the award’s inaugural winners is just the icing on the cake.”
In addition to Bennet, others earning the award included Scott Bennett, produce sales manager for Itasca, Illinois-based Jewel-Osco; Mike Tipton, vice president of produce and floral for St. Louis-based Schnuck Markets; and Jeff Cady, director of produce and floral, for Williamsville, New York-based Tops Friendly Markets.
About DeCA: The Defense Commissary Agency operates a worldwide chain of commissaries providing groceries to military personnel, retirees and their families in a safe and secure shopping environment. Commissaries provide a military benefit, saving authorized patrons thousands of dollars annually on their purchases compared to similar products at commercial retailers. The discounted prices include a 5-percent surcharge, which covers the costs of building new commissaries and modernizing existing ones. A core military family support element, and a valued part of military pay and benefits, commissaries contribute to family readiness, enhance the quality of life for America’s military and their families, and help recruit and retain the best and brightest men and women to serve their country.