During these turbulent economic times, there are many uncertainties that co-ops face as they expand within their existing markets or into new markets. Clearly, the development of an accurate sales forecast for a new store is an important step in successfully selecting new store locations. For the past eight years, food co-ops have benefited from the expertise provided by Pete Davis in the area of market analysis and sales forecasting. Pete has been working as a Location and Site Analysis consultant for Cooperative Development Services (CDS) since 2000 and has helped numerous co-ops successfully open new stores and relocate/expand their existing sites. We are pleased to announce that Debbie Suassuna, of G2G Research Group, will be joining the CDS team as a Location and Site Analysis consultant.
Debbie has known Pete Davis for over twenty years and through her friendship and professional experiences with him, she has become familiar with the cooperative community. While she enjoyed her work for larger stores and companies, she looks forward to more personal attachments with co-op clients. “From what I learned from Pete, working with co-ops is about relationships,” said Debbie. “These types of more personal relationships are what I am looking for,” she added.
Debbie holds a B.A. in Economic Geography from the University of Cincinnati in Ohio and an M.B.A. from the California State University in Hayward, California. Debbie has 20 years of experience in conducting site location research in the retail and restaurant industries, both as a consultant for a variety of retailers and as an in-house research expert. For the past five years, Debbie worked within the Real Estate Department of Williams-Sonoma, Inc., where she was responsible for the site location and consumer research activities for all of the company’s retail brands (Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn, Pottery Barn Kids, West Elm, and Williams-Sonoma Home). While employed with Williams-Sonoma, Inc., Debbie was instrumental in developing sound forecasting models for each retail brand and was able to significantly increase the accuracy of the company’s sales forecasts for new store locations and store expansions. According to Arthur Tropp, Senior Vice President of Real Estate at Williams Sonoma, Inc., “Debbie has not only done an excellent job of predicting our stores’ sales performance, but she has provided us with a better understanding of our retail customer and their shopping behavior, adding significant value to our real estate decision making and planning. I greatly appreciate the insight and thoughtfulness she has provided on various issues pertaining to our business.”
In addition to working at Williams-Sonoma, Inc., Debbie was also employed for 13 years by Thompson Associates (now Pitney Bowes MapInfo) which is a full-service consulting firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. While employed at Thompson Associates, Debbie had the opportunity to meet and work with Pete Davis. In fact, Pete participated in her training at Thompson Associates in the early 1990’s. According to Pete, “Debbie is one of the most capable site location analysts I have known in my 40 year career. Her experience with specialty store location research, site analysis and sales forecasting is both broad and deep; she has worked with big box retailers, smaller specialty stores, as well as with chain stores and independent retailers. If I were a retailer looking to expand my business, Debbie is an analyst in whom I would have a high level of confidence.”
At Thompson Associates, Debbie managed the research activities for a variety of retail and restaurant clients, which provided her with a broad range of experiences that will undoubtedly prove helpful in guiding the store expansion plans for our food co-ops.
Debbie looks forward to having a direct impact on the future success of her co-op clients and she knows that managers will depend on the information from her sales forecasts. “My goal is to provide co-ops with accurate sales forecasts and to help them understand the many aspects of a successful store”, Debbie said. “I want to educate managers and staff so they can fully benefit from my work—I want it to be relevant to them.”
Marilyn Scholl, the Coordinator for CDS’ Food Co-op Consultants, had the opportunity to meet and talk with Debbie last September and believes that “CDS is very fortunate to have found someone with Debbie’s experience and skills to work with Pete. Expansion projects are becoming more and more complex, and co-ops need disciplined research to use for making decisions. The future is never certain, and so the more data are used as a basis for analysis, the more likely the results will be predictable and risk minimized.”
Debbie can provide co-ops with a variety of services that are useful when considering new store locations or the expansion or relocation of an existing store. These services not only provide co-ops with a better understanding of their customers, but a better understanding of their stores’ trade areas and market penetration as well. These services include:
- Sales Forecasts — to quantify the sales potential for a new store or an expansion/relocation of an existing store.
- Sales Transfer Analysis —- to quantify the impact that a new store will have on an existing store.
- Problem Store Analysis — to identify areas where an existing store may underperform.
- Store Deployment Strategies for New Markets—to determine how many stores a market could support and where those stores should be located to maximize sales potential.
- Store In-Fill Strategies for Existing Markets —- to identify areas of a market that are underserved by the existing store deployment network and are large enough to successfully support a new store.
- Store Sales Distribution/Customer Distribution Mapping -— also known as CAT surveys (customer address and transaction).
- Consumer Research Studies —- to obtain crucial information regarding customer shopping habits, behavior, perceptions and opinions through customer interviews, telephone surveys, internet surveys or focus groups.
You will have an opportunity to meet Debbie at the 2008 CCMAConference in Portland, Oregon. Debbie is looking forward to meeting the members of the co-op community and learning more about your market and consumer research needs. “I will work hard to ensure that co-ops have all of the information that they need to make those critical decisions that are necessary for successfully growing their business in an increasingly complex and changing marketplace,” said Debbie.
For more information about Debbie and her company, visit her website at www.g2gresearch.com. If you would like more information about the market and consumer research services available to co-ops, or to request a proposal to quantify the sales potential for a new store location, or a relocation/expansion of an existing store, you can reach Debbie at 925-833-8524 orDebbieSuassuna@cdsconsulting.coop.