WASHINGTON, DC — January 10, 2005 — Skyrocketing health care costs, growing bank service fees, new tax laws, and an increasingly competitive retail atmosphere are among the challenges that will be addressed at the 55th Annual Financial Executive Conference. Hosted by the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), the conference will be held May 22-24, at the Four Seasons Hotel in Miami, FL.

Opening the conference will be Eileen Scott, CEO, Pathmark Stores, Inc., who will give the keynote address. The conference will also feature Lehman Brothers’ Meredith Adler, who will share the annual outlook for food retailing from Wall Street.

“In today’s retailing world, financial executives are facing unprecedented challenges in almost every aspect of store operations,” said Joseph Adelhardt, senior vice president & controller, Pathmark Stores, Inc., and chairperson of the financial executive conference committee. “This conference will offer solutions to many of these complex problems and will provide a forum for executives to share innovative ideas that they may already be implementing.”

Key topics that will be addressed at the conference include:

  • Realities of Today’s Competition — Retailers and their suppliers are engaged in separate but complementary efforts to improve their value chains and performance in a changing marketplace. Efficiency and effectiveness sometimes seem to be mutually exclusive. The food industry will need clarity in goals, measurements and mutual processes to meet the realities of the changing retail landscape. This session will focus on competitive trends that will drive changes to key functions and the metrics needed to manage them.

  • Controlling Health Care Costs: Learning From Experience — Are health care costs rising out of control for all employers? Have some employers “broken the code” and identified effective cost-control strategies that really work? Must every benefit change result in a disgruntled workforce? This session will teach participants how their companies can tackle health-care costs by taking a look at what other employers have done, in addition to exploring ways that new trends of consumer-driven health care are being implemented and the impact they are having.

  • Controlling Bank Service Charges — With rapid changes taking place in retail payments — from the decrease in check payments to the mass migration to electronic payments — bank service fees are having a major impact on retail profitability. In this session, ideas and solutions geared at controlling what many retailers consider their fastest growing and least controllable expense — bank fees related to electronic payments — will be shared.

  • View From Washington — Four more years of President George W. Bush and an emboldened Republican majority in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. What does this mean for the food distribution industry and CFOs, treasurers and financial executives in particular? This session will offer a 30,000-foot overview, along with specifics such as whether to expect more Sarbanes-Oxley type challenges, and what the future holds for tax, social security and legal reform.

  • What’s New in Technology — Technology is constantly changing, driven by consumer behavior, industry initiatives, competitive challenges and global standards. As a grocer, falling behind the technology curve can be as disastrous as allowing store assets to deteriorate… the road back to competitiveness may be too long and too costly. This session will explore the primary trends a grocer should be tracking and the actions that should be taken immediately.

  • New Tax Laws, New SEC Rules, New Realities! What Supermarket Financial Executives Really Ought to Know — In this era of unprecedented regulatory enforcement and new rules from the SEC, IRS and PCAOB, this session will focus on how to keep private and public companies out of the cross hairs, as well as best practices and ideas to help effectively manage tax obligations.

  • Finance Function Transformation — The finance function is under more scrutiny than ever and is front and center in the media. This session will focus on the scorecard of finance transformation and why it is moving so slowly. Participants will learn practical ideas to help CFOs speed the transformation and current and future priorities for the finance function.

For additional information, please contact Pat Shinko (pshinko@fmi.org) or visit the FMI Web site at www.fmi.org.