May 22, 2014 – ARLINGTON, VA – The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) today announces the inception of new and original resource for senior merchandising executives throughout food retailing, the Senior Merchandising Executive (SME) Forum. The SME Forum will debut at the Association’s annual event, FMI Connect.

FMI organized the SME Forum in order to provide chief merchants from food retail in the U.S. and Europe, and interested non-food retailers around the globe, a meeting place and virtual network to address key issues that impact their individual and company’s performance in a unique, non-competitive environment.

“FMI recognizes that senior merchandising executives are key stakeholders within their organizations and they enable better trading partner collaboration,” says Mark Baum, senior vice president of industry relations and chief collaboration officer for FMI. “As part of FMI’s Total Store Collaboration platform, the SME Forum will become a part of a collaborative group of food retail and manufacturer leaders, to tackle industry-wide challenges and initiate large-scale transformative change.”

Baum further points out, “In addition to their role within Total Store Collaboration, the SME Forum will be a specialized community for retail merchants, generating value for our members by significantly increasing the engagement of retailers’ senior-most merchandising executives."

To facilitate the best environment for idea sharing and collaboration, the portfolio of services will include both a planned cadence of in-person scheduled events, as well as in smaller groups on specific topics as requested or required. There will also be several “content features,” inclusive of virtual one-hour roundtables on timely and topical issues, identified and prioritized by SME Forum participants.

FMI is working with Oliver Wyman, the Association’s strategy partner to organize and deliver this inaugural event, being held in conjunction with FMI Connect in Chicago on June 10.