Category Management Handbook

CMOY Tobacco: Ruth Ann Lilly

Lilly, senior category manager of tobacco/OTP and alcohol beverages for Sunoco Inc., Newtown Square, Pa., has more than 25 years of experience in the c-store and grocery industries.

Q: What are you most excited about in the category today?

A: This has yet to be executed, but I am excited about our new smokeless set. We’ve expanded space for OTP, and [we’ve] gotten even more granular and have grouped all of our moist smokeless tobacco pouches, all brands and manufacturers, in one high-profile section. Since these items are driving the volume and are often the items that new users to the category will buy, this will highlight them for both the customer and our store personnel.

Q: What most inspires you in your career?

A: Collaboration with the category and brand teams as well as operations is very important to success. We are all in this together—it is about the whole store. We have a robust space planning department that helps us all think about things differently and make better, more objective decisions. And the folks in operations are my customers. So building a strong sense of team with them has never been more important, especially as we grow.

Q: What’s on your mind as you plan ahead this year?

A: One focus for me is on our franchise operations. These businesses have chosen the APlus brand, and it is my job to offer them robust plans around merchandising, promotions and pricing. There are many untapped resources from our supplier partners that I’ll leverage on their behalf. Riding stores with them and getting a better understanding of their challenges will be important and, at the same time, [will help] them build relationships with these same suppliers.

“Ruth Ann Lilly is a poster child for professionalism and execution in her field.”

Tobacco: What to Watch

Cigarette Sales

Smokeless Sales

Cigar Sales

CMOY Tobacco/OTP: Matt Hieb

View the full 2016 Category Management Handbook

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