We Appreciate You, Associates!
Exceptional Results are Work of Entire Team
We appreciate you! I begin this month’s column by thanking each of you for your dedication, commitment and passion in serving our country’s Soldiers, Airmen and their families.
Impressively, earnings have been very strong at $367 million—almost 7 percent better than expected. These exceptional results are the work of the entire team—store associates, cashiers, warehouse workers, truck drivers, call-center representatives and headquarters associates—pulling together, united in our commitment to serve those who serve.
Accomplishments amid challenges
It is a tremendous accomplishment to maintain this level of financial performance and, in turn, dividends, despite continued challenges affecting our business.
For example, the number of active-duty Soldiers in 2012 was 570,000. This number is projected to decrease to 475,000 this October because of the drawdown of military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Another 25,000 Soldiers are set to exit in the next two years.
Although 2016 will be another challenging year, I am confident we will exceed expectations.
Three recent examples of your ability to secure results include the MILITARY STAR® card; bakery and water-plant operations in Europe; and first-run movies and premieres downrange.
Last October, we launched the MILITARY STAR rewards program. Our goal was to acquire 11,000 more MILITARY STAR customers in the first year—we acquired 12,000 in just four months!
Cashiers, sales associates, visual merchandisers and retail managers, your active promotion of the card and its rewards benefits to our customers made the MILITARY STAR launch a resounding success.
I am also pleased to inform you that the Exchange’s Gruenstadt bakery and water bottling plant team has achieved profitability and no longer relies on taxpayer support for utility expenses. This is a tremendous accomplishment.
Partnering with Disney and Sony, the Exchange premiered the latest Star Wars movie and “The Finest Hours” downrange during the holidays. Troops and their leaders deeply appreciated these events.
For example, Gen. John Campbell, commander of Resolute Support/United States Forces—Afghanistan, said in a letter of appreciation to the Exchange that the Star Wars premiere “. . . significantly increased morale during the holiday season.”
Continuing a successful formula
Our strategy for success has been working: growing sales by introducing new brands and a modern online shopping experience; controlling expenses; and delivering exceptional customer service. This formula remains the same for 2016.
Each of us must focus on improving sales and controlling expenses. Opportunities still exist to reduce expenses. I’m highly confident you are up to meeting the challenges of 2016.
A call to greater results
The Exchange family is a part of the military family; the military family is a part of the Exchange family.
We are family serving family.
As a team, we have done exceptionally well during a few difficult years. As the Army continues to get smaller and the retail industry becomes more competitive, we are called to achieve even greater results.
As a team, we will make 2016 highly successful.