Fleming (NYSE:FLM) on Friday (5 January) announced Joe Villarreal has been named to the position of Vice President of Ethnic Procurement, effective immediately.

Villarreal reports to Phil Murphy, Senior Vice President, Procurement.

"Joe brings a strong background in category management, procurement and inventory management that will strengthen our management team," said Murphy. "Joe's experience and team-building skills along with the ability to find creative and innovative solutions will serve our retail customers well."

Villarreal comes to Fleming from Hispanic Events Marketing Group (HEMG), a full-service marketing and consulting company, where he held the position of Vice President. Prior to HEMG he was with H.E. Butt Grocery Company for eleven years, where he held various positions from pharmacist manager and unit director to procurement officer. He previously owned and operated Villarreal Pharmacies. Joe has a B.S. in Pharmacy from the University of Texas at Austin. "I am excited about Fleming's opportunities for growth. I believe a strong national ethnic procurement strategy that offers manufacturers a consistent nationwide distribution opportunity will deliver the right assortment and selection at the right price to our retail customers," stated Villarreal.

"Fleming recognizes that one of our strengths is an ethnically diverse customer base and associate population," said Scott Northcutt, Executive Vice President, Human Resources. "Joe's experience developing marketing programs tailored to ethnic consumers enhances our value proposition to our retailer customers. Internally, we will continue to implement initiatives to attract and accommodate ethnically diverse associates." Fleming's initiatives are centered on clear communications that include bilingual correspondence, signs, warehouse paging, training and orientation meetings. Introductory business conversational Spanish classes are currently being conducted, and English as a Second Language classes are planned for this year. "These actions are centered around our philosophy of servant leadership to create a more open and supportive culture that contributes to making Fleming a great place to work," said Northcutt.

Fleming is a $15 billion company and industry leader in distribution and has a growing presence in value retailing. Fleming's primary business is buying and selling merchandise. The company serves approximately 3,000 supermarkets, including more than 800 North American stores of global supermarketer IGA, franchises of Piggly Wiggly and other regional banners, 3,000 convenience stores and nearly 1,000 supercenters, discount, limited assortment, drug, specialty, e-tailers and other businesses across the country.