JOB FILLED - Category Manager

Job Description: 

Are you looking for a unique opportunity to blend your passion and knowledge of food, data, trends, distribution, and the retail grocery industry? Independent Natural Food Retailers Association (INFRA) is seeking a Category Manager for our team! We have opportunities in Wellness as well as other category areas.

INFRA is a cooperative association of more than 300 independently owned natural food retailers serving hundreds of communities in 45 states plus DC & Puerto Rico. Through collective buying power, operational support and exchange, events and education, and innovative marketing programs, we help member businesses thrive in step with their values and communities, a fast-changing industry, and the planet we share. If you are looking to use your skills to help increase the impact of a mission-driven organization, start a conversation by submitting your resume and cover letter!

Everything we do at INFRA delivers value to our members. As a Category Manager, you will seek out ways to maximize our business partnerships with vendors, brokers, distribution, and more. You will influence the partners we work with, products our members have access to, and ultimately benefit customers who align with our mission. A successful Category Manager must have proven experience in understanding consumer needs, the retail environment, marketing, and sales principles. Category Managers have the opportunity to grow and expand their responsibilities into Senior Category Managers, if desired and as needed on the INFRA team, as outlined below. 

What you will own and improve:

Brand portfolio and relationship management
  • Manage assigned categories using all available resources, including analysis of both internal and syndicated data, (validated) manufacturer input and expertise, commodity reports, trade/industry news, consumer trends and customer feedback. Measure results and adjust plans as needed. 
  • Proactively manage the merchandising strategy for assigned categories, to include product assortment, pricing strategy, promotional activity.
  • Increase first to market opportunities within member stores.
Promotional plan success
  • Negotiate and confirm INFRA Deals contracts with brokers and vendors. Follow up on details, contract pricing, and discounts.
  • Actively participate in promotional planning process, including vendor marketing campaigns in collaboration with vendors and marketing.
  • Negotiate annual EDLP program with brokers and manufacturers in assigned categories.
  • Present and promote assigned category brands to member stores in collaboration with stakeholders, including distributors, vendors, INFRA staff, and/or Marketing.
Trends & data analysis
  • Use SPINS data to drive promotional decisions.
  • Review participation and sales by Distribution Center (DC) location, use insights to inform INFRA decisions, promotions decisions, vendor conversations, and member recommendations. 
  • Measure sales performance, item performance within category, and overall vendor funds management performance.
  • Provide members with tools and information to increase sales in assigned categories.
  • Continually derive new insights to deliver as compelling, data-driven storytelling
  • Senior Category Manager addition: Strategically connect trends and data throughout INFRA to build toward True North
Distribution & broker relationship management
  • Category Manager:

    • Inspire others by connecting the vendor, broker, distribution, INFRA, and member voices.
    • Maintain and improve stakeholder relationships and engagement through effective internal and external communication.
    • Advocate for vendor and member needs and assist problem resolution with distribution.
  • Senior Category Manager additions:

    • Broker business development
    • Maintain and foster relationships
    • Manage brokers incoming brand recommendations
Vendor growth opportunity
  • Category Manager:

    • Develop and support category reviews (including insights and trends), member education and training programs, and future promotional opportunities in partnership with INFRA Staff.
    • Develop and support, in partnership with INFRA staff, relationships with other industry alliances to support market opportunities in assigned categories (i.e. Fair Trade, OTA, NPA)
  • Senior Category Manager additions:

    • Vendor business development
    • Sell programs to vendors ID opportunities to capture more trade spend to increase revenue. 
    • Using data to identify opportunities. Use Industry and consumer trends to direct brand and vendor partnership goals, including promotional planning

What you already know:

  • Category Management and/or Purchasing experience required: Category Manager = 4-5 years, Sr. Category Manager = 9+ years plus experience in expanded accountabilities.
  • Experience working with distribution, brokers, or retailers in the grocery, natural foods, or equivalent industry required.
  • Experience in Wellness categories welcome but not required.
  • Digitally savvy, including familiarity with a variety of project management tools, relationship-focused business technology systems, analytics tools, and CRMs.
  • Enjoy deriving insights from data and using them for smart decision making.
  • Experience building business and revenue generation in a relationship-driven company using multiple approaches (pitches, meetings, 1:1s, long-term partnership planning)
  • Strong collaboration, innovation, and opportunistic mindset 
  • Knowledgeable of SPINS, category management, and pricing strategies and processes.
  • Able to manage and effectively prioritize multiple projects and deadlines while consistently delivering high quality results.   
  • Leadership acumen, including leading through influence.
  • Versatile understanding of how to engage others using a consulting mindset, including facilitation of large meetings, navigating effectively through complex issues, and developing sound recommendations based on effective research.
  • Able to establish great working relationships and communicate effectively with any audience, including confident communication and presentation skills.

What you will learn:

  • How to effectively collaborate to drive change with INFRA, our members, and our partners.
  • How to gain a deep understanding of INFRA’s unique position within the food industry and lead through influence to create positive outcomes.
  • How to align INFRAs business model with consumer behavior.
  • How to support members within the intricacies of the natural food industry and understand the intersections of manufacturing, distribution, and retail.

*Travel up to 20% is required for this position.
*This role is located in our St. Paul MN office as a part of our hybrid workforce, working a mix of flex days and 2+ days in office.

INFRA is committed to creating an inclusive workplace. We know that diversity of identities, experiences, and ways of thinking result in stronger lives for all our members and the communities we serve. Research shows that systemically excluded communities such as people of color, women, LGBTQIA+, and people with disabilities may be less confident in applying for positions where as little as one skill doesn’t appear to fit – we welcome your resume and encourage you to apply.

INFRA is a mission-driven organization that strongly believes in rightful living. We provide our employees with robust technology, collaboration, professional development, hybrid work options, flexible schedules, work-life balance, and time in person with our a tight-knit team and members. Each of us receives a full suite of employee benefits including paid vacation and sick time; health, dental, vision, disability, and life insurance; a health savings account; a 401(k) retirement plan; and more. 

Confidential Job: 
Last Resume Date: 
Thursday, June 2, 2022 - 7:46am
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