retail news in context, analysis with attitude

• William Davila, the former president of Vons in Southern California who also served as the chain's high-profile spokesman, has passed away of complications related to Alzheimer's disease. He was 82.

The Los Angeles Times notes that he was "a first-generation Mexican American who worked his way up from sweeping floors at a Vons market to being president of the supermarket chain," and that "he pushed initiatives during his tenure to boost the company's standing among Latino consumers, including opening several specialty supermarkets. At a Mexican American Grocers Assn. convention in 1986, he grew frustrated with food companies that still seemed reluctant to expand into neighborhoods with large Latino populations."

After taking early retirement in 1990, Davila "established an educational foundation that gives scholarships to Latino students who intend to work in the grocery industry," the Times writes.
KC's View:
In so many ways, it seems to me, Davila was ahead of his time - recognizing the importance of the Latino market long before many others did, and helping to create a format - Tianguis, a Hispanic-themed superstore crated by Vons that operated in the late eighties and early nineties - that to this day remains of the industry's more memorable attempts to cater to that market.