Willard “Bill” Bishop, a longtime leader in grocery and convenience retailing and founder of analytics and strategic insight firm Brick Meets Click, passed away March 25 at age 80, the Bishop family announced.
Bishop’s experience in the food retail business included a six-year stint, from 1970 to 1976, as vice president of research for the Supermarket Institute (now known as FMI–The Food Industry Association). In 1976, he then started his own business, Willard Bishop Consulting (WBC), in which he focused on a wide variety of projects, spanning grocery retail formats, pricing and activity-based costing.
Bishop and his wife Cathy operated WBC for 37 years, until they sold the business in 2008. After that, Bishop served as chairman until 2011—the same year he co-founded Brick Meets Click, which focuses on helping the grocery industry navigate the impact of digital technology and e-commerce, with his son Steve.
“After leading … Willard Bishop Consulting for almost four decades, he could have rested on his laurels. Instead, he took on the industry's newest challenge: how digital technology was changing the grocery industry. To that mission, he brought an unmatched depth of experience in the nuts and bolts of grocery retail operations and how grocery retailers think,” his family said in a release.
Bishop served as chief architect of Brick Meets Click until his recent retirement. The Barrington, Ill.-based company is led by Bishop’s children, Cindy Christian, Steve and David.
Bishop also helped create two Coca-Cola Retailing Research Councils—one focused on grocery and the other on convenience retail; taught Marketing Channels at the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University MBA program; served as a board member for Raley’s Fine Foods and The Food Institute; and in September 2020, was inducted into the Private Label Manufacturers Association’s Private Label Hall of Fame.
“Bill was always incredibly generous with his time, both personally and professionally. He was happy to lend an ear and offer thoughts on how to move forward or see things from a different perspective,” his obituary reads. “He also prioritized engaging with people and organizations where he saw an opportunity to make a difference—whether it be participating in many church activities, coordinating weekly neighborhood food drives for the local food pantry, or writing letters to politicians and companies … about what they could do better.”
A private celebration of life service for Bishop is being planned for mid-May in Barrington. His family is also working on coordinating a separate online memorial event to allow people from across the grocery industry to gather and honor Bishop.