Personnel Updates:
Barnes & Noble announced that Miwa Messer has been named Director of the Discover Great New Writers program.
Big Lots, Inc. announced that Joe R. Cooper has been appointed President of Big Lots Canada while retaining his responsibilities as Exec VP and CFO of Big Lots, Inc.
Family Dollar Stores announced that it has named Christopher Nielsen to the position of VP Loss Prevention.
Office Depot has combined its two largest divisions and named Kevin Peters to the new role of President of North America. The change gives Peters, who previously served as President of North American Retail, continuing oversight of the retail group in addition to leadership of the company’s North American Business Solutions Division which is focused on large and mid-size commercial customers.
The change means Steve Schmidt, who previously served as President of the North American business solutions division will assume a new role as Exec VP Corporate Strategy and New Business Development.
Meanwhile, other executives will take on new or expanded responsibilities. The company named Bob Moore Exec VP and Chief Marketing Officer, while Farla Efros was named interim head of Merchandising.  Other changes at the company involved the appointment of Michael Allison as Exec VP HR following the retirement of Daisy Vanderlinde.
In addition to the departure of Vanderlinde, Monica Luechtefeld, Exec VP of e-Commerce and Direct Marketing, is retiring and her duties will be assumed by Barry Litwin, VP e-Commerce and Christine Buscarino, VP Direct and Customer Marketing.
OfficeMax announced that Steve Parsons has been appointed Exec VP and Chief Human Resources Officer.
Pet Supplies “Plus” announced that Dave Bolen was promoted to President and CEO.   Harvey Solway has been promoted from CEO to Executive Chairman.
Staples has announced the promotion of Christine Putur to CIO.
Walmart announced that it has named Morten Knudsen to be its new CFO for Asia. He replaces Roland Lawrence, one of several Walmart Asia execs who left the company recently for other opportunities.
Mergers and Acquisitions:

Big Lots, Inc. announced the completion of the purchase of Liquidation World Inc. This represents the first expansion of the company’s retail operations outside of the United States.
Industry Insight:

hhgregg has opened 10 new stores in south Florida, launching simultaneous grand-opening celebrations on July 14.  The new stores located in Miami, Broward and Palm Beach counties bring the total number of Hhgregg stores in Florida to 33. The openings are in the communities of Aventura, Boca Raton, Ft. Lauderdale, Hialeah, Pembroke Pines, Miami, Plantation, Jensen Beach, East Wellington and West Palm Beach.
Hobby Lobby has signed three leases to occupy 227,450 sq. ft. of former Mervyn’s locations in California.  The three new stores, firsts to their respective markets, include a 76,211-sq.-ft. location in Temecula, a 76,248-sq.-ft. location in Roseville and a 74,991-sq.-ft. location in Rancho Cucamonga.  The stores are projected to open this fall.
The three Hobby Lobby locations are the second, third and fourth in the state of California, following the opening of the first location in Visalia, Calif., last year.
Walmart opened its first Chicago-area Express store, a 10,000 square foot store that also is said to be an indicator of Walmart’s broader urban strategy.
Real Estate:

Blockbuster Video, under the guise of its new owner, plans to keep 1,500 locations open, closing just 200 stores that it acquired the bankrupt company out of bankruptcy earlier this year.
Five Below made its Michigan debut, opening five stores in the Detroit metro area.  Detroit is seen as a pivotal market as it helps bridge the company’s presence in Cleveland and Chicago.  The company entered the Chicago market earlier this summer.. The company sees a potential for developing this market to include as many as 25 stores over the next two to three years.
Meijer announced that it is opening a new concept store in the Chicago suburb of Melrose park that will provide a tailored grocery offering and a broad variety of general merchandise.  Called Meijer Marketplace, the new store will be 96,000 sq. ft., about half the size of Meijer’s largest supercenters. 
Meijer Marketplace is aimed at a more diverse group of customers. Meijer Marketplace grocery offerings will include a focus on Hispanic and Italian foods to better serve the ethnically-diverse community nearby.  
In addition to grocery, Meijer marketplace will offer a full-service pharmacy.  The store will maintain a flexible layout that allows Meijer planners to bring in new items based on customer feedback.
Chicago has become a hotbed for retail activity, with Walmart breaking ground on the first of its Chicago-area stores and CityTarget opening recently at the Sullivan center. Though Meijer should expect some competition from Walmart and Target, its location of Meijer Marketplace in Melrose Park is far enough away from each retailer that it can cement its place as the go-to destination in that community.
Microsoft hopes to open 75 freestanding Microsoft stores within the next two to three years.
Walmart announced its official presence in Chicago with the news that it has begun work on a new supercenter in Chatham. According to the company, the store will give more options to residents of Chicago‘s South Side neighborhood while at the same time creating approximately 400 jobs. The store, one of nine new locations now planned in the city, is scheduled to open in spring of 2012.
In June 2010, Walmart announced the “Chicago Community Investment Partnership,” a five-year plan to open several dozen stores, create approximately 10,000 jobs and 2,000 unionized construction jobs, generate more than $500 million in sales and property taxes and develop charitable partnerships worth $20 million.
Walmart’s plans in the city include the following projects:
  • Supercenter in Pullman at 111th St. and South Doty Ave. (spring 2013)
  • Supercenter in West Chatham at 83rd St. and Stewart Ave. (spring 2012)
  • Walmart Market in the West Loop at West Monroe St. and South Jefferson St. (fall 2011)
  • Walmart Market in West Englewood at West 76th St. and South Ashland Ave. (spring 2012)
  • Walmart Market in Lake View at Broadway and Surf (winter 2012)
  • Walmart Express in West Englewood at South Western Ave. and West 71st St. (winter 2012)
  • Walmart Express in West Chatham at 83rd St. and Stewart Ave. (summer 2011)
  • Walmart Express in River North at Franklin and Chicago Avenues (fall 2011)
  • Walmart Express in Wrigleyville at Broadway and Addison (winter 2011)
Technology News:

Michaels is using a mobile-optimized site application and mobile coupons to drive in-store traffic. Michaels is rolling out the mobile initiatives in response to hearing consumers’ needs for easier, on-the-go tools that can be used in stores.