Personnel Updates:

Brookstone announced that Thomas Via has moved to the company to become President and CEO as of Dec. 1, after spending 12 years in various executive roles at Toys R Us.  Via, whose career also includes stops at Wal-Mart Canada, Payless ShoeSource and Kmart, said he plans to focus on building the Brookstone brand at home and abroad.

Conn’s announced the departure of CFO Brian Taylor. It also commenced a search to fill newly created positions of President and Chief Risk Officer and established a new credit risk and compliance committee of the board of directors. Filling the CFO role on an interim basis is Mark Haley who joined the company in October as VP and Chief Accounting Officer.

Gordmans Stores announced that Lisa Evans has joined the retailer as Exec VP and Chief Merchandising Officer

Guitar Center announced that CEO Mike Pratt resigned and immediately left the company.

Guitar Center has chosen retailing veteran Darrell Webb to be the company’s new President and CEO. From 2011 to 2013, Webb served as Chairman and CEO of the Sports Authority.  Mr. Webb replaced former CEO Mike Pratt who resigned from the company two weeks earlier.

Guitar Center has named Michael Amkreutz to the position of Exec VP Marketing, Merchandising and E-Commerce.  He had been the Chief Marketing Officer at Systemax North American Technologies, Amkreutz will be responsible for all aspects of GC’s marketing campaigns, product assortment, in-store merchandising and e-commerce strategy.

Pep Boys has retained the executive search firm Spencer Stuart to conduct a search for a CEO following the resignation of former CEO Mike Odell in late September.

Target has announced that Jacqueline Hourigan Rice joined Target on Dec. 1, as the retailer’s Senior VP of Risk and Compliance after holding a similar role at General Motors.  In her new role Rice will assume some responsibilities previously held by Ann Scovil who retired in March as VP of Assurance, Risk and Compliance. Rice will also have responsibility for corporate security and Target’s suppliers. She will report directly to Target CEO Brian Cornell who joined the company in August.

Her appointment follows other recent moves the retailer has taken to bolster security following a massive data breach last Christmas. In June, the company named former GM executive Brad Maiorino as Chief Information Security Officer to report to Bob DeRodes who was named CIO in April to replace Beth Jacob.

Walmart’s merchandising organization is being transformed again following the departure of Exec VP and Chief Merchandising Officer Duncan Mac Naughton.  In conjunction with Mac Naughton’s departure, the retailer announced several other changes involving senior merchandising leaders including:

•    Steve Bratspies will transition from his role as Exec VP of General Merchandise to Exec VP of Food. Current Exec VP of food Jack Sinclair will aid in Bratspies’ transition before assuming an unspecified role at a later date.
•    Andy Barron will retain his role as Exec VP of Softlines and will assume responsibility for General Merchandise.
•    Michelle Gloeckler will remain Exec VP of consumables and U.S. Manufacturing and gain oversight of the health and wellness business overseen by Senior VP Labeed Diab.
•    John Aden will remain in his current role as Exec VP of Sales Innovation and Scott Huff will remain in his current role as Exec VP of Merchandising Operations.

Walmart’s globalization of domestic operations continued with the appointment of Judith McKenna to the role of COO for Walmart U.S.  Previously McKenna served as chief development officer for Walmart U.S.  Prior to that role she served briefly as Executive Vice President of Strategy and International Development for Walmart International and as COO and CFO of Walmart’s largest International subsidiary, Asda Stores in the United Kingdom.

Walmart announced that Gisel Ruiz has been appointed Exec VP of Walmart’s International People Division.  Ms. Ruiz had been COO for Walmart U.S and has been succeeded by Judith McKenna in that role.


Industry Insight:

Alco Stores announced going-out-of-business sales have begun at the regional discounter’s 198 locations.  Alco was founded 113 years ago.  The company filed for bankruptcy on October 12. On approaching Black Friday, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Dallas approved an order authorizing Tiger Capital Group, SB Capital Group and Great American Group to liquidate $260 million in inventory, fixtures and equipment at Alco’s 198 locations in 23 states along with a 325,000-sq.-ft. distribution center in Abilene, Kan.


Green Initiatives/Sustainability:

Walmart is fulfilling its promise earlier this year to make a big investment in solar energy: The retailer has accepted bids from SunEdison and SolarCity to install as many as 400 new solar systems on its facilities over the next four years.

The company said it estimates that the solar systems will meet 10% to 30% of the energy needs of the facilities where they will be installed. Walmart currently has 260 operational solar plants at its stores, representing 105 megawatts of installed solar capacity. This makes Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, also the largest corporate user of solar energy in the United States.

Walmart installed its first on-site solar project in the United States in 2005. At the end of 2013, Walmart had more than 335 renewable energy projects in operation, providing more than 2.2 billion kilowatt hours of renewable electricity annually.

The company has said it is committed to 100% renewable energy by 2020.