Personnel Updates

99 Cents Only named a former high ranking Kroger executive as President and CEO, just months after the retailer tapped former Walmart executives to fill the head merchant and CFO roles at the 389-store retailer.  Geoffrey Covert was named president and CEO at 99 Cents Only filling a position that had been held on an interim basis the past four months by board chairman Andrew Giancamilli. announced that Girish Lakshman, who most recently served as VP of Worldwide Transportation Strategy, Technology and Customer Returns, has left the company to accept a position with Sears Holdings Corp.

AutoZone, Inc. announced the following organizational changes, effective immediately. Mark Finestone, Senior VP, Merchandising and Store Development, has been promoted to Exec VP, Merchandising, Supply Chain, and Marketing.  Bill Graves, Senior VP, Supply Chain and International, has been promoted to Exec VP, Mexico, Brazil, IMC, and Store Development. Additionally, Tom Newbern, Senior VP, Store Operations and Loss Prevention, has been promoted to Exec VP, Store Operations, Commercial and Loss Prevention.

Family Dollar has announced that Senior VP and Chief Marketing Officer Jocelyn Wong, has left the company to become a Senior VP and GMM at Lowe’s Companies Inc.

Fred’s Super Dollar has named John Foley as the company’s Exec VP Store Operations. Mike Holligan, who formerly served in this capacity, will move to the open position of Regional VP Store Operations.

Gordmans Stores has named a veteran from Hancock Fabrics to take over as CFO.  The Omaha-based apparel and home decor retailer announced that James B. Brown has been appointed Exec VP and CFO.

Kmart has announced that Seth Marks has joined the company  as head of strategic merchandising.  Marks was a Senior VP Merchandising and Strategic sourcing for

Meijer has named Rob Keyes, a long time company executive, to be the company’s seventh president.  He succeeds J.K. Symancyk, who announced last week that he is stepping down to become president/CEO of Texas-based Academy Sports + Outdoors. Keyes has been with Meijer for 26 years, joining the company in 1989 as a pharmacist. He has been the company’s executive vice president of supply chain and manufacturing since 2006. announced that Seth Marks, its now former Senior VP of Merchandising and Strategic Sourcing has left the company.  Mr. Marks has joined Kmart as head of strategic merchandising.

PetSmart announced that former Save-A-Lot CFO Rob Anderson has joined PetSmart as its new CFO.

Sam’s Club has made some expansive personnel and strategy changes focused on merchandising: Seong Ohm is moving from Senior VP Merchandise Business Services to Senior VP Merchandise Solutions Todd Matherly is moving from Senior VP Merchandise Solutions to Senior VP Business Member Merchandising. Jason Shaw is moving from VP Merchandise Transformation to VP Category Management (a new position). George Agnacian is moving from VP Proprietary Brands to VP Sam’s Club Global Leverage. Greg Cathey is moving from VP Sam’s Global Leverage to VP and DMM, Regional Buying, Food and Beverage. Chandra Holt (formerly of Walgreens) will assume responsibility as VP Proprietary Brands. Russell Mounce has been promoted to VP and DMM, Produce. MiKaela Wardlaw Lemmon will change in reporting from Merchandising to Membership. Alex Aguila will change in reporting from Merchandising to Membership. The company has also created a new position of Vice President, Divisional Merchandise Manager of Meat, which it expects to fill soon.

Target announced the departure of Jason Ausili who most recently served as Health Quality Leader at Target, where he developed and executed healthcare quality strategy for over 1,660 pharmacy locations, focusing on improving health outcomes for patients and decreasing the overall cost of healthcare. Mr. Ausili now moves on to The National Association of Chain Drug Stores to become Director Pharmacy Affairs.

Target has named Anu Gupta to the newly created role of Senior VP of Operational Excellence to lead a dedicated team in simplifying and optimizing processes across the business to help the retailer become more agile in anticipating and meeting customer needs. She will report to John Mulligan. Mulligan was recently elevated to the position of Target’s first COO after previously serving as CFO.

Toys“R”Us has looked to a Loreal veteran to take over its human resources division. The retailer announced that it has named Tim Grace as Exec VP, Global Chief Talent Officer.  In this role, the company says Grace will oversee all global human resources functions, including organizational design, talent acquisition, succession planning, learning, change management and labor and employee relations, as well as compensation and benefits. He will report to Dave Brandon, Chairman and CEO, Toys“R”Us, Inc.

Tuesday Morning announced the surprising and abrupt of CEO Michael Rouleau.   Rouleau was never seen as a long-term leadership solution as Tuesday Morning’s CEO, but the veteran retailer’s abrupt departure with no immediate successor named reveals the off-price retailer lacked a succession plan.

Walmart has filled its empty chief merchant spot and named other executives to key leadership roles within the organization, including a new head merchant at Sam’s Club. Steve Bratspies was named Chief Merchandising Officer for Walmart U.S. stores, filling a position that had been vacant since the departure of Duncan Mac Naughton a year ago. Bratspies will oversee all merchandise categories across more than 4,500 stores in the U.S. business and will continue to report Walmart U.S. president and CEO Greg Foran. Bratspies promotion created an opportunity for Walmart to shift Charles Redfield from his role as Sam’s Club’s Exec VP of Merchandising to the role of Executive VP of Food for Walmart U.S. Filling Redfield’s role, is long time Sam’s merchant John Furner.

Walmart has announced that after more than two decades in top finance roles at Walmart, Charles Holley is stepping down as CFO.  Succeeding Holley will be Brett Biggs, the finance executive who joined Walmart in 2000 and has held key roles in each of the retailer’s divisions.


Financial Focus

AutoZone, Inc. reported net sales for the fiscal year ended August 29, 2015, Reported sales were $10.2 billion, an increase of 7.5% from the prior year, while domestic same store sales were up 3.8% for the year. 

Microsoft Corp. announced that revenues for the year ended June 30, 2015 were $93.6 billion, up from $86.8 billion for fiscal 2014.

Ollie’s Bargain Outlet delivered strong sales growth in its first quarter as a public company and expects the second half of the year will see more of the same from its rapidly expanding store based and extreme value positioning.  Ollie’s now operates 190 stores and sales for its second quarter ended Aug. 1 increased 19% to $182 million thanks to a 7.8% same store sales increase and the addition of 15 new stores during the first half of the year.


Industry Insight

Anna’s Linens sold all intellectual properties and its brand at an auction on Sept 17, 2015.  All stores were closed earlier.

Conn’s has indicated ambitious growth plans with the opening of a 50,000-sq.-ft. store in Augusta, its first in the state of Georgia, and a 46,000-sq.-ft. store near Denver, its seventh store in Colorado, Conn’s is set to open its 100th store next month. The milestone is noteworthy, but the 100th opening will be but one of 20 stores the retailer expects to open by the time its fiscal year ends early next year.


Green Initiatives/Sustainability

Walmart has taken a big step towards becoming 100% supplied by renewable energy. The discounter entered into a long-term power purchase agreement to buy the majority of the electricity generated by Pattern Energy Group’s new Logan’s Gap Wind facility. The 200 megawatt facility is in Comanche County, Texas.

“Walmart has a goal to be supplied by 100 percent renewable energy, and sourcing from wind energy projects – like the Logan’s Gap Wind Facility – is a core component in the mix,” said Mark Vanderhelm, VP of energy for Walmart.    “The energy we’ll procure from this facility represents nearly one-fifth of the U.S. portion of our goal to source seven billion kilowatt hours of renewable energy by 2020. That’s a significant leap forward on our renewable energy journey.”

The facility will sell 75% of the electricity produced to Walmart and a financial institution. Walmart has a 10-year agreement with Pattern to acquire 58% of the expected output from the facility.

Walmart has not set a date for achieving its goal of being supplied by 100% renewable energy. But the chain recently reaffirmed its commitment to renewable energy by joining RE100, a global initiative led by The Climate Group.