Family Dollar creates SVP merchandise operations

Move seen by Wall Street analysts as a positive; will help improve operational efficiencies

MATTHEWS, N.C. — Family Dollar Stores on Monday named Scott Zucker to the newly created position of SVP merchandise operations. Zucker will be responsible for driving the strategy and execution of merchandise initiatives, category management, merchandise planning and replenishment.

The appointment was welcomed on Wall Street. "We believe that [Zucker's] experience in pricing and merchandise operations could prove valuable as the company works to better manage the impact of its merchandising initiatives on mix and markdowns," wrote Citi Research analyst Deborah Weinswig in a note published Monday morning. 

Analysts have been concerned that Family Dollar, along with other dollar channel operators, would be facing increasing pressure from lower margins tied to sharper promotions. And their customer base is supposed to be challenged, with more middle-income shoppers gravitating toward higher-end retail outlets even as the discretionary dollars of their lower-income shoppers were challenged by rising gas prices and January's "payroll tax."

"This sector of the market was supposed to be finished as things got better and people shopped at Target and Costco," remarked Jim Cramer Monday on an episode of "The Street."  But that's not happening, he said. Cramer was bullish on the sector in the wake of a positive Dollar General quarter on Monday, though he was not as high on Family Dollar.  

Improving operations in a meaningful way may help change that perception at Family Dollar. "This new alignment will allow for improved execution, simplified operational processes, inventory optimization and faster strategic decision-making," stated Michael Bloom, Family Dollar president and COO. "Scott brings a wealth of leadership and experience in merchandising, supply chain planning and information technology, all of which will provide tremendous support of our long-term strategic goals."

Zucker will report to Bloom. 

Zucker joined Family Dollar in 2006 as divisional VP pricing. In 2007 he was promoted to VP merchandise operations, and most recently, Zucker served as VP IT solutions.

Prior to joining Family Dollar, Zucker was with BearingPoint Consulting. After graduating from Davidson College, he started his retail career with Belk. He earned his MBA from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in 1997.

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