Walgreens taps veteran to head CCR

DEERFIELD, Ill. Signaling its determination to continue the aggressive rollout of its new, more customer-focused store design and merchandising strategy, Walgreens named 20-year company veteran Mike Arnoult to the post of VP Customer Centric Retailing. Arnoult, who begins his post immediately, replaces Chong Bang, who left the company Dec. 18 to become SVP merchandising at Shoppers Drug Mart.

Arnoult, who last served as head of online merchandising, will head up the chain’s fast-expanding CCR project, and oversee its expansion to nearly 3,000 stores by the end of the calendar year. He will report to VP merchandising Bryan Pugh.

Launched in late 2008 as part of a massive, top-to-bottom overhaul of Walgreens’ business and marketing strategies, CCR was designed to better coordinate the chain’s sprawling merchandising and buying activities to better meet and anticipate customer demands, cut bloated inventories and improve front-end turnover and sales. The effort has led to a significant reduction in the SKU count and product redundancies in Walgreens’ store prototype, a major realignment of categories and adjacencies at the front end, and an ongoing effort to align the chain’s purchasing and store presentation with localized consumer demand.

Arnoult will take the reins of one of Walgreens’ highest-priority projects. By late 2009, the 7,147-store retail giant had rolled the CCR format into 400 stores, mostly in Texas, and was tracking consumer acceptance of the redesigned store format and shopping experience.

"Customer response to the initiative, designed to improve the overall shopping experience and increase both the number of customer visits and basket size, has been positive," Walgreens noted.

In a statement, the company credited Arnoult for his "knowledge and experiences [that] will allow him to continue the successful rollout of CCR.

"His ability to build relationships and collaborate across the organization will be invaluable in this role," said company spokesperson Tiffani Washington.

For the past year, Arnoult held the role of VP online merchandising.

"Previously he had 19 years of experience in store operations in various management roles as store manager, district manager and store operations vice president," the company said.

In other personnel moves, Walgreens promoted former director of online operations Miguel Almeida to divisional VP online merchandising, along with his current oversight of multi-channel operations. Jasbir Patel, a 21-year company veteran of operations and merchandising, will be promoted to director and GMM online photo.

Both Almeida and Patel will report to Sona Chawla, SVP e-commerce.

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