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Albertsons grows digital team with 2 hires

BY David Salazar

BOISE, Idaho — Albertsons has made some key hires in expanding its digital capabilities. The company on Tuesday announced that it had brought on Karl Varsanyi as group VP product management and user experience and Ramiya Iyer as group VP IT digital and marketing/merchandising.

The hires come as Albertsons builds out its digital marketing and e-commerce alongside its digital loyalty program, grows its e-commerce home delivery program and expands its range of digital and data capabilities.

“After being relatively unaffected by digital for many years, the grocery industry is starting to see several parts of the customer journey being transformed by digital,” Albertsons SVP digital marketing and e-commerce Narayan Iyengar said. “In this context, we need to continue to enhance our digital capabilities, and Karl and Ramiya will play a key role in this journey.”

Varsanyi joins Albertsons from Macy’s, where he was group VP of product management, strategy and experience, overseeing the department store’s growth into an omnichannel retail leader. At Albertsons he is responsible for the company’s web, app and in-store digital experience.

Iyer was most recently VP e-commerce for Levi’s, where she played a key role in creating and scaling its platforms and analytics capabilities. She has held various IT leadership roles at Walmart.com and SamsClub.com.

“The addition of these leaders with diverse and rich retail experiences will position us to accelerate our efforts to having a differentiated digital experience for our customers,” Albertsons EVP and chief information officer Anuj Dhanda said.

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Walmart rolls out new military employee pay policy

BY Marianne Wilson

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Walmart  is stepping up its commitment to its workers who serve in the military by covering the difference when an employee's military salary is less than what the person makes working at the store.

The discounter said it is expanding its military leave of absence policy, offering differential pay to all eligible military associates taking on assignments lasting more than three days and through the duration of leave — including basic training, to cover the difference in pay any time an employee's military salary is less than what he or she makes working at the store.

The enhancements, which go into effect June 24, mean that if an associate’s military salary is less than what they were making at their job at Walmart, the company will pay them the difference while they are on a military leave of absence. In 2016, Walmart associates took more than 4,400 military leaves of absence.

Walmart said it is one of the first major retailers to apply differential pay to include basic training, so associates who are considering enlisting in the armed forces can make that decision without fear of losing wages. In addition, Walmart is taking steps to streamline and simplify the internal process required to obtain differential pay with the goal of making it easier on associates and their families, so they can spend less time on paperwork and more time on their service.

“At Walmart, we’re turning jobs into fulfilling careers for veterans, active service members and their families, and we’re making it easier for them to work, live and serve,” said Retired Brigadier General Gary Profit, senior director of military programs for Walmart. “We believe that anyone who wants to serve in our Armed Forces should be able to do so without fear of losing wages or leaving their family in a lurch. The changes we’re making will remove financial barriers for all associates serving their country, including those who are starting their service journey through basic training.”

Walmart has hired more than 170,000 veterans since it announced its Veterans Welcome Home Commitment in May 2013, which guaranteed a job offer to any eligible, honorably discharged U.S. veteran who was within 12 months of active duty. Of those hires, more than 22,000 have been promoted to jobs with higher pay and greater responsibility, the chain said. 

The initial goal of the initiative was to hire 100,000 veterans by the end of 2018. In May  2015, Walmart announced the expansion of that original projection, with the goal of hiring 250,000 veterans by the end of 2020. Walmart has also changed the eligibility from within 12 months of active duty, to any veteran who has been honorably discharged since the announcement of the program in May 2013.

Walmart is also announcing a $100,000 grant to the Tragedy Assistance Program For Survivors (TAPS), the national organization that offers help, hope and healing to all those grieving the death of a loved one serving in the Armed Forces. The grant will enable TAPS to reach more survivors through their casework and emergency assistance programs.

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