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Dollar Tree appoints new CEO

BY Marianne Wilson

CHESAPEAKE, Va. — There's been a changing of the guard at Dollar Tree as the man who grew the chain into a $22 billion retail powerhouse moves into a new role.

The discounter has appointed Gary Philbin, enterprise president, as CEO, effective immediately. He succeeds Bob Sasser, who will become executive chairman of Dollar Tree's board.

Philbin, 60, joined Dollar Tree in 2001 as senior VP of stores, and was promoted to COO in 2007. He assumed the role of president and COO of Family Dollar upon its acquisition by Dollar Tree. In January 2017, Philbin was promoted to enterprise president with responsibilities for both Dollar Tree and Family Dollar banners.

"Bob (Sasser) has led Dollar Tree to industry-leading returns for shareholders and success for all of our stakeholders,” stated Philbin. “Our retail business model can operate successfully in tough times and good times, as we have demonstrated under Bob’s leadership as CEO.”

Sasser, 65, oversaw Dollar Tree's $9.1 billion acquisition of Family Dollar in 2015.  He joined Dollar Tree in 1999 as COO. He was promoted to president and COO in 2001, and to president and CEO in 2004.

During Sasser’s tenure, Dollar Tree grew from a company with fewer than 1,200 stores in 33 states; four distribution centers; and less than $1 billion in annual sales to a company with more than 14,500 retail stores; and an international supply chain with 24 distribution centers across North America. For 2017, revenues are projected to exceed $22 billion. The company completed six acquisitions during Sasser’s tenure.

"Working with our board of directors, I have been planning leadership succession for some time and we are confident this will be a seamless transition, both inside and outside of the company," Philbin stated. "Our board of directors and leadership team have complete confidence in Gary’s ability to lead Dollar Tree through its next phases of growth.”

Dollar Tree operates stores under the brands of Dollar Tree, Family Dollar and Dollar Tree Canada. 

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Walmart plans new home office

BY Marianne Wilson

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Even headquarters have a shelf life.

Walmart is planning to build a new, central headquarters — one better suited to a "digitally native" workforce — in its hometown of Bentonville, Arkansas. The discount giant revealed the news in a note by CEO Doug McMillion on the company's website.

Walmart traces its current home office back to 1971. Since then, its office footprint has grown without a holistic long-term plan, resulting in a patchwork of more than 20 buildings in Northwest Arkansas.

"For some time now, we’ve been concerned that this ad hoc office network actually inhibits our ability to compete in the rapidly changing retail landscape," McMillon wrote. "We need to be curious, collaborative, agile and accountable if we are to win in the future. We need a workplace that fosters those skills and traits."

Walmart will build its new home campus on a large tract of land located along J Street in Bentonville. McDillon said the new space would offer improved parking, meal services, fitness, and natural light. Also, it will be integrated into the community trail system, for easy walking and cycling access.

"We intend to bring most of our home office associates in Northwest Arkansas onto a central campus with accommodations for a more digitally native workforce and space that encourages greater collaboration and speed," McDillon said.

Walmart expects the new campus will take five to seven years to complete.

"There’s still a tremendous amount of planning, design and coordination to be done and the property must be readied before we even begin construction," McDillon said. "But today’s announcement formally kicks off the process of working with city and state officials, as well as other stakeholders, to move the project forward."

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Study: Mobile drove back-to-school e-commerce sales

BY David Salazar

PRINCETON, N.J. — Mobile commerce made the grade this back-to-school season, contributing to a 3% increase in overall e-commerce sales.

This was according to research from retail search marketing company NetElixir. The firm said mobile orders were up by 44%, and revenue was up by 64%. Mobile average order value (AOV) increased by 13%, indicating that consumers are now more comfortable using mobile devices for more expensive purchases. 
 
These levels eclipsed desktop usage and sales. Desktop orders were down 3%, and revenue increased by 2%. The study also found that AOV for desktop purchases increased by 4%.
 
For the back-to-school season specifically, desktop AOV increased by $5 from $127 in 2016 to $132 in 2017. Meanwhile, mobile AOV increased by $13 from $96 in 2016 to $109 in 2017, according to data.
 
“Every year, the spend on mobile just keeps accelerating, and we can confidently say that mobile sales percentage contribution will continue to increase,” said Udayan Bose, CEO, NetElixir.
 
“People are getting more comfortable making purchases directly on mobile devices, which means retailers need to be prepared to convert consumers on mobile,” continued Bose. “The good news is that the gap between average order value on desktop and mobile is decreasing. Historically, this gap has been about 30%-35%. With our back-to-school data, we see this gap coming down to under 15%, which means that the trend to spend less on mobile is waning.”
 
Data also revealed that consumers didn’t rely on their mobile devices solely for last-minute purchases, as they have in past years. This year, one major spike in purchasing activity from July 31-Aug. 2. Overall, the percentage of mobile sales was constant throughout this back-to-school season.

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