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Publix announces six executive promotions for New Year

BY Michael Johnsen

 LAKELAND, Fla. — Publix on Thursday announced six new officer positions that will begin work in 2013 across human resources, information technology and retail operations. 

“I am pleased we have so many leaders ready to take the next step in their careers,” stated Publix CEO Ed Crenshaw. “Our ability to promote from within highly talented individuals and perpetuate our Publix culture is a hallmark of our success.”

In retail operations, Chuck Roskovich will become division VP for the Charlotte Division. Roskovich began his Publix career in 1975 as a front-service clerk and spent much of his early career in the meat department. He became a store manager in 1993, district manager in 1995, regional director in 2000, Atlanta division VP in 2008 and SVP product business development in 2011.

“Chuck’s extensive leadership experience and his passion for retail store operations will help make our entry into North Carolina a great success,” Crenshaw said. 

In human resources, Alison Midili-Smith has been named VP talent and organizational development. Midili-Smith began her Publix career in 1996 as manager of selections. She was promoted to director of employment and staffing in 1999 and director of organizational development in 2004. Her areas of responsibility will include associate relations, diversity, policies and procedures, training and leadership development, recruiting and employee assistance programs. 

Midili-Smith graduated from Emory University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and earned her doctorate from University of South Florida in industrial/organizational psychology.

Erik Katenkamp will assume the role of VP information systems — application development. His areas of support responsibility will include merchandising, distribution, manufacturing, pharmacy, risk management, accounting, facilities, real estate, CQA and other support departments. Katenkamp began his Publix career in 1995 as an industrial engineer in the bakery plant. He was promoted to business IT manager in 1999 and director of business application delivery in 2006. Katenkamp graduated from University of Central Florida with a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering.

Renee Kelly also has been named VP information systems — application development. Her areas of support responsibility include supply chain/order management, retail operations, payment systems and human resources. Kelly began her Publix career in 1983 as a programmer. She was promoted to business IT manager in 1995, director of business IT alignment in 1997 and director of business application delivery in 2006. Kelly graduated from Florida Southern College with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics.

Tom Larson has been named VP information systems — engineering and operations. Larson joined Publix in 2006 as director of IS engineering. His areas of responsibility include engineering, data center operations, telecommunications and support organizations including customer support, network support and technology services. Larson graduated from University of Georgia with a bachelor’s degree in computer science.

And Steve Wellslager will be named VP information systems — architecture and security. Wellslager began his Publix career in 1988 as a programmer. He was promoted to application delivery manager in 1996 and director of architecture and engineering in 2006. His areas of responsibility include enterprise architecture and application services, I/S security and compliance, database administration, data warehousing, access management and customer service systems. Wellslager graduated from Florida Southern College with a bachelor’s degree in computer information systems.

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Despite deceleration in sales momentum, Walmart expects profitable holiday season

BY Mike Troy

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Walmart maintained an optimistic outlook for the holiday season despite a 1.5% third-quarter comp increase that reflected a modest deceleration in sales momentum seen earlier this year.

Total company sales increased 3.4% to $113.2 billion, with the U.S. stores division advancing 3.6% to $66.1 billion — thanks to the combination of the 1.5% same stores sales increase and new store growth. Company profits increased at a slightly faster pace, with net income advancing 9.5% to $3.825 billion, and earnings per share increasing 11.3% to $1.08, a penny better than analysts’ forecast and toward the upper end of the company’s guidance range of $1.04 to $1.09.

Wal-Mart Stores president and CEO Mike Duke said the company was "very pleased" with its financial performance as the company achieved its goal of leveraging expenses to deliver on a commitment to reduce costs, improve productivity and invest in price.

"Our disciplined approach to operating the business and to the productivity loop drove profitability and expense leverage," Duke said. "Our fundamentals are strong, and we are well-positioned for the fourth quarter, including innovative plans to drive traffic, especially in our U.S. stores."

Duke said Walmart’s strong price position and broad assortment would give the company a clear competitive advantage during the holidays in the U.S. and worldwide.

"Across all of our markets, we are seeing the same price consciousness as we do in the United States. More customers are part of a growing global middle class, looking for quality, value and a better life, and our EDLP model matters to these customers," Duke said.

The company’s U.S. customers appeared to take a bit of a breather in advance of the holidays as same store sales growth of 1.5%, while within a guidance range that called for a 1% to 3% increase, was a modest deceleration from an on-plan 2.2% increase in the second quarter and an expectation beating 2.6% first-quarter increase. The first and second quarter gains came against prior year declines. However, the third-quarter figure marked the first time the company was up against a prior year increase, as the 1.3% gain in the third quarter of 2011 marked the first time Walmart’s U.S. comps turned positive after a two-year string of negative numbers.

"We again delivered strong sales across the business, adding $2.3 billion in revenue," said Walmart U.S. president and CEO Bill Simon. "We’re excited about the fourth quarter. November sales started ahead of plan. Our Black Friday plans are innovative and designed to drive additional traffic in our stores. We expect strong performance through Thanksgiving weekend."

The company forecast fourth-quarter comps will increase in the range of 1% to 3%, but it is up against a fourth quarter the prior year when same store sale increased 1.5%.

"Current macroeconomic conditions continue to pressure our customers," said Walmart CFO Charles Holley. "The holiday season is predicted to be very competitive, but we are well prepared to deliver on the value and low prices our customers expect."

For the full year, Walmart tightened, but didn’t increase its profit forecast to a range of $4.88 to $4.93 compared to prior guidance of $4.83 to $4.93.

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Target ready for holiday shopping season with increase in 3Q sales

BY Mike Troy

MINNEAPOLIS — A 2.9% third-quarter same-store sales increase and the sale of its credit card business pushed Target’s third-quarter profit up 17.6% to 96 cents a share.

Total sales increased 3.4% to $16.6 billion in the third quarter due to the 2.9% comp increase and the benefit of a net increase of 18 stores compared to the prior year. Target ended the period with 1,781 stores and was up against a challenging prior year comparison when comps advanced 4.3%.

"We’re pleased with Target’s third-quarter financial performance, which reflects superb execution across each of our business segments," said Gregg Steinhafel, chairman, president and CEO of Target. "We are well-positioned to deliver strong fourth-quarter performance by offering compelling merchandise and unbeatable value through initiatives like the Target/Neiman Marcus Holiday Collection, 5% REDcard Rewards and our new Holiday Price Match, which allow our guests to shop at Target with confidence throughout the holiday season."

Earnings per share increased 17.6% to 96 cents from 82 cents, but that figure includes a 15 cent benefit from the pending sale of the company’s credit card receivables portfolio and expenses related to next year’s entry into Canada. On an adjusted basis, excluding the impact of expenses related to Canada, earnings per share increased 4.3% to 90 cents from 86 cents.

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