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Walgreens fine-tunes senior leadership, creates greater synergy between merchandising, operations arms

BY Michael Johnsen

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens recently fine-tuned its merchandising leadership structure, most notably elevating Jim Jensen to VP daily living implementation and space planning, where he will be looking at maximizing merchandising initiatives against space optimization in the stores. Moe Alkemade will assume the role of general merchandise manager handling seasonal, sundries and consumables; and Beth Stiller has been named group VP retail brands and global sourcing. 

All appointments are effective Nov. 4. 

These changes are coming about as "something that both [Mark Wagner, president operations and community management] and [Alex Gourlay, EVP, president of customer experience and daily living] have been talking about [since August] in how they want to align their areas," Michael Polzin, Walgreens spokesman, explained. "It’s having the right leadership in the right area."

The alignment is meant to better enhance Walgreens’ ability to realize the chain’s three strategic objectives — creating the Well Experience, transforming community pharmacy and establishing an efficient global platform — by better aligning Walgreens’ merchandising and operations arms. 

Walgreens originally announced the enhanced Daily Living business organization in August.

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Safeway begins exit of Chicago market

BY Michael Johnsen

PLEASANTON, Calif. — Safeway on Thursday announced, as part of its plan to exit the Chicago market, it has sold four of its Dominick’s stores in the greater Chicago area to New Albertsons, which operates Jewel-Osco grocery stores.  

Safeway announced today that it intends to exit the Chicago market altogether, where it operates 72 Dominick’s stores, by early 2014. "We expect to use the cash tax benefit and any other cash proceeds from the disposal of Dominick’s properties to buy back stock and to invest in growth opportunities," the company stated.

During a short transition period, the stores will continue to operate under the Dominick’s banner until Jewel-Osco can complete their conversion to Jewel-Osco stores. Dominick’s will be working with Jewel-Osco and the unions to ease the transition for store employees.

Safeway has decided to exit the Chicago market and focus its efforts in other operating areas where its business is stronger, the grocer stated.

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Deloitte: Consumer spending down in September

BY Dan Berthiaume

NEW YORK — The Deloitte Consumer Spending Index moved down again in September, showing the second month of small declines. The index tracks consumer cash flow as an indicator of future consumer spending.

"If the government shutdown is short-lived, retailers may not feel a noticeable impact, but if it persists, consumers may pause at the beginning of the holiday season," said Alison Paul, vice chairman, Deloitte LLP and Retail & Distribution sector leader. "With many retailers planning early promotions this year, shifts in consumer sentiment will likely test retailers’ scenario planning techniques.”

Paul advised retailers to run multiple scenarios now, so they can be nimble enough to make quick decisions about their promotions and pricing should demand suddenly tick up or down.  

“Those efforts include analyzing store and online traffic patterns, mining social media for changes in consumer behavior, and taking a closer audit of merchandise to determine what is sitting too long on the shelf and which items are effectively bringing customers through the door,” Paul said.

The Index, which comprises four components, tax burden, initial unemployment claims, real wages and real home prices, fell to 3.7 this month from 4.0 last month. Highlights include:

Tax Burden: The tax rate is up 6.8% from last year, and is now at 11.7%.

Initial Unemployment Claims: Claims moved down 9% from the same period last year to 330,000 in the most recent month.

Real Wages: Hourly real wage growth remains slow, hovering at $8.78, which is up 0.1% from the previous month and 0.3% from last year.

Real New Home Prices: Real new home prices were down 0.8% from the month prior, but moved up 4.3% from this time last year to reach approximately $109,000.

 

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