Personnel Updates:
Apple announced that John Browett will join the company as Senior VP of Retail.
Best Buy announced that Shari Ballard and Mike Vitelli, who had both been
President of Best Buy’s domestic business, are now taking on separate jobs.  Ballard was named President of the International Business, which includes stakes in China, Canada, Mexico and Europe. Vitelli will continue to lead the U.S. business.
Buy.com has announced that Bernard Luthi, a 15-year veteran of e-commerce, technology and consumer electronics, has joined the company as Chief Marketing Officer. Previously, Luthi was VP Marketing Newegg.com.
Craft & Hobby Association (CHA) board of directors has announced Andrej Suskavcevic as new President and CEO of CHA.
Hhgregg announced that Executive Chairman Jerry Throgmartin, has passed away
HMSHost Corp. has named Tom Fricke its new President and CEO.  Fricke succeeds Elie W. Maalouf, who left HMSHost in October.
Meijer announced the appointment of J.K. Symancyk to the newly created role of COO, along with the addition of Peter Whitsett to the Meijer team as Exec VP Merchandising and Marketing.
PetSmart CEO Robert Moran has taken on the additional role of Chairman of the Board, the company. Moran will retain his CEO duties in addition to his new title.  Phil Francis, previously Executive Chairman, will remain a member of the board.
The company also announced that its board of directors has appointed David Lenhardt as the company’s new President and COO.  The PetSmart board of directors also appointed Lawrence  Molloy to the additional position of Exec VP.  Molloy will retain his title and duties as CFO, and has assumed additional responsibility, overseeing the company’s real estate functions.
The Retail Industry Leaders Association has appointed a new board Chairman.
RILA announced that Target Chairman, President and CEO Gregg Steinhafel was appointed RILA Chairman of the Board. Steinhafel, who previously served as Vice Chairman, succeeds Bill Rhodes, who currently serves as Chairman, President and CEO of AutoZone.
Staples is promoting Christine Komola to CFO.
Staples has appointed Kirk Saville as VP Global Communications, charged with overseeing Staples’ internal and corporate communications, marketing, public relations, community relations and corporate events.
Wal-Mart Stores has named a replacement for Eduardo Castro-Wright, who announced his pending retirement in September. The company announced that Neil Ashe is the new President and CEO of the company’s global e-commerce business.
Walmart announced yesterday that it has named Greg Foran, Senior VP for Wal-Mart International, to be President and CEO of Wal-Mart China.
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. announced several executive changes featuring promotions of internal talent.  Sam’s Club President and CEO Brian Cornell informed the company that he and his wife would like to relocate for family reasons.  With his departure, Rosalind G. Brewer was promoted to President and CEO of Sam’s Club.  Rollin Ford was promoted to Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) for the company.  ‪ Gisel Ruiz was promoted to Exec VP and COO  for Walmart U.S.  Karenann Terrell was promoted to Chief Information Officer for the company. In this position she will be responsible for the company’s global technology systems including stores and clubs, supply chain, merchandising and enterprise platforms.
Financial Focus:
Amazon’s sales for the full year 2011 increased 41% to $48 billion compared with $34 billion in 2010. 
Mergers and Acquisitions:
The Pep Boys — Manny, Moe & Jack, has agreed to be taken private by private equity firm The Gores Group for about $791 million. The total transaction, including debt, is valued at about $1 billion.  Pep Boys’ board unanimously approved the acquisition, which still needs approval from the company’s shareholders. The transaction is expected to close in the fiscal second quarter.
Peterbrooke Chocolatier announced that Hickory Foods Inc, has completed its purchase of Peterbrooke Chocolatier Inc.  The company will now be called Peterbrooke Chocolate Co., under the Hickory Foods umbrella.
Shopko Stores and Pamida, have announced they will merge to create one of the largest U.S. retailers focused on serving smaller and rural communities.
The combined entity will have nearly 350 locations in 22 states and plans for new store growth in the second half of 2012 and beyond.  January 4th, 2012: It was announced that Shopko and Pamida would merge and that the Pamida stores would be rebranded to Shopko Hometown stores.
Financial details of the merger, which is expected to close in late February, were not disclosed.
Industry Insight:
BJ’s Wholesale Club has announced the opening of three new locations, one in Virginia and two in New York State.  
Conn’s announced the closing of five stores in Texas and Oklahoma this month, leaving the multiregional CE, appliance and furniture chain with 64 locations.

Conn‘s is proceeding with plans to open five to seven stores in new and existent markets during its next fiscal year.
Disney Store announced its 2012 store opening plans, which includes eight new and five remodeled locations in North America (the US and Canada), and the company’s first ever store in China, opening in the fall in Shanghai.  The North American openings include the debut of Disney’s new interactive store format in the states of Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Utah and Virginia.
Dollar General announced that it plans to open 625 new stores in 2012. These new stores and jobs will be spread among Dollar General’s 38-state operating area, plus Californiaand Massachusetts.
Dollar General has announced that it expects to open approximately 50 stores in Central and Southern California.
Family Dollar has announced plans to open seven new stores in and around the Fresno, California market.  The first two stores are expected to open in May 2012.
Target announced that one of its Orlando, FLSuperTargets has been closed.  The location was opened in 2001.  The retailer indicated this specific site was closing because of its long-term financial performance. 
Target has closed 3 of its older stores in CO, NC and OR.  All locations are of the retailer’s discount format.  All stores are closing due to their financial performance.
Target has disclosed the location of its first 24 stores in Canada. As previously announced, Target purchased the leasehold interests of 189 sites currently operated by Zellers Inc., and plans to open 125 to 135 stores in Canada, the majority of which will open in 2013.  Target plans to open the stores in the following locations in March/early April 2013.