Personnel Updates:

Dollar General announced last June, that Rick Dreiling would step down as CEO effective May 30, 2015, or possibly sooner depending on the conclusion of a search for his successor.  The following month, Dollar Tree and Family Dollar announced plans to merge, prompting Dollar General to make a counter offer that required Dreiling’s attention for the past six months. The deal came to a head recently when Family Dollar shareholders voted in favor of Dollar Tree’s offer.

In expressing displeasure with that outcome, Dreiling also disclosed that he will continue to serve as Chairman and CEO until Jan. 29, 2016. As was the case with the announcement last June, the company left open the possibility that Dreiling could step down sooner depending on the timing of a search for his successor.

Five Below, Inc. announced that Michael Romanko has been named Exec VP of Merchandising, reporting directly to Joel Anderson, President. In his new role, Mr. Romanko will be responsible for overseeing all aspects of merchandising strategy and operations including product development.

Fred’s Super Dollar announced that it has named Michael Bloom as the company’s President and COO.  Most recently, he served as the President and COO of Family Dollar Stores.  Near the end of his tenure at Family Dollar, Mr. Bloom appeared on TV as an undercover boss.

GameStop announced that Senior VP, Human Resources, Mike Buskey, has been elevated to the role of President of U.S. Stores to oversee GameStop’s domestic locations.  Buskey fills a position previously occupied by Tony Bartel who in mid-January was named Chief Operating Officer with continued oversight of the stores organization, merchandising and supply chain in addition to pre-owned and technology brands businesses and real estate.

Kirkland’s announced the appointment Mike Madden as the company’s President, CEO.  Mr. Madden succeeds Robert Alderson at the corporate helm. The seeds of the transition were planted last August when Madden was elevated to the role of President and COO after serving as Senior VP and CFO since 2008. While Alderson is stepping down as CEO, he will remain on the company’s board which is being expanded to accommodate the addition of Madden.

Kirkland’s announced the promotion of Adam Holland, most recently VP Finance and Chief Accounting Officer, to the position of VP, Chief Financial Officer.

Kmart announced that it has hired Phil Keough as Senior VP and President of its Pharmacy division.

The National Retail Federation has announced that its new Chairman is Kip Tindell, who is also Chairman and CEO of The Container Store.

The Retail Industry Leaders Association named the former Texas Chief Information Security Officer to lead the trade group’s new intelligence sharing organization.  RILA said Brian Engle would serve as Executive Director of the Retail Cyber Intelligence Sharing Center (R-CISC) and be responsible for managing the organization’s daily affairs.

Sam’s Club announced that the newly created position of Chief Member Officer has been filled by Tracey Brown, who has been given a wide range of member marketing, acquisition, engagement, retention and analytics responsibilities.  Ms. Brown joined Sam’s last October as VP Membership Development   In her new role, Brown will focus on Sam’s overall membership strategy, member acquisitions, member engagement, retention, marketing and data strategy and analytics.

Shopko announced that its President Jill Soltau has left the company to become the new CEO with Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores.

Target’s goal to become a leading omnichannel retailer, has led to the hiring of Tesco veteran Mike McNamara.   McNamara joins the company as Exec VP and Chief Information Officer.

Walmart continues the restructuring of its senior executive ranks with the latest round of appointments, as well as, some key resignations.  The new areas the executives will lead are described as “Next Generation Work Streams” and the moves are characterized as part of the company’s enterprise strategy.

Jane Ewing, Senior VP Business Development, Walmart U.S., will lead the Next Generation Stock-up work stream. Jeff McAllister, Senior VP Walmart Innovations, will lead the Next Generation Supply Chain work stream and Latriece Watkins, Senior VP Snacks and Beverages, Walmart U.S., will lead the Ways of Working work stream.

Walmart named Laura Phillips, Senior VP, Entertainment, Walmart U.S., to the new role of Senior VP, Omni-Channel. In her new role, Phillips will support the company’s Enterprise Strategy Compelling Merchandise work stream where she is expected to help the company win key categories by leveraging physical and digital capabilities in a more unified way. She will continue reporting to Andy Barron, Exec VP, Softlines for Walmart U.S.

Phillips’ move created an opportunity for Walmart to make other changes in the Hardlines. Greg Hall, Senior VP, Hardlines for Walmart U.S. was named Senior VP, Entertainment, Walmart U.S., reporting to Andy Barron. Filling Hall’s role is Terry Price

Walmart announced that with the promotion of several new executives to work stream roles, came the retirement of several key executives. John Aden retired from his position of Exec VP, Sales Innovation, Walmart U.S.   Another key departure involved Bryan Miller, Senior VP, Human Resources, Walmart U.S.

Walmart Senior VP of Entertainment Laura Phillips, was named Senior VP of Omnichannel Assortments.  This is akin to as Chief Omnichannel Officer.  In her new role, Phillips will support what Walmart is describing as its enterprise strategy “Compelling Merchandise” work stream where she is expected to help win key categories by leveraging physical and digital capabilities in a more unified way. She will continue reporting to Andy Barron, Executive Vice President, Softlines for Walmart U.S.


Financial Focus:

Kirkland’s, Inc. reported sales for the 52-week periods ended January 31, 2015.  Net sales for the 52 weeks ended January 31, 2015, increased 10.2% to $507.6 million compared with $460.6 million for the 52 weeks ended February 1, 2014. Comparable store sales for fiscal 2014, including e-commerce sales, increased 6.1% compared with a 0.5% increase in fiscal 2013. The Company opened 34 stores and closed 14 during fiscal 2014 and ended the fiscal year with 344 stores.. Kirkland’s will issue its earnings release for the fourth quarter before the market opens on Thursday, March 12, 2015,


Mergers and Acquisitions:

Family Dollar shareholders agreed to be acquired by Dollar Tree in a deal that creates a combined company with more than 14,000 locations, estimated annual sales of $19 billion and compelling growth opportunities.  This occurs after months of delay and a failed bid by Dollar General.   Approval of the deal creates a new competitive dynamic in the world of extreme value retailing with the combination of Dollar Tree and Family Dollar making for a more formidable competitor to Dollar General and its nearly 12,000 stores.

Staples has entered an agreement to acquire Office Depot in a cash and stock deal valued at $6.3 billon that is sure to face a high degree of regulatory scrutiny. The company can also expect federal regulators to look closely at the competitive implications of a deal that would essentially bring to an end the era of the office superstore which began when Tom Stemberg founded Staples nearly 30 years ago. Stemberg tried to buy Office Depot in 1997 but that deal was broken up after a lengthy battle with the Federal Trade Commission. Since then, the industry has undergone total consolidation, with the biggest and most recent deal involving Office Depot’s acquisition of OfficeMax in late 2013. If Staples acquisition of Office Depot secures antitrust clearance it will be acquiring a company that hasn’t yet fully realized the synergy benefits of the acquisition of OfficeMax.


Industry Insight:

Brookstone Inc. was acquired by Chinese retailer Sanpower Group and Chinese investment firm Sailing Capital.  They plan to expand Brookstone’s brand abroad, including to mainland China. The new owners bought the company at a bankruptcy auction in June 2014 for $174 million, trumping an offer from an affiliate of Spencer Spirit Holdings Inc., the parent company of the Spencer’s and Spirit Halloween retail chains.

Target will open 15 stores in the United States in 2015.  The company plans to open more small store formats than suburban big box stores this year. Target will bring its smallest store, TargetExpress, at 20,000 square feet, to two more metropolitan areas this year, with one store slated for Chicago and two for the Washington, D.C., area.  The company has already said it would bring its mid-size store format, CityTarget, to the East Coast this year with a store set to open in Boston. It has another location slated for Brooklyn, N.Y., next year.

Target is in the process of closing down all retail operations in Canada.

Walmart opened 11 new supercenters in Canada, completing its expansion for the company’s current fiscal year ending Jan. 31.  These openings brought Walmart’s total store count in Canada to 394 stores.  These openings coincide with Target’s sudden exit from Canada.