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Retailing is Evolving. So Is Chain Store Age.

Anew year brings new initiatives

Anew year. Fresh beginnings. New and old challenges.

In the 30 years I have chronicled the retail industry, perhaps none has been as laced with drama as the year just concluded. As befitting its size, Wal-Mart was constantly in the news, domestically and globally. Much of the news was not good.

The Home Depot took it on the chin as well, particularly its leader, Robert Nardelli. Kroger and Safeway rebounded. Gap did not. Nor did Sears and Kmart, at least from an operating perspective.

No need to list all the tense stories of 2006. But one recurring theme no doubt will carry over into 2007—hardly a week goes by that another company does not get absorbed by or receive a sizable cash infusion from an equity firm. In today’s multibillion-dollar fund environment, no chain, no matter its size, is immune.

At Chain Store Age, we’re in sync with the trend. Next month we’ll co-host Main & Wall: Where Main Street Meets Wall Street. The Feb. 6-8 conference at the Arizona Biltmore will bring together retailers and experts in the fields of financing, growth strategies, real estate, human-resources management and consumer trends. For details visit www.mainandwallconference.com.

Chain Store Age is likewise committed to conferences in the critical areas of supply chain, technology and management development. A Supply Chain Summit will be held June 25-27 at the Claremont Resort & Spa in Berkeley, Calif. (www.csasupplychainsummit.com). Speakers include leaders from Best Buy, Walgreen, VF Corp. and Welch Foods.

TOPSS, the Technology & Operations Store Summit (formerly the Global POS & Store Operations Summit), will be Oct. 3-5 at the Red Rock Resort in Las Vegas (www.csatopss.com). TOPSS is unique—it is the only conference that focuses on the point where technology and operations merge at store level. Speakers include executives from Giorgio Armani, T-Mobile, SuperValu, RadioShack and Best Buy.

The Fifth Annual Executive SPECS will be held Nov. 13-15 at the Wigwam Golf Resort & Spa outside Phoenix. The program will concentrate on ways executives can be better managers (www.executivespecs.com).

Each of these boutique events brings retailers and suppliers together for education and peer networking. The model for them all is the 43-year-old SPECS, the best gathering of executives responsible for planning, designing, building and maintaining stores. SPECS will be March 4-7 at the Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort (www.specsshow.com).

As the industry has embraced the Internet, so have we (www.chainstoreage.com). Aside from twice-daily news feeds, we deliver a weekly e-newsletter. This month we launch TechTalk Tuesday, transmitted on the second and fourth Tuesdays of every month. Our Web offerings have expanded to include free Webinars, the RetailView blog and Picture This photos of new and interesting stores. Later this year we’ll unveil a redesigned Web site.

Our most ambitious Web project will be the launch of Cyber-SPECS, a virtual trade show linking buyers and sellers 24/7/365 beginning in mid-year.

Retailing is evolving. So is Chain Store Age.