OPERATIONS

Aaron’s CEO to retire at end of August; company on hunt for new chief

BY Dan Berthiaume

Atlanta – Another retailer is looking for a chief executive: Aaron’s Inc. announced that Ronald W. Allen, 72, will retire as CEO and as a member of the board of directors of Aaron’s, effective Aug. 31. Allen has served on the board since 1997 and as CEO since February 2012.

The board has retained Spencer Stuart, an executive recruiting firm, to assist in the process of identifying Allen’s successor. The search process will include a full review of both internal and external candidates.

Aaron’s has struggled in recent quarters, with the rent-to-own-retailer describing a difficult economic environment for its low- to middle-income shoppers. For the second quarter, Aaron’s revenues rose 22.1% from a year earlier, mainly because of its acquisition of Progressive, a company that offers rent-to-own transactions outside of traditional rent-to-own stores. Earnings, however, fell 65%, however, and revenue from the company’s core sales and lease ownership division was down 2%.

"It has been a privilege to lead the finest associates in the industry, whose commitment, integrity and ingenuity never cease to impress me," said Allen. "With the plans we have in place to deliver improved results in our core business and the transformational acquisition of the fast-growing virtual RTO Progressive business, I believe that we have a strong platform for long-term growth, and I am confident in the company’s future.”

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Aaron’s seeks CEO

BY CSA STAFF

Just under two weeks after Aaron’s posted disappointing second-quarter results, the company is seeking a new CEO. Ronald W. Allen, 72, plans to retire as the company’s CEO and will be stepping down from the board of directors, effective August 31, 2014.

The board has retained Spencer Stuart, a leading executive recruiting firm, to assist in the process of identifying Allen’s successor. The search process will include a full review of both internal and external candidates, the company said.

"It has been a privilege to lead the finest associates in the industry, whose commitment, integrity and ingenuity never cease to impress me," said Allen. "With the plans we have in place to deliver improved results in our core business and the transformational acquisition of the fast-growing virtual RTO Progressive business, I believe that we have a strong platform for long-term growth, and I am confident in the company’s future. Having served on the Aaron’s Board since 1997 and as CEO since February 2012, I am now looking forward to the next chapter of my life with more time for family and the opportunity to pursue other avenues for my personal and professional growth."

"We want to thank Ron for his commitment and many contributions to Aaron’s, including his role in successfully completing the acquisition of Progressive Finance,” Ray Robinson, Aaron’s chairman of the board, said. “Under his leadership, we have strengthened our management team and operating practices and procedures, and believe the corporate infrastructure is now in place to enable Aaron’s to build on its strong foundation for growth. We believe we are well positioned for the future and look forward to identifying a new leader who will leverage the Company’s broad retail footprint, leadership in virtual RTO and strong franchisee relationships to drive results. We wish Ron the best in his future endeavors."

Aaron’s currently offers its services through more than 2,100 company-operated and franchised stores in 48 states and Canada.

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OPERATIONS

Report: Russian criminals obtain over one billion passwords

BY Dan Berthiaume

Milwaukee – An organized crime syndicate based in Russia has reportedly obtained 1.2 billion passwords and 500 million email addresses from consumers across the globe. According to a report from security research firm Hold Security, the user information has been stolen from 420,000 Internet sites.

Sites range in all sizes and include sites for small businesses and individuals as well as major global companies. Hold Security would not identify any specific companies or industries that were targeted.

“Hackers did not just target U.S. companies, they targeted any website they could get, ranging from Fortune 500 companies to very small websites,” Alex Holden, the founder and chief information security officer of Hold Security, said in a New York Times report. “And most of these sites are still vulnerable.”

The hacker ring, based in south central Russia and consisting of roughly a dozen men in their 20s, used botnets to infect computers with a virus that allowed them to extract login information. In total, the thieves obtained about 4.5 billion individual records, although overlap of information meant they obtained 1.2 billion passwords and 542 million email addresses.

So far, the hackers mainly seem to be using the stolen information to send targeted spam on social media sites. However, the data could also be sold on the black market and/or used for identity theft.

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