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Ace adds instant savings to rewards

BY CSA STAFF

Oak Brook, Ill.-based Ace Hardware launched Instant Savings, a program for Ace Rewards members that allows them to receive instant discounts at the register.

“We have made it even easier for our customers to shop with Ace by delivering more value and convenience for them,” said John Surane, senior VP, merchandising, marketing, advertising and paint. “We constantly look for ways to add value for our customers, and Instant Savings is a major new exclusive benefit to our Ace Rewards loyalty program that does just that.”

With the launch, Ace Rewards customers no longer have to redeem rebates through the mail and wait the four to six weeks it typically takes for those to be processed.

To receive Instant Savings offers, customers must simply present their Ace Rewards card at checkout or ask the cashier to lookup their Ace Rewards number by providing their phone number or last name and five-digit zip code.

The program is free for consumers. It will continue to provide exclusive member benefits such as 10 points for every $1 spent, a $5 Reward for every 2,500 points earned, money-saving coupons and sale reminders, along with helpful tips and content.

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NRF, Amex name winners of retail challenge

BY CSA STAFF

WASHINGTON — The NRF Foundation and American Express announced the winners of their fifth annual Aspire2Retail Intercollegiate Challenge. Each student will receive an educational scholarship worth $2,500.

The contest is designed to increase understanding of diverse career paths in retail by engaging university students in a competitive, collaborative roleplay that involves implementing a multi-tiered business strategy.

This year, the challenge required students to describe all aspects of showrooming and outline the threats and opportunities that come with it. Showrooming is when shoppers compare retailers’ store prices to other companies’ online prices and purchase the item online from a different company. The students had to collaborate on a comprehensive marketing strategy, aimed at addressing showrooming and were instructed to propose customer service practices that enhance loyalty and maximize the use of the latest technological advancements. A financial, merchandising and retail operations plan also had to be produced to complete and pass the challenge.

“Retailers have to move fast to keep pace with customers’ demands, and every business unit — from marketing to merchandising to IT — plays a huge role in addressing showrooming behavior,” said NRF Foundation executive director Ellen Davis. “This year’s challenge was a real example of something that retail companies are dealing with every day. We are thrilled to honor the winning team for their work and dedication to this project, and look forward to seeing each student grow in their academics and professional careers in retail.”

Jerry O’Brien, director of Kohl’s Department Stores Center for Retailing Excellence at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, led this year’s winning team. The students who made up the winning team include Hillary Haskins, Florida State University; Reannah Haselden, Georgia Southern University; Narisa Montero, University of Arizona; Sabrina Occiur, University of Florida; Panama Marquand, University of Michigan and Nicole VanDyke, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The educational scholarships the winners will receive were made possible by contributions from Sears Holdings Corporation, Macy’s and Toys“R”Us. The winning students will also receive complimentary registration to Retail’s BIG Show in New York City, where they will present their award-winning business plan to attendees at 3:15 p.m., Monday, January 14, during the “Showrooming: An Opportunity or a Threat?” session.

The program, established in 2006, pairs students from six retail programs across the country together to solve a business-case scenario. Each student selects a different business discipline, and is mentored by a retail executive in that field. Students then present their solution to a panel of judges, who score the presentations on creativity, relevance and understanding of the challenge topic.

Participating retailer and industry experts that were involved in mentoring and judging the student presentations include Cheryl Berinato, Macy’s, Inc.; Ellen Davis, NRF Foundation; Derek Lounsbury, Toys“R”Us, Inc.; Thomas McCurtain, Sears Holdings Corporation; Herman Nell, Petco; Kristen Sanders, The Container Store; Lori Schafer, SAS; Omar Segura, Sears Holdings Corporation; Kacey Sharrett, Toys“R”Us, Inc.; Lydia Shultz, American Express Company; Vito Spano, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Mark Williams, Best Buy.

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Kevin Peters to leave Office Depot

BY CSA STAFF

Office Depot on Friday announced that Kevin Peters had resigned from his role as president of the retailer’s North American division effective immediately.

Office Depot said Peters was leaving the company after five years to become CEO of an unidentified industrial distribution company.

"In his five years with Office Depot, Kevin was instrumental in building a strong team while driving the strategic vision for our North American sales channels and our supply chain organization," said Neil Austrian. Office Depot’s chairman and CEO. "We thank him for his many contributions to our company and wish him well in the future."

Austrian will now oversee the company’s North American business.

The position Peters is vacating was newly created for him 18 months ago as part of a larger reorganization of senior management. Office Depot sought to combine oversight of its North American Retail and North American Business Solutions divisions and Peters was tapped to make it happen.

At the time, Austrian said, “for the first time, we are consolidating all of our North American operations under one leader, allowing us to break down silos, increase our productivity and improve the execution of our key initiatives. We are confident that this approach will help us to better serve our business customers and consumers.”

Peters joined Office Depot in October 2007 as EVP of supply chain and in March 2009 was given additional responsibilities for information technology. He was named president of North American Retail in April 2010.

Prior to joining Office Depot, Peters spent five years in management roles at W.W. Grainger and 11 years at The Home Depot.

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