OPERATIONS

Aeropostale CEO out; replaced by company’s former CEO, Julian Geiger

BY Katherine Boccaccio

New York — Aeropostale announced that Julian R. Geiger has rejoined the company as CEO, effective immediately. He succeeds Thomas P. Johnson, a former Brooks Brother executive who was appointed to the top spot at Aeropostale after Geiger left his CEO post in 2010.

In 2011, Geiger was named president and CEO of Crumbs Bake Shop. He resigned from Crumbs at the end of December 2013, and rejoined the Aeropostale board in May. (Crumbs closed all its stores in July 2014.)

“Julian was the leader of Aeropostale’s strategic direction during a period of significant growth, and we are confident in his enthusiasm for the business, his understanding of today’s teen retail marketplace and his intuition regarding teen fashion,” said Karin Hirtler-Garvey, chairperson of Aeropostale’s board of directors.

Geiger said his decision to return to Aeropostale to be its chief executive officer was “easy to make.”

“"The opportunity for sales and profit growth; the ability to reinforce the company’s special culture; and the chance to work closely with, and influence, the management team and the field organization combine to create a compelling and dynamic challenge,” he said.

Aeropostale has been in a period of decline. For the second quarter of fiscal 2014, net sales decreased 13% to $396.2 million, from $454.0 million a year ago. Same-store sales decreased 13%. The company said it expects its second quarter operating loss to be in the range of approximately $61 million to $64 million.

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OPERATIONS

Group launches campaign to ban open carry of guns in Kroger stores

BY Marianne Wilson

Indianapolis — Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America launched a national campaign on Monday calling on Kroger Co. to prohibit the open carry of guns in its supermarkets. The gun control advocacy group was founded in response to the Sandy Hook school shooting and has partnered with billionaires Michael Bloomberg and Warren Buffett.

The Moms Demand Action campaign, which includes a petition to Kroger, follows similar actions aimed at Target, Chipotle, Sonic, Chii’s and Jack in the Box.

"We support the Second Amendment and responsible gun ownership, but ignoring incidences of gun violence in and around stores and allowing demonstrators to open carry loaded weapons through the same aisles that our children pick out their favorite cereals is unacceptable,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “Given how lax the majority of states’ open carry laws are, there is no way for store employees or Kroger’s loyal customers to know whether these gun extremists are good guys or bad guys. That’s why Moms are asking the country’s largest supermarket chain, a store that we visit every week, to follow the lead of Target, Chipotle, Starbucks and many others and make a clear statement that the open carry of firearms is not welcome in its stores."

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Wal-Mart makes holiday ‘checkout promise,’ pledges to staff every register

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Bentonville, Ark. — A day after announcing a disappointing second quarter, Wal-Mart Stores has made an aggressive holiday promise to its customers: the world’s largest retailer says it will staff every cash register from the day after Thanksgiving through the days just before Christmas during peak shopping times.

Wal-Mart’s "checkout promise" is aimed at addressing lengthy waits in checkout lines.

"We feel good about price and having the top gifts of the season, so the next priority is about getting customers in and out of the stores quickly," Duncan Mac Naughton, Wal-Mart’s chief merchandising officer, said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. "Taking the possibility of waiting in long lines off the table will attract more people into stores."

On Thursday, Wal-Mart reported flat same-store sales and negative traffic counts, as the discounter continues its struggle to win back customers who’ve moved their business over to smaller nearby rivals. Now, Wal-Mart is taking aim at the holiday season as a hugely important opportunity to attract customers via operational efficiencies.

"We must run stronger stores everywhere we operate, with better merchandising, in stock levels and quality service," CEO Doug McMillon told investors Thursday.

Analysts are skeptical that Wal-Mart’s “checkout promise” will really make a difference. Kantar Retail analyst Leon Nicholas said promising to staff checkouts is a "feather in their cap, a checkmark in the retail execution box, but it doesn’t move holiday traffic like having the right assortment and the right quantities so that people aren’t showing up to the store and finding the shelves empty.

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