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All U.S. Virgin Megastores to Close

BY CSA STAFF

New York City Struggling under the weight of declining music sales and a sinking economy, the remaining six Virgin Megastores in the United States will shut their doors this summer, the Associated Press reported.

The chain, which received its edgy, hipster branding from founder Richard Branson, fought the transition to digital downloading by broadening its offerings to include apparel, books and consumer electronics.

A joint venture of Related Cos. and Vornado Realty Trust bought the U.S. chain, which had 23 stores at its peak, in 2007. While the stores remain profitable, the owners reportedly determined they could command higher rents from new tenants.

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Goodyear names chiefs marketer for North American Tire consumer business

BY CSA STAFF

AKRON, Ohio The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. announced that Scott Rogers has been named chief marketing officer for the company’s North American Tire consumer business. In this newly created role, Rogers will oversee all aspects of advertising and marketing for the company’s consumer tire business, including the Goodyear, Dunlop and Kelly brands.

Rogers had been SVP marketing and sales for Norwegian Cruise Line in Miami since 2005. Prior to that, Rogers served in a number of positions for The Procter & Gamble Company in Cincinnati, Ohio, between 1992 and 2005. His positions included marketing director of multiple brands within the P&G portfolio in North America. He also served as marketing director of the P&G customer team assigned to Target Corp.

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Office sector promotions look to drive customer traffic

BY CSA STAFF

Staples has resorted to free personal computer tune-ups and free copies of tax returns as a means to generate customer traffic and drive trial usage of high-margin service offerings. Now through April 4, the company said it would offer free PC tune-ups at its roughly 1,500 U.S. stores. The normal fee for that service is $29.

“With today’s economy, many customers are looking to extend the life of their current PCs to postpone the purchase of new machines,” said Bob MacDonald, VP technology services at Staples. “Unlike some competing offers, the Staples tune-up does more than just diagnose problems. We’re making it easy for customers to get new PC performance from an old computer.”

When the free PC offer expires, a tax promotion that involves free, doubled-sided copies of tax returns will begin on April 5 and extend through April 15. In addition, through July 4, customers who purchase a Staples Copy & Print Center flash drive can receive up to 100 free scans of documents to create PDF electronic versions.

“By offering free scans and copies during the tax season, we can help customers keep records of their tax returns both electronically and in hard-copy format, while printing responsibly. This is good for the wallet and the environment, and [is] another way Staples is making it easy for customers to save on a wide variety of products and services,” said John Burke, Staples SVP business services.

Not to be outdone, Office Depot also is offering free copies of tax returns from March 22 through April 14.

 

Generating customer traffic has become priority No. 1 for virtually every retailer these days, given cutbacks in spending and heightened competition for available dollars. It is especially critical in the office superstores space, where sharp cutbacks in consumer spending became evident in recent weeks, as rivals Office Depot and OfficeMax reported weak sales.

Office Depot’s 1,267-unit North American retail division experienced a $119 million operating loss on sales that declined 17% to $1.4 billion, and same-store sales that fell 18%. A similar deterioration in performance was disclosed at OfficeMax. It reported an $83 million operating loss on sales at its 1,022-unit retail division that declined nearly 10% to $929 million, and same-store sales that fell 13.6%.

Staples is due to report what are expected to be weak fourth-quarter results on March 11.

The recently announced promotions won’t help the fourth-quarter results, but they should help get customers in the door.

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