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Best Buy to hire 500 new Geek Squad staffers; teams with Verizon to offer IT support to businesses

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Best Buy plans to hire 500 new Geek Squad staffers. The move comes some two weeks after the retailer said it would lay off 600 existing workers in the tech support arm of its business as it looked to focus the group less on basic installation services and more on remote tech consulting. It also comes as Verizon announced it was partnering with Geek Squad to offer services to meet the information technology requirements of small and mid-size businesses across the country.

Verizon said it designed the new solution, IT Help Desk, to help the companies, which often cannot support in-house staffing resources, keep the focus on their business by leaving technology challenges and opportunities to a dedicated team of specialists.

Best Buy said the new hires will be divided between the Geek Squad’s online tech support and in Best Buy stores nationally. Hiring will take place throughout the fiscal year. Best Buy spokeswoman Paula Baldwin said the new jobs will focus less on basic installation services for individual products, and more on complex installations and on delivering online support, according to the Associated Press.

Under the new Verizon offering, Geek Squad Agents are available round-the-clock to assist with implementing new technologies or trouble-shooting any end-user issues that may arise. Examples include assisting a medical practice with maintaining the connectivity of its tablets so it can quickly and securely transmit medical records for quality patient care; working with a local retailer in need of malware removal and up to date security patches; or helping a business that needs to synch files from various devices to keep the most up to date customer database.

“Technology innovation continues to unlock value and create revenue opportunities for small and medium businesses, which are the lifeblood of the U.S. economy,” said Janet Schijns, VP vertical solutions and channels for Verizon Enterprise Solutions. “Our new offering allows business owners to tap into today’s sophisticated wireless and advanced technologies with the peace of mind that trusted tech support is readily available anytime the need arises.”

The new program adds Geek Squad support to Verizon’s leading IT platforms such as mobility and security to give customers the tools they need to enable the most up-to-date technology to compete and grow their businesses.

“The relationship we’ve established with Verizon is a good example of how Geek Squad is taking things deeper with customers, and finding new ways to reach them," said George Sherman, senior VP Best Buy Services. “Verizon will use Geek Squad’s expanding remote support capability along with our other support channels to ensure that customers receive trusted IT guidance whenever and wherever they need it.”

All Help Desk levels of service include 24/7 phone and online support, where Geek Squad Agents can be engaged for services such as wireless connectivity, virus definition updates, malware removal and software updates. Advanced support adds services for mobilizing a workforce with tablets and smartphones, and virtual private network connectivity and support. Premier goes even further, with proactive support such as device monitoring and system maintenance in addition to application maintenance. Onsite dispatch is also available if the issue cannot be resolved via phone or online assistance.

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Food Lion expands pricing strategy to the Carolinas

BY CSA STAFF

SALISBURY, N.C. — Food Lion continues to roll out its new brand strategy, this time bringing the program to 269 stores in North Carolina and South Carolina, including its headquarter city of Salisbury, N.C.

Food Lion’s brand strategy offers customers lower prices on 6,000 items throughout the store and access to quality store brand products at lower prices, including the company’s my essentials value tier, as well as enhanced produce and an easy and convenient shopping experience, such as faster checkout.

With today’s announcement, Food Lion has more than 700 locations operating under the brand strategy, representing more than 60% of its store base. The brand strategy first launched in the Raleigh and Fayetteville, N.C., markets, as well as Chattanooga, Tenn., in May 2011, and the company announced an additional 268 rebranded stores on March 28 in Virginia, West Virginia and the outer banks of North Carolina.

"Today’s launch is a pivotal turning point for our company as we have implemented our new strategy in more than 700 stores," said Cathy Green Burns, president of Food Lion. "We invite customers to visit their local Food Lion, where they will experience firsthand the enhancements we have made in our stores. We are committed to being recognized as a price leader, making our stores easier to shop, offering the greatest value in store brands and providing the freshest produce. We are pleased to bring the strategy to our hometown markets, where we have served Food Lion customers for 55 years."

Food Lion will celebrate the launch of the new strategy at the 269 stores with special grand re-opening festivities, including providing the first 50 customers at each location a bag of free groceries today through Saturday, July 21. The company also plans to donate $30,000 in store brand food products to local charities, including $10,000 to Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina in Charlotte, N.C.; $10,000 to Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina in Winston-Salem, N.C.; $5,000 to MANNA FoodBank in Asheville, N.C.; and $5,000 to Harvest Hope Food Bank in Greenville, S.C.

Click here for the complete list of stores.

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‘Project Runway’ judge brings fashion expertise to JCPenney

BY CSA STAFF

PLANO, Texas — JCPenney has enlisted the services of Nina Garcia, a well-known fashion expert to help the company become more of a style destination. Garcia, who serves as fashion director of Marie Claire and as a judge on the fashion reality show, "Project Runway," will serve as the company’s resident style voice and fashion collection curator.

"Known for her discerning eye, Nina is a tremendous addition to our team. We look forward to leveraging her global fashion expertise as we provide our customers with attainable style advice and ideas," said Liz Sweney, chief merchant of JCPenney. "Nina’s creative involvement as a jcpenney style ambassador will help our customers look and live better every day."

In her new role, Garcia will work closely with JCPenney’s merchandise and design teams to offer trend direction and insight into the company’s exclusive apparel collections. Garcia’s style advice will be made available to consumers nationwide through a variety of in-store activations, digital initiatives and social media chats throughout the year.

"I am thrilled to partner with jcpenney as their resident Style Voice during such an exciting time for the company," said Garcia. "Fashion and personal style are always evolving, and I’m excited to collaborate on a variety of amazing projects with the incredible team at JCPenney."

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