OPERATIONS

Big Lots’ chief merchant to retire

BY Dan Berthiaume

Columbus, Ohio – John C. Martin, executive VP and chief merchandising officer of Big Lots Inc., intends to retire his position with the company. Martin will continue in his current capacity until his successor is appointed, and he has committed to provide guidance through May 2014.

Big Lots has retained SpencerStuart to conduct a search of external candidates to succeed Martin.

"In the near term, I am focused on helping the team execute our fall and holiday strategies to make the most of 2013 while also offering my support to my replacement once he or she is identified,” said Martin.

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Deaf customers sue Starbucks

BY Dan Berthiaume

Seattle – Twelve deaf consumers are suing Starbucks over what they claim was harassment at the hands of employees of a lower Manhattan Starbucks store on March 7, 2013.

The suit alleges that one employee openly mocked the customers, a group of hearing-impaired individuals known as Deaf Chat Coffee who were holding a monthly meeting at the location, while other employees called the police to have them removed. Some, but not all, members of the group bought food and beverages and police did not remove them but instead reprimanded store employees.

The suit asks for unspecified damages and a court order for Starbucks employees to stop harassing deaf customers. A Starbucks spokesperson told Associated Press the company does not allow any type of discrimination against customers and is internally investigating the allegations.

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Fancy Feast launches Pinterest contest

BY Dan Berthiaume

St. Louis – Fancy Feast Gourmet Cat Food is launching a Pinterest sweepstakes called “Cheese Affair Pin to Win.” The contest, promoting the company’s new line of cheddar cheese-flavored products, offers cheese-themed prizes including a trip to New York to attend an event hosted by cheese expert and author Liz Thorpe. Consumers are eligible to win prizes by pinning certain cheese-themed images from Fancy Feast on their Pinterest boards during certain time periods through Aug. 11.

“Cheese is more than an ingredient. It has the power to unite people and their cats,” said Thorpe. “I am thrilled to be able to share my passion and knowledge of cheese to help bring people and cats together to celebrate mealtime in fun new ways.”

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