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Bloomberg: Consumer spending probably up in July

BY Dan Berthiaume

New York — Improvements in housing and labor probably helped boost U.S. consumer spending last month. A Bloomberg survey of 59 economists in advance of the official Commerce Department July spending figures on Aug. 30 indicates purchases of goods and services increased 0.3% last month after a 0.5% increase in June.

The Bloomberg survey also predicts that consumers’ personal income grew 0.2% in July following a 0.3% increase the prior month. A separate Commerce Department report scheduled for release Aug. 27 is expected to show orders for big ticket items excluding transportation equipment grew 0.5% in July after a 0.1% decline in June. Looking at third quarter performance, Bloomberg estimates purchases will increase 2.2% and then rise 2.4% in the fourth quarter of 2013.

However, Bloomberg also expects the Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index and The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan final sentiment index both declined in July. Those reports are due later this week.

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Big Lots reappoints Solt to board

BY CSA STAFF

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Big Lots has reappointed Russell Solt to its board of directors after determining that the move is in the best interests of the company and its shareholders.

Solt will also continue to serve as chairman of the compensation committee, which is composed entirely of independent non-executive directors. Consistent with the terms of the company’s other directors, Solt’s term will run until the 2014 annual meeting of shareholders.

At this year’s annual meeting, which took place in May, Solt failed to garner a majority of the shareholder vote in support of reelection. As a result, Solt offered to resign from the board in accordance with the company’s corporate governance guidelines. After careful deliberation and following the recommendation of the nominating and corporate governance committee, the board opted to not accept Solt’s resignation. Solt did not participate in the either the board’s or the committee’s evaluation.

"The board of directors respects the views of our shareholders and, throughout the past year, the compensation committee and board have listened and taken significant steps to address concerns raised by our shareholders related to executive compensation practices, including reducing the overall CEO compensation package and more closely aligning compensation with shareholder returns," said Philip E. Mallott, chairman of the board. "As chairman of the compensation committee, Russell led these efforts and, together with other committee members and independent advisers, is currently evaluating further improvements to our executive compensation program. We believe that shareholders are best served by Russell’s continued involvement in this process. In addition, Russell’s financial expertise, knowledge of our business, and extensive experience in the retail industry make him a significant contributor to the overall work of our board of directors."

In making its determination, the board considered a number of factors that make Solt well suited to keeping his spot, including his experience as the CFO of other publicly traded retailers, his background in investor relations, his experience as a certified public accountant and his qualification as an audit committee financial expert. The board also believes that Solt’s departure would be disruptive to its efforts to develop a long-range business plan with the new CEO.

The company also engaged directly with a number of shareholders, as well as with proxy advisory firms ISS and Glass Lewis, to better understand the concerns that led to a majority of shareholders withholding votes from Solt in May. These concerns appear not to have been directed at Solt personally, but were principally related to previous executive compensation practices that were changed in May.

As previously disclosed, in May, the board separated the roles of CEO and chairman and several key changes were made to the company’s executive compensation program, including reducing the overall CEO compensation package, changing elements of the equity compensation awarded to the new CEO to be more focused on shareholder return metrics, eliminating certain excise tax reimbursement payments, and including a clawback provision in senior management employment agreements. In addition, the compensation committee is currently working with an independent compensation consultant to analyze the company’s long-term incentive compensation program and recommend further changes.

Big Lots operates 1,514 Big Lots stores in the 48 contiguous United States, 3 Big Lots store in Canada, and 76 Liquidation World and LW stores in Canada. Wholesale operations are conducted through Big Lots Wholesale, Consolidated International, and Wisconsin Toy and with online sales at www.biglotswholesale.com.

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Tommy Bahama taps Hybris to enhance omni-channel capabilities

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Tommy Bahama has selected the Hybris commerce platform to improve its omni-channel commerce capabilities. The apparel retailer has seen growth in it online commerce throughout the past few years. Tommy Bahama also offers in-store kiosks, where shoppers can access a commerce channel that enables an "endless aisle" of available products — allowing shoppers to access out-of-stock or online-exclusive items directly in-store.

To ensure the brand’s continued global expansion, and to establish a foundation for market and channel growth, Tommy Bahama decided to deploy a more robust commerce platform that it could integrate with its existing Adobe Experience Manager solution.

"Omni-channel commerce combined with a customized user experience is extremely important to us," said Lisa Atwood, senior VP of e-commerce at Tommy Bahama. "We selected Hybris because we needed a true omni-channel commerce platform that could be deployed in an aggressive timeframe and seamlessly integrate with our existing Adobe investment. Hybris is uniquely positioned to meet our criteria and is simply the best solution for enabling us to scale our commerce technology with our agile growth agenda in mind."

Hybris offers brands a single stack, all-in-one commerce solution, designed to enhance the value of Adobe and similar technologies throughout the enterprise.

Tommy Bahama also selected Acquity Group to assist with the implementation of the Hybris platform. Acquity Group has a longstanding relationship with Hybris.

Tommy Bahama owns and operates more than 100 Tommy Bahama stores worldwide.

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