OPERATIONS

Borders executive VP and chief merchant resigns

BY Marianne Wilson

Ann Arbor, Mich. — Borders Group executive VP and chief merchandising officer Michele Cloutier has resigned, Borders said in a late afternoon Friday filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

It is the latest in a string of high-level departures from the bookseller as it struggles to emerge from bankruptcy protection.

On Thursday, the company received a deadline extension until mid-October to file a plan to restructure. An attorney for Borders said parts of the company could be sold in as quickly as two weeks.

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Jobs report delivers blow to retail stocks

BY CSA STAFF

New York City — A jobs report on Friday that showed a slowing hiring market sent retail shares tumbling. According to the Labor Department, U.S. employers added just 54,000 new workers in May, the fewest in eight months. With unemployment at 9.1%, those retailers most closely tied to the job market, including Staples and Office Depot, saw the most negative impact.

The jobs added in May were far lower than the previous three months’ average of 220,000 new jobs per month. Private companies hired only 83,000 new workers in May — the fewest in nearly a year.

Many analysts suggest the economy will improve later this year, particularly if gas prices continue to decline. But Friday’s report underscores that the recovery will likely remain weak and unemployment – currently at 9.1% — will be a problem for the foreseeable future.

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Ace Hardware ranks highest in customer satisfaction in J.D. Power survey

BY CSA STAFF

Oak Brook, Ill. — The J.D. Power and Associates 2011 U.S. Home Improvement Retailer Store Satisfaction Study again ranked Ace Hardware “Highest in Customer Satisfaction with Home Improvement Retail Stores.” Ace has held this position since the organization began researching the home improvement category five years ago.

“Ace is a go-to resource in communities large and small throughout America, and our retailer-owned stores know how to deliver on the brand’s helpfulness promise,” said Ray Griffith, president and CEO of Ace Hardware. “We strive to make a positive impact on our customers and be the ‘helpful place’ they know and trust.”

The J.D. Power and Associates study is based on responses from more than 6,900 consumers who purchased home improvement products or services in the previous 12 months. Ace Hardware ranked highest among major retailers with an overall satisfaction index score of 786 on a 1,000-point scale. According to consumers, Ace performs particularly well in the staff and service and store facility categories.

The score is based on performance in five areas: merchandise, price, sales and promotions, staff and service, and store facility.

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