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C-suite ranks supply chain top challenge; data analytics top strategic area

BY Marianne Wilson

Paris — The focus of c-suite and senior executive attention has shifted from economic uncertainty to data, technology and the supply chain, according to the Global Top of Mind Survey from KPMG International and the Consumer Goods Forum. Over half (54%) of respondents cited digital strategy for mobile/digital platforms as top of mind for their business during the next 12 months.

The supply chain was rated as the number one challenge for companies – and also the most likely to receive increased investment (42%) this year, followed by investments in data analytics (28%) and digital strategy (28%). And 56% of the respondents cited data analytics as being important to their firm’s strategy, making it the highest-ranked strategic area in the survey, followed by data security (47%).

“While data analytics may be at the top of the corporate agenda, the challenge that should really be keeping companies awake at night is data security,” said Willy Kruh, global chair, consumer markets KPMG International. “Companies are still a long way from where they need to be in terms of protecting their client and proprietary information from security breaches. Hackers will always be one step ahead, and companies need to ensure they are not overconfident in their ability to protect themselves.”

• 47% of the respondents cited data security as being very or critically important to their business, and 29% said it will be one of their biggest challenges over the next 12 months;

• Data analytics were cited as one of the three biggest business challenges over the next 12 months (21%);

• 45% of executives said speed and agility is their top priority for improving the supply chain;

• 44% of business leaders cited traceability and transparency around end-to-end value chains as a top goal for their company just ahead of reducing waste and emissions (42%) and sustainable sourcing (41%);

• Food retailers and manufacturers listed health-and-wellness (47%) and securing food safety (46%) as their top goals for the next 12 months;

• Reputation and brand (41%), consumer demand (34%) and competition (28%) were cited as three main drivers behind sustainability; and

• 56% said health-and-wellness and/or CSR and sustainability priorities are very important to their business.

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American Apparel update: The drama continues

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — American Apparel shareholders Bigger Capital Fund, Bachelier LLC and the Bigger Family, have sent a letter to the company’s board seeking the resignation of co-chairmen David Danziger and Allan Mayer as board members.

The letter criticized the board’s "stealthily and abruptly ousting American Apparel’s long-standing CEO and largest shareholder knowing that their actions will cause a near-imminent default under important contractual obligations of the company and cause it to default on nearly $10 million in loans."

The letter accused the two board members of making “seemingly arbitrary decisions taking reckless risks with our capital and jeopardizing our business with little regard for shareholder interests or the future of our company.”

Danziger and Mayer are expected to continue with their terms in the reconstituted American Apparel board. The new board is part of an agreement with Standard General whereby the investment firm would give the retailer up to $25 million in funding. Under the terms of the deal, founder and former CEO Dov Charney would have the temporary title of strategic consultant.

According to Reuters, Standard General, which owns an approximate 44% stake in the company, is leaving the decision of whether to allow Charney to return to the company up to the American Apparel board, following a third-party investigation by FTI Consulting.

Charney was dismissed as CEO on June 18 due to allegations of misconduct, which he has denied. Charney voluntarily stepped down from the company’s board as part of an agreement with Standard General where the firm will provide up to $25 million that will enable American Apparel to pay off a nearly $10 million loan from its longtime lender Lion Capital. Charney will remain as a strategic consultant with the company until an investigation into his alleged misconduct is concluded.

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Sherwin-Williams net income jumps 13% in Q2; 80-90 new stores planned

BY Dan Berthiaume

Cleveland – Higher pretax income and gross profit helped push net income at The Sherwin-Williams Company up 13% in the second quarter of fiscal 2014 to $291 million, from $257 million in the year-ago period.

Net sales rose 12% to $3.04 billion from $2.7 billion, primarily due to higher paint sales volume in the paint stores group and acquisitions.

Sherwin-Williams plans to open 80 to 90 new stores in its paint stores group during fiscal 2014. Consolidated earnings per share and net sales are expected to rise both for the third quarter and full fiscal year 2014.

“We are pleased with the continued strong positive sales and earnings per share momentum,” said Christopher M. O’Connor, chairman and CEO. “Our Paint Stores Group continues to lead with sales volume and operating results. The Paint Stores Group architectural volume growth was strong across all end market segments.”

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