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Carlyle Group eyes retail and CPG world with Walmart exec on team

BY CSA STAFF

Former Walmart CEO and current board member Mike Duke is the newest operating executive at the Carlyle Group, which suggests the pace of deal-making activity in the retail and consumer packaged goods world could be about to heat up.

Duke, 65, spent nearly two decades at Walmart, joining the retailer in 1995 and stepping down as CEO in early 2014. He has served on the board since 2008. At Carlyle Group, one of the world’s largest and most diversified global alternative asset management firms, Duke will serve as one of 26 operating executives who provide strategic guidance to Carlyle professionals throughout the investment process. He will also advise portfolio company executives on management, operational, branding and growth strategies.

“We are thrilled to welcome Mike to the Carlyle team following more than 40 years in the retail industry, including 20 years in increasingly senior roles at Wal-Mart. Mike will be an invaluable addition to our team, helping drive value creation within our existing portfolio and adding a new dimension as we research new investments,” said Sandra Horbach, Carlyle managing director and head of the Global Consumer and Retail group where Duke will lend his expertise.

Carlyle was founded in Washington, D.C. in 1987 and currently has more than $194 billion in assets under management. However, since the firm’s inception, it has invested only $12 billion of equity in 70 transactions in the consumer and retail space, including Dunkin’ Brands, CVC, NBTY, Beats, Vogue and Acosta.

“I am excited to partner with Sandra and her team and look forward to leveraging my experiences as an operator to build on Carlyle’s impressive consumer and retail investment track record,” Duke said.

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Do It Best relaunches ecommerce site

BY Dan Berthiaume

Fort Wayne, Ind. – Do it Best Corp., a hardware, lumber and building materials cooperative with 3,800 member-owned locations worldwide, has re-launched its ecommerce site on the WebLinc platform.

In addition, the company is unveiling a phased approach to re-launching individual member sites which will enable them to maintain their distinct, customer-facing identities while being integrated and powered by the same sophisticated commerce platform.

The new company site was built using responsive Web design to optimize the user experience for shoppers on smartphones, tablets and desktop computers. Within the first six months of launching the new website, Do it Best Corp. recorded a 7% increase in conversion rates. The company also saw a 34% improvement in page load time, a 3% increase in average time on the site, and a 5% decrease in bounce rate.

In mid-2015, Do it Best Corp. and WebLinc will enable members to re-launch their e-commerce sites on custom templates that leverage responsive Web design. This approach will also ensure that each individual business can retain its unique brand, logos, color scheme, and more, while maintaining the advanced technology functionality and benefits offered on the company’s website.

The new design will also provide members a single sign-on dashboard to access valuable business intelligence and analytics around best-selling products, order volume, profit, and site visit details – both nationally and within their individual online and offline stores. Members will also have access to email marketing and customer personalization capabilities through the dashboard.

“We are the only full-line, full-service, member-owned distributor in the independent home improvement industry, and we are committed to supporting our members with the best tools available to serve their customers,” said Brandon Wolf, ‎e-commerce manager at Do it Best Corp. “Part of this commitment means ensuring that our members have access to web and mobile commerce capabilities that are ahead of the industry standard. WebLinc’s approach to commerce is proven and enables us to leverage new agile technologies that fit our overall business and the goals of our members.”

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Toys “R” Us makes big difference for Special Olympics

BY CSA STAFF

When the Special Olympics get underway in late July in Los Angeles, a major awareness effort and hefty donation from Toys “R” Us will make a powerful contribution.

The retailer spent the past two months executing a broad-based campaign in stores and online to benefit the Special Olympics, which raised more than $4 million as well as awareness of an event in which roughly 7,000 athletes will participate.

“We could not be more pleased with the outpouring of support by our loyal customers for Special Olympics,” said Kathleen Waugh, chairman of the Toys“R”Us Children’s Fund. “These customer donations, combined with grants from the Toys “R” Us Children’s Fund, provided a significant contribution of nearly $4 million to Special Olympics to advance the organization’s efforts to bring the benefit of sports to kids of all abilities. As the 100-day countdown to the 2015 World Games commences, we’re eager to celebrate these children who will experience their very first sports moment on a grand stage.”

Throughout the duration of the eight-week awareness and fundraising program, Toys “R” Us customers pledged their support to help children with intellectual and developmental disabilities experience #MyFirstSportsMoment by learning how to hit balls, run bases, take jump shots and more through Special Olympics. One hundred percent of customer donations will be directed to Special Olympics and applied towards the upcoming 2015 World Games, as well as the expansion of the Young Athletes Program around the world. Additionally, the company celebrated the youngest Special Olympics athletes on its official social media channels, including Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram, where fans and followers shared their #MyFirstSportsMoment memories and experiences.

The Special Olympics run from July 25 through August 2 in Los Angeles and involve 7,000 athletes and 3,000 coaches from 177 countries.

As part of the expanded partnership between Toys “R” Us and Special Olympics, the Toys “R” Us Children’s Fund also awarded a $500,000 grant to the organization to advance its five-year plan to grow the Young Athletes Program in the U.S. and across the globe, so 2½ to 7 year olds everywhere can build critical physical, cognitive, and sports skills through the power of play.

“Special Olympics and Toys “R” Us have a tremendous legacy of working together and we’re thrilled to be expanding our relationship on such a global scale,” said Janet Froetscher, CEO of the Special Olympics. “The Toys “R” Us ‘My First’ initiative will allow us to reach more young athletes and provide them the opportunity to experience the transformative power and joy of sports.”

The Special Olympics promises to be the largest sports and humanitarian event anywhere in the world in 2015, and the single biggest event in Los Angeles since the 1984 Olympic Games. The opening ceremonies, in the historic Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, site of the 1932 and 1984 Olympics, is expected to draw 80,000 attendees.

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