Chain Store Age announces SPECS/2018 Advisory Board, new marketing

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Chain Store Age announced the selection of the Advisory Board for SPECS/2018, the annual retail event produced by CSA and attended by retail and food-service executives who plan, design, build, and maintain stores and restaurants nationwide.

Now in its 54th year, SPECS will host its 2018 conference in Dallas, at the Gaylord Texan, March 18-20. The event will focus on what’s next, and what is shaping the future of physical retail.

The SPECS Advisory Board, which is comprised of 46 industry leaders both from leading retail companies and key supplier organizations, will advise and direct the educational program for the 2018 conference. The packed slate of workshops, roundtables and panel presentations covers a wide range of emerging and evolving issues – and the Board, as industry insiders, plays a key role in the planning and creation of each.

Five veteran members were selected as Executive Advisory Board members, charged with team leadership and overall program direction:

Richard Elkins, director of construction services, Firehouse Subs; Craig Hale, associate, HFA; Lori Koeppe, operations coordinator, The Buckle; Lisa Smola-Hollo, project manager, growth and development, ULTA Beauty; and Wendy Whetton, senior facilities project manager, Harbor Freight Tools. Serving as a rotating Executive Advisory Board member to assist with team leadership is Renee Tobin, strategic sourcing manager, Brookdale Senior Living.

Following is a listing of the SPECS/2018 Advisory Board.

Aaron Ancello, VP, regional facilities manager, TD Bank

Dan Beeman, president, Beeman Development Group

Lisa Bien-Sinz, SVP marketing and HR, Inside Edge Commercial Interior Services

Dan Bilancia, business development manager, Johnson Controls/York

Brad Bogart, president, Retail Contractors Association

Mike Burton, director of construction and corporate facilities, The Home Depot

Brandon Collier, director of architecture, design and store planning, RaceTrac Petroleum

David DiCarlo, regional director of construction, rue21

Greg Duchane, director, retail-restaurant national accounts, Trane

Richard Elkins, director of construction services, Firehouse Subs

Brian Foster, senior VP, Paint Folks

Bridget Farrell, senior manager of architecture and building design, JCPenney

Mike Gordon, facilities maintenance manager, Fogo de Chao

Greg Green, divisional VP national accounts, Orion Energy Systems

Scott Griffin, director of store design, Stein Mart

Craig Hale, Associate, HFA

Nick Hanson, construction coordinator, Whole Foods Market, 365 by Whole Foods Market

Susan Hecht, VP, solutions development, sales, SMS Assist

Al Hellaby, senior project manager, development group, Wegmans Food Markets

George Holz, director of construction, Warby Parker

Angie Huff, VP/retail, NGS Films and Graphics

Keith Johnson, director of store design, Dollar Tree & Family Dollar Stores

Lisa Johnson, VP, Interstate Signcrafters

Bob Keingstein, president, BOSS Facility Services

Christie King, senior architect, proto and new formats, Wal-Mart Stores

Tiffany Ko, program manager, store development, lululemon athletica

Lori Koeppe, operations coordinator, The Buckle

Sally Lee, market segment manager-retail, Sylvania-LEDVANCE

Kevin Nolen, director of retail expansion and facilities, Z Gallerie

Jim Pagano, executive VP, Boston Barricade

Randy Pannell, VP of construction, Saks Fifth Avenue

Vaun Podlogar, president, State Permits

Terry Pratt, senior construction project manager, Academy Sports and Outdoors

Rob Reiter, chief security consultant, Calpipe Security Bollards

Kristen Roodvoets, senior manager of retail store planning and development, Alex and Ani

Eric Russell, director of construction, L Brands

Lisa Schwartz, president, ProCoat

Lisa Smola-Hollo, project manager, growth and development, Ulta Beauty

Kevin Tierney, VP strategic accounts retail, Tarkett

Renee Tobin, strategic sourcing manager, Brookdale Senior Living

Bennett Van Wert, national sales manager, DWM Inc.

Eric Voyles, director of Facilities Management, Dollar General

Wendy Whetton, senior facilities project manager, Harbor Freight Tools

Jason Woods, senior project manager, Tesla

Tracy Scanlan Zaslow, senior director of design and construction, Luxury Brand Holdings

Melissa Zimmerman, director of store care, Walgreens

Chain Store Age also unveiled a new tagline to be used in all SPECS 2018 marketing and promotional efforts: The Forefront of Physical Retail.

“SPECS has always been about brick-and-mortar retail,” said Katherine Boccaccio, executive director of events. “And we haven’t wavered from that position. Physical stores are here to stay, and our events are designed to present and discuss the latest innovations impacting brick-and-mortar stores as well as focus on the future of physical retail.

“The new tagline sums up that position, and reflects what our Board and our attendees come to SPECS to learn about,” said Boccaccio.

Are you interested in learning more about the qualifications required for SPECS Advisory Board consideration? Contact Katherine Boccaccio, Executive Director of Events, at[email protected], for details.


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Amazon’s shoe business outpacing brick-and-mortar competitors

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Amazon’s investments in the shoe business are paying off.

While 2017 is not even close to over, it is shaping up to being a strong year for shoes on Amazon. The company has already experienced 18% growth year-over-year during the first two quarters, alone. For 2016, Amazon had a total of 35% year-over-year growth, according to a study by One Click Retail.

These growth rates blow away total U.S. shoe revenues for 2016, which topped out at a 5% year-over-year increase. These were based on online and offline purchases among shoe-specific stores.

Amazon’s best-selling category for the first two quarters of 2017 is athletic shoes, which so far, has generated $205 million in sales. However, the category has only experienced a 45% YoY growth rate to date.

The company’s biggest growth category so far is juniors, which is at a 235% year-over-year growth rate, generating $120 million in sales to date. Comfort shoes is at a 210% growth, and kids’ shoes are at a 40% growth rate so far.

Adidas claims the title for the top growing item in Amazon’s shoe portfolio for the first two quarters.

Based on Amazon’s recent investments, the company’s shoe sales are on pace to continue their upward trajectory. Buying Zappos in 2009 for $1.2 billion gave Amazon a leg up in the category, but new opportunities are on the horizon. On July 25, the online giant stepped up its game with the introduction of The Fix, new private-label shoe and handbag line.

In June, Amazon introduced its Prime Wardrobe service, a program that allows Prime members to try on shoes, clothing and accessories for free. Shoppers can keep the merchandise for seven days, returning unwanted pieces and paying only for the items they keep.

The online giant also launched a pilot with Nike that will allow the sportswear giant to sell a limited selection of footwear, apparel, and accessories on Amazon. While Nike products have long been available on Amazon through unauthorized third party sellers, this program marks the first time that Nike has sold directly on the Amazon.


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Bed, Bath & Beyond in workforce reduction

BY Marianne Wilson

The ax has fallen at Bed, Bath & Beyond as part of the realignment of its .store management structure.

The retailer said it has initiated in approximately half of its U.S. Bed Bath & Beyond stores and about a dozen of its buybuy Baby stores a limited realignment of its store management organization that will result in the elimination of about 880 department and assistant store manager positions.

"As we work to continue to satisfy our customers through our omnichannel capabilities, the role of our stores is also evolving, and remains crucial to achieving our mission of being trusted by our customers as the expert for the home and heart-felt life events," said Steven H. Temares, CEO, Bed Bath & Beyond, Union, New Jersey. "The actions taken today to accelerate the realignment of our store management will allow us to better support our customer-focused initiatives as well as support our omnichannel growth, while driving operational excellence."

The changes are estimated to generate future annual pre-tax cost savings for the retailer of approximately $16 million, with the pre-tax cost savings for the remainder of fiscal 2017 are estimated to be approximately $7 million. The company expects to incur related restructuring charges of approximately $17 million in fiscal 2017, primarily for severance and related costs, all of which will be expensed in the second quarter.

"These actions accelerate a transition in store management roles that began more than a year ago through store hiring practices and attrition," the company stated. "These efforts simplify the store management structure and strengthen the company's ability to meet the growing and changing desires of its customers by focusing additional staffing needs in non-management roles, and placing less emphasis on a management structure that supported a more rapid rate of store growth."

In addition, Bed Bath & Beyond said it has established a "strategic portfolio management office," and additional resources have been engaged, including industrial engineers, to drive operational excellence.


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