OPERATIONS

Claire’s Stores names head of European business

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Chicago –Claire’s Stores, Inc. said Tuesday that it has named Beatrice Lafon President of the European Division, effective immediately.

In her position as President of Europe, Lafon will lead the continued growth and expansion of the European business, with direct oversight of buying, merchandising and allocation, supply chain, stores, and the overall operations for approximately 1,100 stores across 13 countries.

Lafon will report to Gene Kahn, CEO.

She has served in executive positions at TJ Hughes in the UK, Etam Group in the Netherlands, and Animal Ltd. in the UK, as well as held a variety of retail positions at Woolworths Group.

“I am excited about the opportunity to work with Beatrice, in concert with the other members of the European and Global Senior Management Teams, as we continue to focus our efforts to reverse the recent negative performance in Europe and grow the European division to make Claire’s a dominant retailer of fashionable accessories and jewelry at affordable prices in each of our key markets for our targeted customer groups," said Kahn.

Lafon succeeds Kenny Wilson, who served in the position for more than two years.

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FINANCE

First Data and Associated Bank renew merchant services agreement

BY Staff Writer

Atlanta–First Data Corp. and Associated Bank said Tuesday that the companies have signed a long-term merchant services renewal agreement.

Through the agreement, First Data will continue to provide merchant processing services to the bank’s business clients nationwide, providing them access to a comprehensive line of electronic payment solutions, including acceptance of all major credit cards including PIN and signature-based debit cards, gift cards, customized reporting and electronic check verification services.

The agreement continues a 30-year relationship between the two companies.

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News

Pricing parity at hand in latest survey

BY CSA STAFF

The pricing gap between Target and Walmart narrowed last month to a scant 1.7% as Walmart took prices up slightly during August while Target did the opposite, according to a monthly survey by the retail research team at Credit Suisse.

The survey looks at a basket of comparable items at Target, Walmart and other competitors’ stores in the Dallas and Chicago market. The firm noted that the average basket price across all surveyed retailers was up 1.6% year over year, ledby a 5.4% pricing increase at Walmart. However, it was down 1.4% inAugust versus July, as Walmart was the only retailer to increase prices month-to-month. Meanwhile, Target decreased prices 0.9% month-to-month but increased prices by 2.7% year-to-year. As a result, Target’s price gap versus Walmart stood at 1.7% in August, excluding the REDcard Rewards 5% discount, compared with a 3.4% gap the prior month.

“The lower end consumer continues to be strained, and data suggests that retailers may be beginning to feel some resistance,” according to a research note the firm published. “However, despite Walmart’s publicly stated goal to be ‘relentless in widening the price gap,’ it seems that Walmart’s price gap is contracting. This could provide some near term relief for other retailers, but it could also cause (Walmart) to renew its focus on price leadership.”

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