Costco co-founder, chairman dies
A retail legend has passed.
The co-founder and chairman of Costco Wholesale Club, Jeff Brotman, 74, died Tuesday morning. He died in his sleep at his home and the cause of his death wasn’t immediately known.
Brotman's death came as a "complete shock," according to the Seattle Times. On the Monday night prior, he had attended a dinner for about 2,000 Costco warehouse managers from around the world who are gathered this week at the Washington State Convention Center, the report said.
"The thoughts of Costco’s board, management and employees are with Jeff’s wife and family,” Costco said in a statement. The company did not say who would succeed Brotman as chairman.
Brotman had retail in his blood from an early age. His father, Bernard Brotman, founded several specialty stores in the Tacoma Washington area. Brotman co-founded Costco Wholesale with Jim Sinegal, who served as the company's CEO until he stepped down in 2011. The two opened the first Costco warehouse club location in 1983, in Seattle, and built it into a global retail powerhouse. The company currently operates 736 warehouses, including 511 in the United States and Puerto Rico, 97 in Canada, 37 in Mexico, 28 in the United Kingdom, 25 in Japan, 13 in Korea, 13 in Taiwan, eight in Australia, two in Spain, one in Iceland and one in France.
Brotman previously served as chairman of the company's board from Costco's founding until 1993, when he became vice chairman of the company. Since December 1994, he served as chairman.
Brotman was famous for his philanthropy, which spanned the educational, medical and cultural arenas. He and his wife were major donors to the Democratic Party. Brotman also supported other entrepreneurs, and was an early investor in Starbucks.
“I will miss Jeff immensely. He was a dear friend, mentor and a brother,” Howard Schultz, Starbucks’ executive chairman, said in a statement. “He was one of the earliest believers and investors in Starbucks and in me.”
Schultz also commented on Brotman's charitable endeavors, describing him as "a shining light in the community contributing so much to Seattle and the nation. We have lost a titan of our community.”
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Women’s apparel powerhouse creates new executive position
The owner of Ann Taylor, Loft, DressBarn, Lane Bryant and other brands is consolidating its executive leadership structure as part of its efforts to reinvigorate top-line growth.
Gary Muto has been appointed to the newly created position of president and CEO of ascena Brands, with responsibility for reinvigorating and driving top-line growth across Ascena’s full brand portfolio. He will continue to lead the company’s premium fashion segment, and will now also provide strategic direction and leadership for the company’s plus, value and kids fashion segments.
In addition, Brian Lynch has been elevated to president and COO of ascena retail group. Lynch will continue to have responsibility for the retailer's operating platform and infrastructure, and will remain focused on the development and delivery of top-tier enterprise capabilities in supply chain, technology, product sourcing, real estate, and non-merchandise procurement.
The appointments come as Ascena has seen its brands battered by increased competition from online players and fast-fashion retailers. In June, it announced plans to close 250 of its stores during the next two years, and seek rent concessions for some 400 additional ones. The news came on the heels of a dismal third quarter during which total same-store sales fell 8% amid a decline in store traffic across all brands.
Both Muto and Lynch will continue to report to David Jaffe, chairman and CEO of ascena retail group. In a statement, Jeffe said the new executive management structure would enable faster decision making, accelerate implementation of company-wide initiatives, and foster greater accountability.
"We have recently completed an extensive evaluation of strategic opportunities that complement our core business, and leverage our brand and platform assets," said Jaffe. "The new management structure we are announcing today will allow me to increasingly focus my efforts on strategic growth initiatives. We have begun a search for a new senior executive who will be responsible for developing strategic opportunities, and all related business development activity will report directly to me."
Ascena retail group sells apparel, shoes and accessories for women through its premium fashion segment (Ann Taylor, Loft and Lou & Grey), value fashion segment (Dressbarn and Maurices), plus fashion segment (Lane Bryant and Catherines), and kids fashion segment (Justice). It operates e-commerce websites and approximately 4,800 stores throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.
Discounter adds new hiring academy
Walmart is making good on its promise to open 200 learning centers by year’s end.
The discounter is planning to open another employee training academy. The new location, which will be in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, is expected to open by end of 2017, according to the Argus Leader, a division of USA Today.
According to the report, the academy is part of Walmart’s plan to open 200 training centers by year’s end. Each academy serves multiple stores in an area, and trains approximately 100 employees each week.
Class sizes span between 15 and 30 employees. The associates are immersed in two-plus-week training sessions focused on leadership, merchandising, operations and customer service, as well as role-specific functions, the Argus Leader said.
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