OPERATIONS

Customers won’t pay more for Amazon Prime

BY Dan Berthiaume

Chicago — Consumers reportedly are not willing to pay higher fees for Amazon Prime subscription service. According to the Wall Street Journal, a recent survey of 300 current Amazon Prime members from research firm Consumer Intelligence Research Partners indicates fewer than half of members would renew their subscription at a higher cost.

At a $99 price point, fewer than half of Amazon Prime members said they would “definitely” or “probably” renew, and that percentage dropped to 40% when the price jumped to $119. Amazon currently charges $79 for a yearly subscription to Amazon Prime, which includes free two-day shipping, a streaming video service and a digital Kindle library.

In January, Amazon said it might raise the annual fee for Amazon Prime by $20 to $40, although no timetable was released. The main rationale for potentially raising the cost of Amazon Prime is reportedly that it has not changed since the program launched in 2005 and fuel and shipping costs have gone up significantly.

The news for Amazon Prime is not all bad, however. The survey also showed that 94% of Amazon Prime members said they will “definitely” or “probably” renew at current rates, and 100% of members who use the Amazon Prime streaming video service at least once a week also will definitely or probably renew if the price does not rise.

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OPERATIONS

Wal-Mart halts India expansion

BY Dan Berthiaume

Bentonville, Ark. — Wal-Mart is reportedly halting its Indian expansion plans, at least for now. According to the Financial Times, Wal-Mart has not opened any new cash-and-carry stores in India since October 2013 or any new convenience stores there since November 2013.

In addition, Wal-Mart’s Indian partner Bharti Enterprises has reportedly terminated more than 12 leases for what would have been new convenience stores in the past several months. According to the Financial Times, the Indian government may be investigating a possible loan Wal-Mart gave a loan to the Easy Day convenience store business it operates with Bharti, in violation of laws against direct foreign investment in Indian retail businesses, as well as allegations Wal-Mart may have bribed Indian officials. A Wal-Mart spokesperson declined comment.

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OPERATIONS

J.C. Penney names new CFO

BY Dan Berthiaume

Plano, Texas — J. C. Penney Company, Inc. has named Ed Record executive VP and CFO, effective March 24. He will succeed Ken Hannah, who will remain CFO through that date to ensure a smooth transition.

As CFO, Record will be responsible for the financial operations of the company. He will report to Myron E. (Mike) Ullman III, CEO of J.C. Penney, and join the company`s executive board.

Record, 45, has nearly 25 years of experience managing the financial and operational performance of multiple retailers. He spent over six years at Stage Stores, most recently serving as COO and prior to that, CFO. Before Stage, Record served as senior VP of finance at Kohl’s and as controller and senior VP of finance at Belk. Earlier in his career, he held a variety of finance positions of increasing responsibility at Federated Stores, leading to his eventual appointment as controller and VP of finance.

"Ed is a highly accomplished executive with a broad understanding of retail finance and operations,” said Ullman. “His extensive department store experience and track record of success make him an ideal candidate as we continue to advance our turnaround. On behalf of myself and the entire J.C. Penney team, I would like to thank Ken Hannah for his meaningful contributions to our turnaround and wish him success in his future endeavors."

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