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David Cheesewright appointed Walmart International chief

BY CSA STAFF

Currently president and CEO of Walmart’s Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) and Canada region, David Cheesewright has been promoted to president and CEO of Walmart International, the company’s second largest operating segment.

Cheesewright will report to Doug McMillon, who was tapped to succeed Mike Duke as the company’s president and CEO. Both assume their new roles Feb. 1, 2014. Cheesewright’s successor will be named at a later date.

"David will lead the division at an exciting time," said McMillon. "We have strengthened our business and gained market share in the majority of our international markets, and he had a key role in that success. He brings a wealth of experience and a proven track record of innovation and governance. With his deep knowledge of the company, our customers, and our purpose, he is the ideal person to steer our next chapter of continued, long-term growth. David’s passion for sustainability will drive change that will help improve our world."

"I’m honored to be named to lead our international business at a time when our customers around the world need us more than ever," said Cheesewright. "A tremendous opportunity lies ahead for our company. Our success is dependent on our associates, and I’m committed to investing in them. Together, we will find innovative and sustainable ways to serve our customers and provide them with the quality, affordable products they expect from us. Through strong capital discipline, we will continue to invest in new stores and e-commerce growth, as well as productivity improvements that drive profitable growth and returns."

Cheesewright’s career spans more than 25 years across the international retail and manufacturing sectors. His Walmart career began in 1999 at Asda, the company’s U.K. operation, where he held leadership positions in operations, merchandising, logistics, strategy and format development. He was the COO for both Walmart Canada and Asda before being named CEO of Walmart Canada. While there, Cheesewright is credited with leading the growth of the company’s Canadian operations, including bringing Walmart’s highly successful supercenter format to the Canadian market and expanding the company’s e-commerce capabilities.

In 2011, he was named to his current position as president and CEO of Walmart’s EMEA and Canada region, where he oversaw the integration of the Massmart acquisition in Sub-Saharan Africa and more aggressive growth in the U.K. through the Netto stores acquisition. He helped develop and expand Asda’s online grocery delivery program and serves on the board of Walmart’s China e-commerce business, Yihaodian. Before his career with Walmart, Cheesewright held leadership positions in the United Kingdom with Mars Confectionery. He holds a first-class honors joint degree in sports science and mathematics from Loughborough University, England.

Walmart’s International division generates nearly 30% of the company’s revenue, serving more than 109 million customers every week in more than 6,200 retail units under 64 banners in 26 countries outside the U.S. In the third quarter 2013, Walmart International grew net sales to $33.1 billion. On a constant currency basis, net sales increased 4.1% to $34.4 billion.

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Cloud is 2013’s Doorbuster: Smooth Your Holiday Cost Spikes With Technology

BY CSA STAFF

By Alex Brown, CEO, 10th Magnitude

I certainly don’t have to tell you that the 2013 holiday retail season is upon us, since you’ve probably had to plan your technology all year to handle the imminent spikes in in-store and online traffic. And, in just a couple of weeks, you’ll start planning your technology budget for 2014’s holiday season.

But what if I said that you don’t have to start your 2014 holiday season planning with a functional website assessment, a capacity needs forecast and a customer service review? Instead you could have an innovative envisioning session to brainstorm new technology strategies and mobile applications that would make costs smoother, customers happier and sales associates more effective next year from Thanksgiving to New Year’s? Sounds more appealing, right?

And you can make “nice to have” improvements that smooth holiday customer spikes without increasing your IT costs. Moving your data, storage, website, systems and other technology used to run your business and your stores into the cloud is the trick. The move to the cloud creates three critical dynamics:

1. Your IT costs come down because you only pay for the capacity you use. You no longer have to provision capacity and maintain staff and systems for your greatest use levels.

2. The savings you have now harvested from capacity going into the cloud can be reinvested into applications that mobilize your workforce to better serve your customers.

3. Your cost base shifts from a capex model geared towards hardware and datacenter provisioning to an opex model that keeps costs of IT in line with revenue.

All of a sudden, you have dollars coming back into your budget — how often does that happen? Let me describe a couple of the many interesting scenarios I see from that opportunity.

One area that seems ripe for improvement is the cost structure associated with hiring, training and outfitting seasonal workers. The challenge is to outfit these additional staffers quickly and easily with the selling tools they need. Once you have cloud-enabled your back end, customer and product information, you can provide all your workers real-time access to that data via a mobile application specifically designed to best address your customers’ unique shopping needs. Sales associates can use familiar, easy to understand, inexpensive mobile devices (such as phones and tablets) to scan products for information about stock, pricing, color availability, backorder status etc.

The increased network usage from additional sales associates only two months a year is no problem — cloud capacity scales up and down with your needs. Your sales force would no longer be tied to a dumb terminal and make customers wait through laborious stock checks. Depending on your particular business model, there are numerous other functions that you can program your application to handle.

Another exciting opportunity is in the social media space. Imagine a geo-aware application that offers customers close to your store promotional incentives. For example: I’m a customer who has given you my mobile number or email. As I’m driving through Anytown, where your flagship store is located, I get a text message offering me a limited time, targeted incentive. Additionally, you could do micro targeted promotions via social media.

These projects would have been unthinkable in the past because of the cost—particularly for a smaller retail chain. You would have needed proprietary technology and devices, and creating an application that harnesses data from multiple back-end systems and connects over mobile and Internet would have been next to impossible to do inside of your firewall. Now, cloud allows you to bridge information across multiple systems, seamlessly.

If you’re a major retail chain, you’ve no doubt heard of, understand and probably even use elements of cloud’s on-demand capacity and vast, flexible data storage. You may have even put your dev/test environments in the cloud and, if you’re on the leading edge of the curve, you’ve moved other workloads to the cloud as well. If so you should see the benefits in your P&L this holiday season.

If you’re a smaller chain, cloud may be a relatively unknown quantity. Think of it this way: If your website usually has 2,000 customers each week but in November and December the number goes to 25,000, why should you pay all year to have enough capacity for that huge spike that you only need for 30 days out of the year? With cloud the capacity is flexible and you only pay for what you use at any given time.

Whether you are managing a big cloud-savvy chain or small cloud-newbie chain, you are probably only seeing the tip of the iceberg of possibilities. In addition to the scenarios I talked about before, there are untold ways using the cloud can not only lower costs but also open the floodgates on innovation that can improve sales.

As retailers move more back end systems into the cloud, the data they aggregate will create exponentially greater opportunities for improving customer satisfaction. I would urge you to use 2013 as a jumping off point for ideas.

After the holiday season, ask yourself these questions:

• What technology levels do you feel you have to buy for next year?
• Where were the problems or limitations in your system this year?
• What convenience or service do you want to offer customers next year?
• What would make sales associates more efficient?
• What data do you wish your employees had immediate access to?

There are infinite opportunities that exist to not only smooth out costs but also improve sales and customer service by transitioning to the cloud. What can you imagine?

Alex Brown is CEO Of 10th Magnitude, a cloud software and services firm that exists at the critical crossroads of cutting-edge technology and exceptional user experience. They develop custom software applications, provide application management and enable Microsoft Azure migration to help businesses of all sizes innovate and compete more effectively.


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Pep Boys continues expanding new format

BY CSA STAFF

The Pep Boys is converting 18 recently acquired Service & Tire Centers in Southern California to its new Road Ahead format and preparing for the grand reopening of six supercenters and five Service & Tire Centers in Tampa, Fla.

The company already converted nine Service & Tire Centers to the Road Ahead format this year, and reported that performance at those stores has been ahead of original projections. The company also plans to convert three additional smaller markets (20 supercenters) in the first half of 2014.

News of its expansion plans comes immediately following the company’s third-quarter results for the period ended Nov. 2, which saw sales decrease by $2.6 million, or 0.5%, to $507.0 million from $509.6 million for the prior-year quarter.

Comparable sales decreased 2.8%, consisting of a 0.5% comparable service revenue increase and a 3.6% comparable merchandise sales decrease.

Net earnings for the third quarter of fiscal 2013 were $1 million, or $0.02 per share, as compared to a net loss of $6.8 million, or $0.13 per share, for the prior-year quarter.

“Our strategically important maintenance and repair service business grew in sales for the sixth consecutive quarter,” said president and CEO, Mike Odell. "As the weather has turned colder, tire sales have started to improve, with mid-level price points and branded tires leading the way. Competitive pressures, however, continue to challenge sales of lower price point tires."

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