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Diab to lead health & wellness at Walmart

BY CSA STAFF

Labeed Diab has been named SVP and president of health and wellness at Walmart, filling a position previously held by Dr. John Agwunobi who left the company.

Diab previous served as SVP of pharmacy operations for Walmart’s Midwest division and was based in Chicago. He joined the company in 2009 as a director of operations and began his career as a pharmacy manager with American Stores and also served in regional and divisional operations roles with CVS Caremark and Rite Aid. He graduated with a bachelor of science in pharmacy and a minor in business administration from Southwestern Oklahoma State University.

“The passion and commitment to our customers Labeed has will ensure we continue to accelerate our health and wellness growth in the future, helping even more Americans get access to high quality, innovative and affordable healthcare solutions,” Walmart chief merchandising officer Duncan Mac Naughton said in an internal announcement. “Our health and wellness business is an important category for our customers and our company, and we are committed to investing for future growth.”

Diab fills a position previously held by Agwunobi who came to be known affectionately at Walmart as Dr. John. He joined the company in September 2007 and during his tenure played a key role in developing health and wellness solutions that significantly lowered the cost of healthcare for millions of Americans, according to Mac Naughton.

“He made enhancements to the prescription program, which drove down prescription medication costs and provided ongoing savings through our pharmacy offerings,” Mac Naughton said. “And he has continued to drive innovation in the space by testing new concepts that position Walmart well for the future. Now, as the face of healthcare in America continues to change, he’s looking forward to exploring and engaging in other areas in the field.”

Labeed has a strong background in operations and health care and during his leadership of the company’s Midwest division Walmart was able to penetrate Chicago with small format concept stores, according to the announcement.

“As a college student, I decided to pursue a career in pharmacy.Healthcare was my passion then and it remains my passion today,” Diab said.“With millions of customers shopping our stores every day, we have a responsibility to provide best-in-class healthcare for our customers. In this new role, I look forward to going back to my days of educating customers and offering healthcare products and services that will help our customers live healthier lives.”

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Former Levi and Gap execs get True Religion

BY CSA STAFF

Premium denim brand True Religion named former top executives from Levi Strauss & Co., and Gap inc., to its board of directors.

The purveyor of premium products said John Anderson and Marka Hansen agreed to serve on its board. Anderson spent 32 years at Levi Strauss & Co, ultimately serving as president and CEO while Hansen previously spent 24 years at Gap and most recently served as president of Gap North America.

“(Anderson and Hansen) bring an unparalleled understanding of the denim industry,” said True Religion CEO David Conn. “John’s background as CEO of Levi Strauss will be a valuable asset in guiding our business strategy and global operations and Marka’s product expertise will help support the evolution of our iconic brand positioning. John and Marka will serve as a resource for our management team and we are fortunate to benefit from their insight as we continue to position True Religion for the future.”

True Religion operates 148 stores in North America and 30 international locations and its products are also sold in department stores and boutiques.

The company’s distribution strategy is a far cry from the mass market approach which Anderson and Hansen are most familiar.

“True Religion is a strong, iconic brand with deep roots as a leader in premium denim,” said Anderson said. “David has set the company on the right path and built an outstanding management team. True Religion is now well-positioned to continue bringing innovation to the industry throughout its next phase of growth.”

Hansen added that, “joining the board of True Religion is an opportunity to work with one of the best management teams I have seen. True Religion is an original, visionary brand that has strong heritage and great potential.

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Weather weakens results at Jos. A. Bank

BY CSA STAFF

After a strong start to the holiday season, harsh weather took a toll on Jos. A. Bank which reported solid profit growth and a 1.8% same store sales increase during what is likely to be one of the company’s final earnings reports as a public company.

Jos. A. Bank agreed to be acquired by Men’s Wearhouse for $65 a share on March 11 and the transaction is expected to close by the third quarter of this year. The financial results the company reported on Wednesday were for the company’s fourth quarter ended March 1, and therefore didn’t include a large portion of sales related to the holidays. For example, Jos. A. Bank previously reported a 9.1% same store sales increase for the period between November 3, 2013 and December 24.

However, harsh weather following the holidays took a toll on the company’s momentum, but president and CEO Neal Black said trends have improved of late.

"We have generated double-digit total sales gains in fiscal February and the first four weeks of fiscal March of 2014, reflecting positive consumer response to our promotions as well as ongoing strength in the non-promotional portion of our business. We are focused on maintaining this sales momentum while improving our profitability,” Black said.

The operator of 633 stores was solidly profitable in the fourth quarter, growing adjusted earnings per share by 9% to $1.07 compared to 98 cents the prior year. The profit figures excludes expenses totaling seven cents a share related to legal and professional services in conjunction with the Men’s Wearhouse acquisition.

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