REAL ESTATE

Electronic Arts makes retail debut with EA Sports Experience

BY Marianne Wilson

New York City — Videogame maker Electronic Arts has entered the retail arena, opening the EA Sports Experience store, at the Charlotte Douglas International airport, Charlotte, N.C. It will open two additional U.S. airport locations by the end of 2011.

The store sells EA Sports’ games and branded apparel, as well as gear from local sports teams. It features televisions with live sports programming, comfortable seating and electrical outlets to charge portable devices. Customers can also play their favorite EA Sports video games.

“With a passionate local sports fan base and more than 20 million flyers traveling through the Charlotte Douglas International airport each year, this was an ideal location to open this venue,” said Christopher Erb, VP brand marketing, EA Sports. “We’re excited to extend our brand and products to new audiences by providing unique and premium experiences for consumers.”

Additional EA Sports stores are planned to open at the Salt Lake City International Airport in October and the Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City in November.

“Paradies is proud to begin its exclusive partnership with EA Sports,” said Gregg Paradies, president and CEO. “We look forward to expanding our relationship with this innovative brand to offer customers a true interactive experience, unlike any other found in airports today.”

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OPERATIONS

Sears appoints supply chain head

BY Staff Writer

Hoffman Estates, Ill. — Sears Holdings announced that Raj Penkar will be joining Sears Holdings on Sept. 15 as senior VP and president, supply chain. He will be accountable for all aspects of the company’s supply chain, including logistics, warehousing, inventory management and distribution.

Penkar joins Sears Holdings following a successful 24-year career at UPS, where he most recently served as president of UPS’ customer solutions division.

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OPERATIONS

Wal-Mart bringing back layaways for holiday shopping

BY Marianne Wilson

Bentonville, Ark. — Wal-Mart Stores will introduce a holiday layaway plan effective Oct. 17 through Dec. 16. The program has a minimum layaway purchase of $50, and requires a 10% down payment. If the program is successful, Wal-Mart said it may extend it throughout the year.

When Wal-Mart phased out its previous layaway offer in September 2006, such programs had fallen out of popularity. But Sears and some merchants brought back layaways as the recession cut into spending.

"We’re always looking for ways to ease budget strain for our customers, and we know this holiday season brings with it additional financial pressure," said Duncan MacNaughton, chief merchandising officer at Wal-Mart’s U.S. division. "This was a key component that our customers asked us for."

In other holiday news, Wal-Mart said that beginning on Monday, it will unveil price cuts on dozens of holiday toys to $15. It also plans to start offering small samples of holiday merchandise, including outdoor decor, later this month — two weeks earlier than a year ago.

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