DESIGN/CONSTRUCTION

Fitch names new creative director in North America

BY Marianne Wilson

Global retail and brand consultancy Fitch has appointed Andy Barlow creative director.

Barlow will relocate from the U.K. to lead multi-disciplinary creative teams, and work closely with the leadership across North America to grow and broaden the region’s offer. With over 25 years of design experience, agency and client side, Barlow has worked with Tesco, Harrods, and Amazon among others.

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C-SUITE

Pier 1 on hunt for new finance chief

BY Marianne Wilson

Pier 1 Imports' loss is Fossil Group's gain.

Pier 1 Imports announced that Jeffrey N. Boyer, executive VP and CFO, is leaving the company effective October 3, 2017 to become CFO of Fossil Group, where he has been a member of the board of directors since 2007. Pier 1 is appointing an executive search firm to conduct a search for a new CFO.

Separately, Pier 1 announced the appointment of IT veteran Bhargav J. Shah as senior VP and CIO, effective immediately. Shah comes to Pier 1 Imports with nearly 20 years of broad-based technology, digital and supply chain experience. He most recently served as CIO and head of e-Commerce at IntegraCore, a global supply chain management company. Prior to that, he was CIO and CTO at online retailer Overstock.com.

"We are pleased to have someone with Bhargav’s expertise join Pier 1 Imports," said Alasdair James, president and CEO. "He brings a diverse skill set that includes IT strategy, cloud computing, artificial intelligence and machine learning, as well as an impressive track record of driving automation and growth. Importantly, we also expect to benefit from his retail systems experience.”

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MARKETING/SOCIAL MEDIA

Simon launches ‘concierge bot’

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Simon is debuting a new type of concierge — one that never calls in sick.

The mall owner launched a chatbot designed to deliver customers at its 208 North American centers useful information as they shop. Described as the industry’s first enterprise-wide bot, the artificial intelligence-based technology is available through Facebook Messenger, and provides store and restaurant information, hours of operation, special events, daily promotions and a list of available amenities.

“Our concierge bot is another example of our ongoing efforts to enhance the shopping experience at our centers,” said Mikael Thygesen, chief marketing officer for Simon, and head of its innovation efforts. “Millions of Facebook Messenger users now have access to a broad set of information about their favorite center.”

Simon’s concierge bot also provides personalized recommendations specific to the shopper’s mall of choice. Customers can also access tailored lifestyle content based on the solution’s ‘Simon SAID’ service — Simon’s fashion, beauty and dining publication.

“Simon is connecting the real world with the digital world, through the latest mobile messaging technologies,” says Christian Brucculeri, CEO of Snaps, which helped developed Simon’s concierge bot. "Simon is at the forefront of the messaging evolution and an innovator in the mall technology space. We look forward to adding more capabilities and intelligence to this bot over the coming months.”

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