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Foot Locker to buy German athletic footwear chain Runners Point

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Foot Locker Inc. said Wednesday that it will buy German athletic store chain Runners Point Warenhandelsges (RPG) for 72 million euros ($94 million) as it expands in Europe.

RPG, which had sales of $254 million for 2012, operates more than 200 stores — with its most prominent banners being Runners Point and Sidestep — as well as an online subsidiary, Tredex. Most its stores are in Germany, although there are also Runners Point and Sidestep locations in The Netherlands, Austria, and Switzerland.

"We are excited to be adding Runners Point, a fast-growing, multi-format and multichannel business, to our already-strong European operations," said Ken C. Hicks, chairman and CEO of Foot Locker, which operates 3,335 stores in 23 countries in North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. "This acquisition will enhance our position in Germany, the strongest economy in Europe, and also provide us with additional banners to further diversify and expand our European business. We also intend to leverage Tredex’s strong digital capabilities to accelerate growth in our own developing European e-commerce business."

RPG is currently majority owned by the private equity firm HANNOVER Finanz. The company’s CEO, Otto Hurler, and CFO, Harald Wittig own the balance of the chain. Both Hurler and Wittig, along with other members of senior management, will remain with the company post-acquisition.

The transaction is subject to review by merger control authorities in Germany.

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Doggie smiles contest promotes pet oral hygiene

BY CSA STAFF

OMAHA, Neb. — Sergeant’s Pet Care Products, an Omaha, Neb.-based manufacturer of pet products, engaged shoppers while promoting good oral hygiene for pets with its national Sentry Petrodex Superstar Smiles photo contest, sponsored by the company’s Sentry Petrodex dental brand.

Three-year-old yellow Labrador Retriever Flash took the top prize.

"He is very smart and affectionate. A total ‘people person’," said his owner, Amanda, who lives with Flash in San Diego, Calif. "One of the tricks he made his own was a love for closing refrigerator, cupboard and home doors. Flash and our 20-month-old son are attached at the hip and are always keeping each other entertained and in trouble."

Flash is also an international canine. He was born in Queensland, Australia, and moved with his family to the United States last year. While in Australia, Flash enjoyed going to the Outback, participating in animal charity walks and swimming in the tropical Queensland waters. He has a fan base there that still sends him toys and treats. But according to his owner, he’s settled into his California life well.

As the contest’s Grand Prize winner, Flash’s owner received a Canon EOS Digital Rebel T3 Digital SLR Camera Kit and a variety of Sentry Petrodex pet dental care products. Radio personality and pet enthusiast Steve Dale served as the celebrity judge of the nationwide contest, which received nearly 2,000 photo entries in just four weeks.

"The competition was fierce, and choosing the winner from the five finalists was a tough one," Dale stated. "I just kept going back to Flash’s expression and his happiness, which radiated through the photo. His star quality is strong, and from his smile and healthy teeth, it’s clear that his owner is taking care of him well!"

"The Sentry Petrodex contest is becoming a tradition now, and we always receive so many photos of beautiful dogs," said Patsy Sumner, VP of marketing services at Sergeant’s. "It is touching for those of us who work in the pet products industry to see how these products benefit pets. Congratulations to Flash. We wish him happiness and dental health for many years to come."

Sergeant’s Pet Care Products is part of the Perrigo Company, a leading global manufacturer of OTC healthcare products. Sergeant’s also manufactures flea and tick treatments, health and well-being solutions and treats for dogs and cats, all of which are available at grocery, mass, dollar, drug and club retailers.

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Michaels marches to pomp and circumstance

BY CSA STAFF

IRVING, Texas — Michaels is not the first place you think of when it comes to getting a pair of shoes for graduation day, but the arts and crafts retailer is courting graduates seeking to jazz up their footwear for their big day.

According to Michaels, one of the season’s top trends is to personalize shoes with beads, jewels, paint, feathers, yarn and charms, so the retailer is inviting graduates to “DIY” their shoes to add “flash and whimsy” to their commencement gear. To that end, Michael’s has uploaded a video to its website that shows students transforming their high-top sneakers, platform pumps, wedges, boots and flats into colorful, one-of-a-kind works of art.

"That walk across the stage is a huge milestone in a young person’s life, and many of them want to make their own personal mark with each step," said Michaels CMO Paula Puleo. "In every aisle at Michaels, we have products to spark their creativity, provide inspiration for graduation-themed celebrations or help preserve memories of this important time."

DIY graduation shoes are not the only way Michaels is courting the graduation market. The retailer offers personalized party ideas, including graduation-themed cupcakes, gift card holders, place cards, banners and class spirit T-shirts, on its website. It also offers personalized graduation announcements, graduation-themed party favors and scrapbook pages to preserve memories.

And of course, Michaels is billing its framing department, which offers custom- and ready-made framing, so graduates can display their diplomas.

Michaels operates more than 1,105 stores in 49 states and Canada and 123 Aaron Brothers stores. It produces 11 exclusive private brands including Recollections, Studio Decor, Bead Landing, Creatology, Ashland, Celebrate It, Art Minds, Artist’s Loft, Craft Smart, Loops & Threads and Imagin8.

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