OPERATIONS

Former Saks CEO Sadove to lead new tech-focused division at Traub Associates

BY Dan Berthiaume

New York — Steve Sadove, former chairman and CEO of Saks Inc., has joined consulting firm Marvin Traub Associates to launch a new division focused on innovative technologies, concepts and platforms in the retail and consumer industries. Sadove is heading up the new Traub Accelerator division as co-founder, and will also advise Traub’s traditional clients and join the board of directors.

“We are thrilled to launch this new division under the direction of Steve Sadove, whose passion for innovation and technology in our industry aligns with our mission of helping cutting edge companies develop and grow fresh ideas to reach their full potential,” said Mortimer Singer, CEO of Marvin Traub Associates. “As technology continues to transform the way consumers shop, powerful results occur when innovative ideas connect with industry expertise and insight.”

Traub Accelerator’s first projects include helping Powa Technologies bring its “point of impulse” shopping app, PowaTag, to the United States. Pioneered in Europe, the app ets consumers use mobile devices to scan and instantly buy tagged products that they see in display ads, magazines, billboards and shop windows. Fast Retailing Co.’s Comptoir des Cotonniers division recently launched the service.

Sadove led Saks from 2006-2013, leaving in September, a couple months after Saks was acquired by Hudson’s Bay Company.. His career spans more than 25 years in consumer goods companies. He was the president of Clairol, as well as the president of worldwide beauty care and nutritionals at Bristol-Myers Squibb. Sadove also spent 17 years at Kraft General Foods, rising to the position of executive VP of General Foods USA, prior to taking on the Clairol position.

Sadove also serves as the chairman of the National Retail Federation (NRF), and is a board member of JCPenney, Aramark, Ruby Tuesday, and Colgate-Palmolive.

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FINANCE

First Data: Consumer spending grows 4.2% in May

BY Dan Berthiaume

Atlanta — Consumer spending in the United States grew 4.2% year-over-year in May 2014, compared to April’s 4.1% year-over-year growth. According to Spend Trend analysis from First Data Corp., spending growth was driven by May’s warm weather, which specifically spurred spending on travel and home improvement.

Gas station spending growth of 3.6% was higher compared to April’s growth of 3.3% and was another key supporting factor in overall growth as gas prices remained elevated compared to the prior year. Retail spending growth of 1.7% marked a slight uptick compared to April’s growth of 1.3% as warmer weather across most regions, with the exception of the Northeast, supported retail foot traffic. Overall retail spending growth in May marked the strongest growth in seven months, primarily driven by spending at building material & supply dealers (6.7% in May compared to 3.6% in April) and furniture & home furnishings merchants (1.4% in May compared to -0.7% in April).

Average ticket growth of 1.2 % in May gained steam against April’s 0.5% growth, driven by higher year-over-year gas prices, higher food prices and an increase in some leisure-related categories. Retail average ticket growth of 0% was an improvement from April’s negative growth of -1.1% as many retailers returned to full price selling instead of discounting used to boost foot traffic during and after the extended winter.

“A number of factors, including normalized weather, pent-up demand, falling unemployment and rising home prices supported consumers’ willingness to spend in May,” said Krish Mantripragada, senior VP, information and analytics solutions, First Data. “Credit card spending growth continued to be strong and led all other payment types. The surge in spending growth at hotel and travel merchants, building material & home furnishing merchants, where credit is the primary payment tool, was a major driver supported by easing lending standards and payroll growth.”

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FINANCE

European Union tax investigation could affect Starbucks, Apple

BY Dan Berthiaume

Brussels, Belgium — The European Union (E.U.) is investigating lucrative tax breaks individual member countries such as Ireland, the Netherlands and Luxembourg have been giving major global companies including Starbucks and Apple. Media reports indicate the E.U. is focusing on whether certain tax loopholes these countries have provided some corporations qualify as “state aid,” which is prohibited under E.U. bylaws.

Countries do not face fines or legal action if any tax breaks are found to be in violation of E.U. rules, but they could be required to rescind the breaks and make the companies in question pay the additional tax.

Apple has avoided paying billions of dollars in taxes by operating a variety of subsidiaries in the E.U., and Starbucks pays a low corporate tax as a result of moving its European headquarters to the U.K. In a statement, Apple said it has not received any special treatment from Irish authorities in how it conducts business and pays taxes there.

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