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Fresh & Easy gets green

BY CSA STAFF

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — Just in time for Earth Day, Fresh & Easy has introduced its private-label household cleaning and paper products.

The retailer’s Green Things line, which now is available in stores, features household cleaners that are made with plant-based formulas, are biodegradable and pH-neutral and also are made without such chemicals as 1,4-dioxane, phosphates, dyes or perfumes.

Green Things also includes paper products that are made from 100% recycled paper (with a minimum of 80% post-consumer content) and are packaged in a plastic film that degrades in just 18 months.

"We set out to develop Green Things as an affordable range of environmentally-friendly household cleaner and paper products that are sure to get the job done right," said John Burry, Fresh & Easy’s chief commercial officer. "Like all Fresh & Easy products, our customers know Green Things is a range of quality products they can trust."

Fresh & Easy Green Things household cleaners lineup includes:

  • Ultra dish liquid (grapefruit and pear) in a 25 fl.-oz. size for $1.99;

  • All purpose cleaner, 22 fl.-oz. size for $2.49;

  • Window and glass cleaner, 22 fl.-oz. size for $2.49;

  • Toilet bowl cleaner, 24 fl.-oz. size for $2.49;

  • Automatic dish gel, 40 fl.-oz. size for $3.49; and

  • Laundry detergent (lavender and lemongrass), 100 fl.-oz. size for $8.99.

  • Fresh & Easy Green Things paper products now available in stores include:

  • Bath tissue, 4-roll count for $2.79;

  • Bath tissue, 12-roll count for $6.99;

  • Paper towels, single roll for $1.79;

  • Paper towels 6-roll count for $4.99;

  • Napkins, 200 count for $1.59; and

  • Facial tissue cube, 85 count, $1.29.

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OfficeMax taps Walmart exec for new role

BY CSA STAFF

NAPERVILLE, Ill. — Former Walmart merchandising and store operations executive Michael Lewis was named EVP and president of retail at OfficeMax. Lewis will report to OfficeMax president and CEO Ravi Saligram and have responsibility for all aspects of the company’s retail business including merchandising, store operations and real estate.

“Michael brings a dynamic blend of leadership, retail expertise and disciplined execution to OfficeMax,” Saligram said. “His operational know-how and superb track record of driving profitable growth in tough retail environments will enhance the customer experience and improve store productivity. Michael will be an integral part of our efforts to differentiate the OfficeMax brand through innovation and unique customer insights.”

Lewis will join OfficeMax effective May 2 after spending the past seven years at Walmart. Most recently, he was a senior VP in Walmart’s merchandising organization where he led the global merchandising center for packaged grocery products that was created in early 2010 as part of a broader restructuring at Walmart. Prior to that role, Lewis served in an operations capacity for five years and oversaw Walmart’s Midwest division, which consisted of more than 850 stores. Prior to Walmart, Lewis spent two years with food wholesaler Nash Finch where he served as president of the retail division.

“The opportunity to be a part of the OfficeMax leadership team and continue to help build a customer-driven retail environment is very exciting,” Lewis said. “OfficeMax is a leader in product and design innovation, and I look forward to working with the team to capitalize on those strengths and establish a retail organization that drives profitable, sustainable growth.”

Lewis joins OfficeMax as the company is enjoying a modest rebound after several years of coping with a challenging business climate and executing a turnaround strategy. The company ended last year with total sales of $7.1 billion, about half of which was generated by a 997 store retail division that consists of 918 units in the United States and 79 units in Mexico.

OfficeMax investors may hear more about, or possibly from, Lewis next week as the company is scheduled to report results for its first quarter ended March 26 on April 28.

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Everything you could ever want to know about Walmart

BY CSA STAFF

Walmart remains in full blown communications mode, and next week it rolls out the big gun when president and CEO Mike Duke is scheduled to participate in the Barclays Capital 2011 Retail and Restaurants Conference at 1 p.m. EST on Tuesday, April 26.

Duke’s appearance comes just a few days before the end of the first quarter, so don’t count on gleaning any insights into Walmart’s current performance from his comments. Walmart doesn’t do guidance updates, and with first quarter results scheduled for release just a few weeks later on May 17 it isn’t likely to start now.

Instead, investors able to attend the live event or those listening via webcast are likely to get a heavy dose of broad brush strokes about an ongoing commitment to growth, leverage and returns, a renewed emphasis on EDLP and U.S. same-store sales and the state of the consumer. However, Walmart knows investors who participate in such conferences expect more than what they could get from reading the companies annual report, so here’s hoping he sheds some light on the timing of the opening of the first Walmart Express stores or the significance of this week’s acquisition of the social media company Kosmix.

Duke’s participation in the event rounds out a busy spring season of appearances at investors events and other conferences by Walmart’s top executives. March was a particularly busy month, with Walmart international president and CEO Doug McMillon hosting an investor conference in Shenzhen, China, that followed Walmart U.S. president and CEO Bill Simon’s participation at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Consumer Conference on March 10 and Sam’s Club president and CEO Brian Cornell’s appearance at the Raymond James Institutional Investor conference on March 8.

In addition to those events, other company officers have been hitting the road as well, making it seem at times as if Walmart executives are accepting most of the speaking requests that come their way. This week three Sam’s executives, Jill Turner Mitchael, SVP health and wellness; Catherine Corley, VP member program development and Marty Hogan, senior director of marketing, spoke at a Doing Business in Bentonville Event. Last week, Pete LaFond, Walmart marketing director of online media and Smart Network was on the program at the Shopper Marketing Summit in Chicago April 12 to 14, and the week before that Walmart EVP global ecommerce Raul Vasquez was on the program at the University of Arizona Global Retailing Conference held April 7 to 8, in Tucson, Ariz. Back on March 17, Walmart SVP transportation, Chris Sultemeier, and senior director of trade strategy Angela Hoffman were on the program for a one day seminar put on by the Supply Chain Management Research Center at the Sam M. Walton College of Business.

Up next is Walmart U.S. central president Mike Moore, who will be speaking at an event on April 28 hosted by the Bentonville Bella Vista Chamber of Commerce. After that, on May 12, Walmart SVP marketing Tony Rogers is scheduled to speak at an event called SHOP that is hosted by the Center for Retailing Excellence at the University of Arkansas Sam M. Walton College of Business. Rogers is scheduled to speak again May 18 at a Doing Business in Bentonville event. He is followed by Dr. John Agwunobi, president of Walmart’s health and wellness division, who is schedule to speak May 26 at a Bentonville Bella Vista chamber event.

That brings Walmart up to its June 3 shareholders meeting and additional meetings with the media and financial community.

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