OPERATIONS

GNC names Loblaw vet as executive VP business development

BY Dan Berthiaume

Pittsburgh — GNC Holdings Inc. has named Carmine Fortino as executive VP business development. He most recently served as president of North American operations for Atrium Innovations Inc., a Canadian natural health products company. Fortino also previously held various management roles within Loblaw Companies Limited, including executive VP of Ontario operations, as well as executive positions with Zehrmart Limited, a grocery chain owned by Loblaw.

"Carmine is a great addition to the GNC senior management team,” said Joseph Fortunato, GNC’s chairman, president & CEO. His background in multi-channel development across the health & wellness segment will enhance our approach to new market opportunities as we continue to implement GNC’s proven growth strategy."

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FINANCE

Saks acquisition spurs investigations

BY Dan Berthiaume

New York – The proposed acquisition of Saks by Hudson’s Bay Company is spurring investigations by at least three law firms. Law firms Harwood Feffer LLP, Robbins Arroyo LLP and Kahn, Swick and Foti LLP are all investigating concerns such as whether the Saks board of directors is fulfilling its fiduciary duties, maximizing the value of the company, disclosing all material benefits and costs, and obtaining full and fair consideration for shareholders.

Under an agreement announced July 29, Hudson’s Bay, which operates Lord & Taylor in the United States and Hudson Bay in Canada, will purchase Saks for a total of about $2.9 billion. Purchase price includes $16 per share of Saks as well as the assumption of Saks’ debt.

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FINANCE

Office Depot reports Q2 loss

BY Dan Berthiaume

Boca Raton, Fla. — Office Depot reported a net loss, as well as declining total sales and same-store sales, during a disappointing second quarter of fiscal 2013. The retailer’s net loss of $64 million was the same net loss it reported in the second quarter of fiscal 2012. Excluding pre-tax charges, including some relating to the planned OfficeMax merger, and non-cash store asset impairment charges, the net loss would have been $28 million.

Same-store sales dropped 4%, largely driven by decreased sales of technology and peripherals, particularly mid-priced laptops as the market continues shifting away from laptops and toward tablets. Total sales were $2.4 billion, down 4% compared to about $2.5 billion in the second quarter of 2012. Exits from some countries in the international division offset a small sales increase caused by a favorable shift in the timing of Easter.

“Our second quarter results came in largely as expected, as we remain focused on executing against our multi-year strategic plan,” said Neil Austrian, chairman and CEO of Office Depot. “Sales continue to be impacted by a sluggish technology category, particularly laptops, as well as ongoing budgetary pressure on our federal accounts. Despite these headwinds, however, we were pleased with our cost reduction actions and progress on our key initiatives. In addition, we remain actively engaged in integration planning related to the proposed merger with OfficeMax, which we continue to expect to close by the end of the year.

On July 10, 2013, shareholders of Office Depot and shareholders of OfficeMax approved the merger of the two companies, including the issuance of Office Depot common stock to OfficeMax stockholders pursuant to the merger agreement. The merger is not final until the receipt of certain regulatory approvals and completion of other customary closing conditions.

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