OPERATIONS

Indian retailer taps former Wal-Mart China execs

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Bangalore, India — According to multiple reports on Monday, India’s largest retailer has hired two former executives of Wal-Mart Stores’ China operations as its two top executives.

Reliance Industries Ltd., which operates 1,000 retail stores across India selling everything from produce to electronics, has named Rob Cissell as CEO of Reliance Retail Ltd. and has named Shawn Gray as COO.

Citing an unnamed source, the reports said that both executives are former Wal-Mart China leaders, Cissell the former COO and Gray the VP over store operations. Their appointments are said to be effective in September and, said the source, are part of plans Reliance has to set up wholesale stores akin to those that Wal-Mart runs in India.

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A favorable outlook for BTS

BY CSA STAFF

Shoppers face a lot of economic headwinds this back-to-school season, but one forecaster has seasonal sales growing by 6.2% to $467 billion, the most since 2006.

That’s according to retail consultants Customer Growth Partners’ annual BTS forecast, which defies warnings of a double-dip recession and sees American households as being more resilient with their back-to-school spending during the July through September time frame.

“Navigating nimbly through the minefields of inflation, employment and housing woes, the 91% of Americans with jobs are much savvier shoppers than before the recession – and they are shopping again,” said CGP president Craig Johnson. “But for the long-term jobless, the triple whammy of food, fuel and now clothing inflation will make this summer another bummer.”

CGP’s 6.2% growth forecast marks the sharpest back-to-school retail growth since similarly strong 6.2% growth in the housing bubble economy of 2006. The 6.2% BTS 2011 growth tops even 2010’s strong 5.5% rebound from 2009’s abysmal 3.8% BTS decline.

What’s behind the stronger than expected Back-to-School season? CGP’s study points to several key drivers behind the robust outlook including, continued growth in disposable personal income that is 3% above last year’s level, healthier household finances with lower debt levels and a modest degree of private sector job growth.

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Target makes another move in Canada

BY CSA STAFF

The first Target stores in Canada won’t open until 2013, but the company recently announced it retained MDC Partners to lead the development of its overall marketing efforts. According to the company, the MDC integrated team is being led by kbs+p Canada and Veritas Communications, along with support from Northstar Research Partners and BOOM! Marketing.

“Throughout the agency selection process MDC continuously inspired the Target team with their passion for our business and innovative ideas across all disciplines,” said Michael Francis, Target EVP and chief marketing officer, who is leading the retailer’s entry into Canada. “We look forward to partnering with MDC to bring the Target brand to life for our Canadian guests as we move toward our Canadian opening.”

Target said it chose MDC as its lead agency in Canada based on its depth of retail experience, integrated team of agencies across Canada, insights into Canadian consumers and reputation for collaboration. MDC is the largest digitally-driven, independent, Canadian-owned marketing communications network in the world.

“We feel privileged to be selected to help bring Target’s iconic brand to the Canadian market and credit our collaborative and integrated approach, along with our shared creative and strategic sensibilities, for the win,” said Miles Nadal, CEO of MDC Partners.

“We are very fortunate to be a part of Target’s first international expansion and look forward to helping them become retailer of choice.”

The selection of MDC is the latest revelation to come out of Canada. Target has already disclosed the locations of its first 105 stores and recently agreed to sell 39 of the 220 leases it acquired from Zellers to Walmart.

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