OPERATIONS

J.C. Penney puts retail veteran in charge of new center core strategy

BY Marianne Wilson

Plano, Texas — J.C. Penney Co. has named Laurie Beja Miller as executive VP The Square, a position in which she will lead the company’s efforts to execute its new center core strategy. The appointment follows J.C. Penney’s previously plans to transform its stores by adding some 100 in-store branded shops and converting the center of its stores to a “Town Square” area that offer various services.

Miller, 54, brings more than two decades of experience at leading retailers and iconic brands, including Nike, Apple and Disney, to J.C. Penney.

She will join the chain on April 1, and report to J.C. Penney president and CEO Ron Johnson.

“In the golden age of department stores, America’s families came for more than just to shop,” Johnson said in a statement. They were able to have fun experiences and were offered a range of useful services. We are going to revive that excitement and convenience at J.C. Penney, and Laurie is the ideal person to lead the charge. She brings an exceptional track record of creating differentiated shopping environments, unique insight into customer behavior, and a passion about retail that will all be invaluable as we execute our concept for J.C. Penney’s stores.”

Miller most recently served as senior VP and general manager Americas at Bare Escentuals, which she joined in 2010. Prior to that, she spent three years at Nike as general manager, VP Nike Retail U.S. Her resume also includes serving as VP special projects at Apple, senior VP and general merchandise manager at Pottery Barn, and executive VP at Disney Stores, focused on product development.

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REAL ESTATE

Sears Canada to close three stores in major cities

BY Marianne Wilson

Toronto — Sears Canada Inc. said on Friday it is shutting down three downtown stores in Vancouver, Calgary and Ottawa. The move follows an announcement last month by Sears Holdings, the majority owner of Sears Canada, that it will raise about $770 million by spinning off parts of its business and selling prime real estate.

“While we had no plans to close stores, the transaction for these three specific locations provides an attractive financial benefit for the company which strategically allows us to drive growth in areas which can be most beneficial,” said Calvin McDonald, president and CEO, Sears Canada Inc. We are investing in a refresh of our stores and piloting new formats which will provide Canadians exciting ways to access Sears products and services.”

Sears Canada plans to close locations at the Vancouver Pacific Centre, the Calgary Chinook Centre and the Ottawa Rideau Centre by Oct. 31, 2012. It will return the locations to developer Cadillac Fairview Corp Ltd for C$170 million. The transaction is expected to close on or around April 20.

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FINANCE

Big Lot Q4 profit rises; opening 90 stores in 2012

BY Marianne Wilson

Columbus, Ohio — Big Lots’ fourth-quarter net income rose 4% to $114.7 million for the period ended Jan. 28, up from $110.1 million a year earlier. The chain also said it anticipates 90 new store openings in the United States in 2012.

Big Lots’ revenue in the quarter rose 10% to $1.67 billion, from $1.52 billion.

Sales for U.S. operations increased 7.5% to $1.63 billion. In Canada, which includes results from Liquidation World that was acquired in July, sales were $36.6 million. Same-store sales in the United States were up 3.4%.

For the year, Big Lots earned $207.1 million, compared with $222.5 million in the previous year.

Annual revenue rose 5% to $5.2 billion, from $4.95 billion.

Big Lots operated 1,451 stores in 48 states and 82 Liquidation World and LW stores in Canada as of Jan. 28.

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