OPERATIONS

Kroger on the hunt for a COO

BY Marianne Wilson

Cincinnati — Kroger now finds itself in need of a COO.

In an abrupt announcement, Kroger on Tuesday said president and COO Mike Ellis has retired after 40 years with the company. The grocer said a successor will be named at a later date.

"We're very grateful to Mike for his contributions over the past 40 years, and we wish him all the best in retirement," said Rodney McMullen, Kroger's chairman and CEO. "We have long taken a team approach to leadership and together our highly-experienced team of operators and merchandisers is focused on delivering on our aggressive growth goals."

Ellis joined Fred Meyer in 1975 as a parcel clerk at age 16, and went on to serve in a series of operations and merchandising leadership positions in stores, division management and as a corporate officer. He was VP of Fred Meyer's food group before joining Kroger as a senior officer in 2004. He returned to lead Fred Meyer as president in 2006.

He was promoted to senior VP retail divisions in 2012, leading five operating divisions, as well as Kroger's jewelry and convenience store businesses, and became president and COO on Jan. 1, 2014.

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A Moveable (and Personal) Feast

BY Dan Berthiaume

In his classic posthumous memoir “A Moveable Feat,” Ernest Hemingway describes 1920s Paris as an interconnected place where you could obtain any food, drink or entertainment you wanted at any time. While the days of glamorous expatriate writers tramping across Europe are long gone, retailers are increasingly trying to recreate the atmosphere of seamless access to whatever your heart desires, via mobile devices and apps. The following are just a few examples.

Kohl’s Goes for Greatness

Kohl’s “Greatness Agenda” is not named lightly. The strategy is designed to make the company America’s most engaging retailer by providing a convenient customer experience across all channels. Kohl’s is focusing on its mobile app as a key “Greatness” enabler. A big part of its mobile efforts encompasses the seamless aspect of the mobile customer experience.

“We know many families are starting their shopping experience with Kohl’s on their mobile devices,” said Krista Berry, executive VP and chief digital officer of Kohl’s. “We need to ensure we provide customers with a seamless experience that allows them mobile access to the same amazing product and incredible savings they know and love from Kohl’s.”

Relaunched in November 2014 as part of the new strategy, the enhanced app is built on three pillars: Kohl’s Yes2You Rewards Program; simplified savings; and convenient, connected experiences. This investment has resulted in increased conversion rates across all channels.

“We have a world-class savings wallet within the Kohl’s app that offers customers an easy shopping experience by allowing them to see their savings stack up in real time,” Berry added.

Customers can browse and shop by category, manage and redeem their rewards points, and scan their Kohl’s cash and savings offers to their mobile wallet for in-store checkout. By the end of summer, the retailer plans to launch an omnichannel shopping bag that customers can access across all devices, and plans to roll out buy-online, pick-up-in-store functionality to its mobile app this fall.

Shoppers Drug Mart, Bi-Lo Get Moving

Canadian drug store retailer Shoppers Drug Mart Corp. and Bi-Lo Holdings, parent company of the Bi-Lo, Harveys and Winn-Dixie grocery stores, are also providing personalized, seamless mobile experiences with features similar to Kohl’s.

Shoppers Drug Mart is providing members of its Shoppers Optimum loyalty program with My Optimum, My Rewards, a personalized digital loyalty experience. Members can receive personalized offers and points via their mobile device, and can load them to their digital or plastic Optimum card. They can also scan their digital Optimum card directly from their smartphone to earn and redeem points.

The digital Optimum card is available by downloading the redesigned Shoppers Drug Mart mobile app. The new platform delivers weekly load-to-card offers tailored to members’ shopping preferences.

Meanwhile, Bi-Lo has launched a new smartphone app for each banner that delivers personalized digital coupons based on individual shopping habits. The supermarket chain is partnering with digital coupon provider Coupons.com to deliver the personalized coupons.

Additional features of the new Bi-Lo mobile app include a virtual rewards card, shopping list with scan functionality so customers can add items using their smart-phone camera to scan product barcodes, GPS-enabled store location finders and a weekly circular specific to each store that can be sorted by category.

“Our customers’ shopping habits vary, so it’s important that we provide a grocery shopping experience that is personal,” said Bert DuMars, VP digital marketing at Bi-Lo Holdings. “The coupons on our new app are unique in that they are delivered to each customer based on his or her shopping behaviors and geographic interests and then prioritized so those that most closely match their preferences appear first.”

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OPERATIONS

Jo-Ann Fabric in exec hiring, promotion

BY Staff Writer

Hudson, Ohio — Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores announced a key hire in marketing, and a promotion in merchandising.

Jo-Ann has hired Amy Parker as senior VP, marketing & advertising. Most recently, Amy was the chief marketing officer for Pet Supplies Plus and prior, chief marketing officer for the home division at Sears Holdings.

Previously, she was with Michaels, Toys “R” Us, and several other multi-unit chains.

In other announcements, Megan Featherston, formerly senior VP, merchandising at Jo-Ann, has been promoted to executive VP, merchandising & marketing. In her new role, Megan will oversee the merchandising, marketing, Joann.com and business intelligence & analytics teams.

Prior to joining Jo-Ann in May, 2014, Featherston was the executive VP of merchandising for Haskell Jewels. Previously, she was president of the fine jewelry division of Sears Holdings and held leadership roles at Wilson Leather, Michaels, and Payless Shoe Source when it was a division of The May Company.

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