OPERATIONS

Kronos: Retail hiring slows for second consecutive month

BY Staff Writer

Chelmsford, Mass. — The Kronos Retail Labor Index edged down one-tenth to 4.2% in July, reflecting declines in both hires and applications. (The index is defined as the ratio of hires to applications within a given month, expressed as a percentage. A level of 3.0 means that for every 100 applications received, three hires occurred.)

The retailers representing 18,362 distributed locations across the U.S. that make up the Kronos data sample made 29,835 hires (seasonally adjusted) in July 2012, the lowest reading since January 2011 and the second consecutive monthly decline.

In other findings, the number of applications received by retailers included in the Kronos sample fell 7.6% to 715,549 in July 2012 from a level in June that was revised slightly lower, all on a seasonally adjusted basis. Applications have fallen in six of the last seven months. In addition, the level in July was nearly 230,000 below its level one year ago and the second lowest level since the series began in September 2006.

"The Kronos Retail Labor Index edged down one-tenth to 4.2% in July, reflecting declines in both hires and applications. Following a strong start to the year, the recovery in hiring has slowed in recent months. A recent deceleration in overall consumer spending has likely encouraged more caution in hiring at retail,” said Chris Varvares, senior managing director and co-founder, Macroeconomic Advisers, which prepares the analysis and write-up for the monthly Kronos labor report.

Varvares added that until business conditions for retail firms begin strengthening again, which his firm expects later this year, he does not expect to see a marked pick-up in monthly hiring.

“In addition, we believe hiring has been restrained, in part, due to an elevated retention rate at retail firms in the Kronos sample, which indicates less job turnover and therefore reduced need for new hires,” he said.

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OPERATIONS

Tuesday Morning CEO files discrimination claim that breast cancer diagnosis figured in her ouster

BY Marianne Wilson

Dallas — Kathleen Mason, former president and CEO of Tuesday Morning Corp., has filed disability discrimination charges against the retailer, alleging she was removed after disclosing to the board that she was battling breast cancer.

"The board’s attitude toward Kathleen changed after it learned of her breast cancer diagnosis and treatment,’ said attorney Roger Dunn, of Clouse Dunn Dunn LLP, Dallas, who is representing Mason, in a statement on Friday.

In the filing, Mason claims she was removed from her leadership role in June after disclosing to the Tuesday Morning board that she was battling breast cancer. Prior to her firing, Mason led the company to 12 consecutive years of profitability before her firing, according to a statement released by Dunn.

"Current quarterly estimates were down at the company, but this is a woman who had proven to be a more-than-effective leader and prepared the company to weather the current economic downturn," he said.

Dunn said that Tuesday Morning had been profitable every year Mason led the company, and that the company has no long-term debt. During her tenure, private equity investors led by Madison Dearborn saw an initial investment of approximately $117 million grow in value to more than $700 million, according to Dunn.

"Given her record, this is someone any company would want leading them through these challenging times. But instead, the board’s attitude toward Kathleen changed after it learned of her breast cancer diagnosis and treatment," he said. "But those who know Kathleen know that she would never allow her health to become a corporate liability."

The severance package offered to Mason emphasized medical benefits and included a 10-year consultancy clause, after which an 18-month non-compete clause would begin, in effect locking her out of working elsewhere for nearly 12 years.

"The board made it clear she was not being fired ‘for cause’ and the company wanted to retain her expertise for another 11½ years. One has to question why she was removed from her job," said Dunn.

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Walgreens-Alliance Boots deal sealed; senior leaders join respective boards

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Deerfield, Ill. — Walgreens and Alliance Boots on Thursday announced the completion of Walgreens initial investment in the strategic partnership following receipt of all required regulatory approvals.

The Walgreens investment consists of approximately $4 billion in cash and 83.4 million shares of Walgreens common stock in exchange for a 45% equity stake in Alliance Boots. Walgreens has the option to proceed to a full combination in approximately three years’ time by acquiring the remaining 55% of Alliance Boots.

As a result of the transaction, Alliance Santé Participations S.A., of which Alliance Boots executive chairman Stefano Pessina is a director and whose ultimate ownership is a family trust, becomes the largest shareholder of Walgreens, with a stake it intends to hold for the long term.

In line with this, Pessina and Dominic Murphy, member of the general partner of KKR & Co., have joined the Walgreens board. At the same time, Walgreens’ president and CEO Greg Wasson; Wade Miquelon, executive VP and CFO; Thomas Sabatino, executive VP and general counsel; and Robert Zimmerman, senior VP and chief strategy officer, have become members of the Alliance Boots board.

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