OPERATIONS

Lowe’s announces store operations and merchandising reorganizations

BY Staff Writer

Mooresville, N.C. — Lowe’s Cos. is consolidating its store operations and merchandising organizations. The move is designed to improve efficiencies, increase speed to market for new products and services, and enhance the shopping experience for customers, the chain said.

Under the reorganization, Lowe’s U.S. store operations organization will now operate under three divisions: North, South and West. In addition, the divisional structure will be streamlined from 21 regions to 14 to ensure greater consistency and efficiency. Each division will be led by a senior VP operations, reporting to Rick D. Damron, executive VP store operations.

Lowe’s merchandising organization has been reorganized into two product divisions. Each division will be led by an senior VP/general merchandising manager (GMM), reporting to executive VP merchandising Robert J. Gfeller Jr.

“This new organizational structure reflects the company’s future direction to better serve customers whenever and however they wish to shop with us. These leaders are well positioned to take on new and challenging roles to help lead our company forward,” said Damron and Gfeller.

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OPERATIONS

Nordstrom to offer free shipping on all orders

BY Staff Writer

Seattle — Nordstrom announced it is now offering free standard shipping and returns from Nordstrom.com — every day, for online orders of every size. The company said it is broadening its online free shipping and returns policy to all customers in an effort to improve the online shopping experience.

Previously, Nordstrom offered free shipping for online purchases above $200 or through special promotional offers. The new policy applies to Nordstrom.com orders shipped within the United States regardless of the amount or size of the orders.

"Free shipping is reflective of how customers increasingly want to shop online and we hope this change makes it easier and more convenient to shop with us," said Jamie Nordstrom, president of Nordstrom Direct. “We look forward to adding more features and functionality as we continue to improve the online experience."

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OPERATIONS

Home centers among Irene’s retail winners, apparel stores lose out

BY Marianne Wilson

New York City — The impact of Hurricane Irene on retail sales is likely to split among category lines: Home-improvement stores selling emergency preparation products and clean-up items are likely to benefit the most from the storm, while apparel retailers and department stores selling non-essential items are likely to take a hit.

Industry analysts noted that big-box stores, drug stores and supermarkets all experienced sales surges prior to Irene’s arrival, but the biggest winners are likely to be home centers. In fact, pre-and-post storm sales may aid same-store sales at Home Depot and Lowe’s each by 1% point in the third quarter, said Stifel, Nicolaus & Co. analyst David Schick in a MarketWatch report.

However, many retailers in the Northeast saw sales drop as they were forced to close doors over the busy late-summer weekend. Apparel retailers and department stores — and back-to-school sales in general — were expected to be among the biggest losers. Irene may have reduced apparel retailers’ same- store sales by 0.5% or less for the month as consumers stayed home during the critical back-to-school shopping season, Jennifer Davis, an analyst at Lazard Capital Markets, noted in an e-mail, Bloomberg reported. Supermarkets, drug stores and big-box retailers likely benefited, she said.

The Home Depot shipped more than 1,000 truckloads of extra storm-related supplies, spokesman Stephen Holmes said in the Bloomberg report. Chainsaws, cleaning supplies and vacuums are now in demand as people shifted their focus from storm preparation to clean-up, Holmes said.
Similarly, Lowe’s Cos. shipped more than 1,000 extra truckloads of flashlights, batteries and generators to East Coast stores, Bloomberg reported.

As of 9 a.m. Monday, Wal-Mart said it had no reports of significant damage to any of its nearly 600 facilities located along the East Coast. At peak, there were 297 stores and clubs that were closed due to the hurricane. As the storm has moved north, it has reopened 259 of those stores and clubs.

Irene’s total damage, including uninsured losses, could range from $5 billion to $7 billion, he said. That stands in contrast to Hurricane Katrina, which reportedly cost more than $70 billion in insured losses alone.

Since Hurricane Katrina, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has begun studying ways to work with the private sector, including national retailers, during emergencies. For an interesting look at how The Home Depot and Wal-Mart prepared for the storm, go to npr.org/2011/08/26/139941596/big-box-stores-hurricane-prep-starts-early?ps=cprs

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