OPERATIONS

Lowe’s Appoints Chief Risk Officer

BY CSA STAFF

Mooresville, N.C. Lowe’s Cos. said Tuesday that Marshall Croom will become senior VP and chief risk officer, effective Jan. 31. He will report to the company’s chairman and CEO, Robert Niblock.

Croom will oversee and manage all material risks chainwide, including enterprise risk management, workers compensation, loss prevention, safety, internal audit, quality assurance and global-trade services.

Previously, Croom served as senior VP of merchandising and store support for the chain.

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iPhone coming to Target?

BY CSA STAFF

The increasing tendency on the part of Apple to sell its products through mass market retailers suggests that its popular iPhone could eventually be available at Target stores.

The iPhone was initially sold at Best Buy, and then last week distribution was extended to Walmart, where a major launch involved the use of special in-store fixtures and prominent positioning in advertising including the front cover of the retailer’s most recent circular.

From Apple’s standpoint, the move increases consumer access to the popular product, whereas for Walmart, the iPhone brings added brand cache to an electronics department that has undergone a significant makeover the past few years. Apparently, the brand halo of Apple was worth a considerable amount to Walmart as the company agreed to sell the iPhone for only $2 less than the price at which it is offered in Apple’s stores. However, as a company keen on protecting the image and equity of its brand, an Apple distribution agreement with Target would appear to have made more sense since the brand identities of Target and Apple are more closely aligned, even if the short-term sales potential with Walmart is greater.

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Prediction: Target sells credit

BY CSA STAFF

A deteriorating credit environment could make it more likely that Target will sell the remainder of its credit card receivables, according to Citigroup investment analyst Deb Weinswig. That possibility and nine others were listed in a report highlighting 2009 predictions. According to Weinswig, the weak performance of the credit segment in 2008 and continued headwinds in 2009 may lead Target to sell its remaining receivables, possible at fire-sale prices. JP Morgan Chase would be a likely buyer in our view given its significant current investment in the portfolio as well as its strong consumer credit business.

On May 19, 2008, Target sold a 47% undivided interest in its credit receivables to JP Morgan Chase for an initial investment of $3.6 billion.

As for some of Weinswig’s other notable predictions, look for falling membership income at warehouse clubs, increased private brand penetration at Walmart and deteriorating drug store profitability due to prescription drug pressures.

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