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Main & Wall Conference Fosters Entrepreneurial Spirit

BY Murray Forseter

Every December since 1990 Chain Store Age has celebrated the success of American enterprise by featuring the retail winners of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year (EOY) competition. This annual exercise spotlights men and women from public and private companies who have invested in their respective visions to create legacies of success. This year is no different. From Tom Campion, founder and chairman of Zumiez, who relishes the risks of entrepreneurship, to the quirky style of Tom Dickson, an inventor who stars in outrageously campy videos for Blendtec, this year’s crop of award recipients continues the tradition of eclecticism that has been the hallmark of the EOY program.

One of the most successful entrepreneurs of the last two decades is Tom Stemberg, founder of Staples. He is credited with creating the office-supply superstore concept when he launched Staples in 1986. Today, the company is global, with more than 1,960 stores, served by more than 74,000 employees. Sales will exceed $18 billion this year.

Like many entrepreneurs, Stemberg has not been content to restrict his talents and interests to just one endeavor. He was a venture investor in PetSmart and has served as a director since the opening of its second store. PetSmart is now a $4 billion enterprise. Stemberg also founded ZOOTS, one of the country’s leading dry-cleaning companies, as well as Olly Shoes, a leading children’s shoe retailer.

Today, Stemberg is a managing general partner of the Highland Consumer Fund. He focuses on retail and consumer-services companies, and sits on the boards of Blue Tulip, CarMax, Guitar Center, lululemon athletica, Pharmaca and The NASDAQ Stock Market.

Stemberg will be a featured speaker at the second annual Main & Wall conference, Feb. 11-13 at the Mayfair Hotel & Spa, Coconut Grove, Fla. Main & Wall is jointly produced by Chain Store Age and David N. Deutsch & Co.

A boutique conference for C-level executives of growth-minded middle-market companies, Main & Wall fosters one-on-one interaction among attendees on such timely topics as mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance, real estate and human capital strategies. Attendees also will hear from Randy Lewis, senior VP, distribution and logistics, Walgreens. Lewis will address the issue of social responsibility and superior results. He will chronicle how hiring disabled workers at its distribution centers boosted Walgreens’ performance and productivity.

In many ways, the entrepreneurs profiled in this issue lived through many of the seminars planned for Main & Wall 2008. For example, one session at Main & Wall will cover management succession and exit strategies. Brothers David and Stephen Sorbaro took over Mavis Discount Tire of Mount Kisco, N.Y., from their father, while James Gipson, chairman and CEO of Houchens Industries, became the first non-family member to lead the Kentucky-based supermarket retailer.

The “Managing for Growth” session at Main & Wall will analyze tactics, such as acquisitions, that a company may employ during an economic slowdown. Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com has used acquisitions, customer service and expansion into narrow segments, such as Running.Zappos.com, as drivers to push the $800 million company to surpass the billion-dollar level.

Main & Wall will be an educational forum growth-oriented companies cannot afford to miss. For more information, visit www.mainandwallconference.com.

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CompUSA may get a new look

BY CSA STAFF

ADDISON, Tx. After opening a new format store last month, CompUSA may be changing the format of its other stores, depending on customer demand and product interest.

According to reports, the elements found in the prototype store, located in Texas, will be incorporated into other CompUSA locations across the United States.

The nearly 7,700 square-ft. relocation site includes an Apple shop featuring Mac computers, iPods and Apple accessories, and a full-length LCD TV wall.

Additional expansions include extended gaming, which includes an entire wall devoted to the Nintendo Wii, PlayStation3 and Xbox 360 gaming platforms, plus a PC gaming setup to test equipment and play new titles.

While businesses can get their share of support with a specialized services section, all consumers can visit the store’s redesigned IT support area.

“This new store aligns CompUSA’s vision to better serve its three core customers, the technology enthusiast, educated professional and small and medium businesses,” said Gabriela Villalobos, the retailer’s sales and operations evp.

CompUSA announced in April that it would narrow its focus to three core customer groups rather than try to serve a mass audience.

The move was part of a comprehensive restructuring, initiated last February, that included an overhaul of senior management and the closure of half its store base as the privately held chain looked to improve sales and profitability.

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Walgreens withdraws from CVS provider plans

BY CSA STAFF

DEERFIELD, Ill. After many months of talks over low and below-market payment rates by CVS Caremark for four prescription plans, Walgreens has withdrawn as a pharmacy provider from the plans.

Patients affected include members of prescription benefit plans managed by CVS Caremark for ArcelorMittal, Johnson Controls, Progressive Casualty Insurance and Wisconsin Education Association Trust.

Most of the affected members live in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin.

Trent Taylor, president of Walgreens Health Services, the managed care division of Walgreens, released the following statement:

“This is not where we wanted negotiations to lead,” he said. “We’re sorry that our pharmacy patients and CVS Caremark’s clients are caught in the middle, and we’ll do all we can to ensure a smooth transition for our patients to another pharmacy. Meanwhile, we’ll continue to work on resolving this issue with CVS Caremark.

“Leaving a benefits plan is an extraordinary step for us, but it demonstrates how extraordinarily low our payments were from CVS Caremark. We can’t continue accepting reimbursement rates that are drastically below market, while offering patients needed special services such as 24-hour pharmacy access and drive-thru pharmacies.”

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