It may still be winter, but spring cleaning is already well under way at the nation’s retail chains. One of the biggest dust-ups occurred at The Home Depot, which parted ways with its CEO and chairman, Robert Nardelli, after a six-year tenure. The chief executive had been under fire for what some regarded as a too-hefty pay package in light of the chain’s stock performance. He was replaced by Home Depot vice chairman Frank Blake.
In another major shake-up, Paul Pressler resigned as chief executive of struggling Gap Inc. Bob Fisher, son of Gap founder Don Fisher, will serve as interim CEO until a permanent replacement is found. Pressler, who took over Gap in 2002, had been under mounting pressure in the wake of the chain’s continuing poor performance. His tenure included failed attempts to reenergize the Gap and Old Navy brands, and a high level of executive turnover. The most recent exits include Denise Johnson, president of Gap Adult, and Ivy Ross, executive VP of product design for Old Navy. (Jenny Ming, president of Old Navy, stepped down in October.)
Other recent executive moves:
Limited Brands’ Express division lost its co-presidents, Paul Raffin and Meade Rudasill, both of whom left to head up other companies. And Chuck Turlinski, president of Limited Stores, has left the company.
J.C. Penney terminated Catherine West, its COO, after just six months on the job.
Lawrence Jackson, president and CEO of global procurement for Wal-Mart Stores, resigned.
Build-A-Bear Workshop’s president and COO, Barry Erdos, resigned.
Joan Chow, chief marketing officer for Sears Holdings Corp.’s Sears Retail division, resigned. Sears Holdings also lost its CFO, Craig Monaghan, after five months on the job.
Donna Noce, president of AnnTaylor Stores’ LOFT division, left for personal reasons.
Wal-Mart to Focus on Expanding Seiyu
New York City, Wal-Mart Stores is open to acquisition opportunities in Japan, but the retailer is more focused on expanding business at its 53%-owned Seiyu chain, according to a report by Reuters. Shares of Seiyu jumped Monday after Wal-Mart vice chairman Michael Duke told the Nikkei business daily that the company might look for more acquisition opportunities in Japan.
The paper reported that Duke welcomed planned changes in corporate laws in May that will enable foreign companies to buy Japanese firms through share swaps.
Wal-Mart last year tried to invest in superstore operator Daiei Inc., aiming to boost its presence in the country, but it lost the chance to Aeon Co., Japan’s second-biggest retail group.
Wal-Mart entered the Japanese market in 2002 by taking a small stake in Seiyu. It has since invested more than $1 billion in the chain, but has yet to return the retailer to profitability.
Wal-Mart spokeswoman Amy Wyatt said Wal-Mart’s focus in Japan is on Seiyu.
“It’s a very sizable business today, so we still think that there are a lot of growth opportunities in the existing business,” she said.
In terms of acquisitions, she said: “I wouldn’t go as far as to say we’re shopping for them.”