OPERATIONS

Matias selected as Ohio ICSC state director

BY CSA STAFF

Columbus, Ohio Equity announced that senior VP retail services Robert Matias has been selected to serve as director for the Ohio State Chapter of the International Council of Shopping Centers.

This is Matias’ third term as director.

As state director, Matias will chair the State Leadership Committee and is responsible for the planning and execution of the Ohio/West Virginia Idea Exchange conference.

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CVS offers personalized gift cards

BY CSA STAFF

WOONSOCKET, R.I. CVS/pharmacy announced the availability of interactive, customizable online gift cards that can be created and purchased at www.cvs.com/giftcards. The personalized gift cards are sent to recipients via e-mail and may be redeemed at any of the more than 6,900 CVS/pharmacy and Longs Drugs locations nationwide.

Upon receiving a virtual gift card, recipients simply print out their customized email and bring them to their local CVS/pharmacy or Longs Drugs location. Shoppers can get a head start and set up virtual gift cards in advance, to be delivered to family and friends on upcoming birthdays, holidays and special occasions. Virtual gift cards can be used toward purchases on everything from health and beauty essentials, seasonal goods, snacks, personal care items, photo products and services, as well as prescriptions.

“We are always looking for products and services that will enhance our customers’ experience with CVS/pharmacy,” said Mike Bloom, SVP merchandising for CVS/pharmacy. “Our new virtual gift cards are an ideal choice for shoppers who want to add a personal touch to a popular gift option. We are pleased to offer this new feature on CVS.com to make gift giving even more convenient.”

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Duplication of effort continues

BY CSA STAFF

The National Retail Federation (NRF) and the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) won’t be merging after all, the organizations announced in a joint statement.

“Following a deliberative process, RILA and NRF have ended discussions aimed at merging the two organizations,” the boards of the respective groups said. “NRF and RILA will devote all resources to continuing the work they are each doing to address the serious issues that America’s consumers and retailers are facing in today’s economic environment.”

 

No additional explanation was offered as to why the merger that was announced two months between the two Washington D.C.-based group fell through, however an open letter distributed by NRF president and CEO Tracy Mullin indicated the deal is dead.

 

“This week, after a long and deliberate process, the boards of directors of both groups have decided to end merger discussions. There is no plan for the two groups to merge at this time — or for the foreseeable future.

 

RILA president Sandy Kennedy, who was to serve as interim head of the combined group, did not offer a statement. As a result of the merger, Mullin had intended to retired after a new head of the combined organization was hired, but she has put those plans on hold. “I will continue to serve at the pleasure of NRF’s board of directors and, while I do dream of the beach, I can honestly think of nowhere else I’d rather be than in our offices in Washington,” Mullin said.

More effective representation in Washington was billed as one of the benefits of the merger when it was announced, prematurely as it turns out, in late April by chairmen of the NRF and RILA boards.

“This is an historic time for our industry. The challenges and opportunities before our members are unprecedented. Now is the right time to bring these associations together,” RILA chairman, Robert Niblock, chairman and CEO of Lowe’s and NRF chairman Mike Ullman, chairman and CEO of JCPenney said in a joint statement.

At the time, the move was heralded as overdue by RetailingToday.com which opined that, “the combination has made sense for the better part of the past decade given the high degree of overlap in the groups’ missions combined with a declining pool of potential members that has resulted from retailer and supplier consolidation.”

That remains even more the case two months later as challenging economic conditions have NRF and RILA members evaluating every expense, including membership in trade groups, travel and participation in conferences.

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