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NRF warns of ‘regulatory train wreck’ with healthcare regulations

BY Staff Writer

Washington, D.C. — The National Retail Federation told a congressional panel Wednesday that the Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and Treasury have used too much informal guidance and not enough formal rulemaking in developing regulations to implement the new healthcare reform law, complicating retailers’ and other employers’ ability to plan for what will be required in 2014. NRF is concerned that the situation is the latest example of regulatory uncertainty that is hampering businesses’ attempts to expand and create jobs.



“Our nation cannot afford for the ACA to stumble out of the starting gate,” NRF VP and employee benefits policy counsel Neil Trautwein said. “A cascade of last-minute regulations will create confusion and thus could encourage more employers to back out of coverage. We are trying to help prevent what threatens to become a regulatory train wreck.”


Trautwein is scheduled to testify at a hearing Wednesday afternoon by the House Ways and Means Committee’s Health Subcommittee on implementation of healthcare exchanges and other provisions that will be required under the Affordable Care Act beginning in January 2014.


Trautwein said retailers typically plan health care benefits for their employees six to nine months in advance, meaning that details of the 2014 requirements need to be known no later than the end of first quarter 2013. Retailers would like to have regulations in place this year, and are “greatly concerned” that “fast-approaching deadlines for key issues” might not be met.

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Holiday hiring indicator suggests Merry Christmas

BY CSA STAFF

Retailers plan to hire an increased number of temporary workers this holiday season, according to a survey by the global consulting firm Hay Group.

"Retailers are betting that 2012 is going to be a great holiday season," said Craig Rowley, vp and global practice leader for Hay Group’s retail practice. "After four years of economic turbulence, they have figured out how to operate in an uncertain business environment and are calm and cool, knowing that they are ready, as they head into the holidays."

According to the firm, 75% of the retailers who participated in a holiday survey said their sales would be higher this year than last and 57% said they would keep staffing levels consistent with the prior year while 36% plan to increase hiring.

Hay Group’s survey, now in its sixth year, included only 14 retailers and none of the publicly identified participants – Ann Inc., Hot Topic, Chico’s, and David’s Bridal – are major operators. However, despite the limited sample size, the findings may be directionally relevant and offer insight to retailers holiday expectations. Of course, as company’s look to do more with less it is also conceivable that even retailers whose internal forecasts call for sales increases will look to hold the line on labor budgets.

Among other findings from the survey:

►Retailers look to increase permanent workers. Retailers are also increasing their focus on permanent employees. Forty-three percent say they will have more permanent workers and fewer seasonal workers this year. With renewed confidence and a bullish outlook for 2013, retailers want to retain more workers beyond the holiday season.

►The job applicant pool remains competitive, but stable. Despite continued challenges in the job market, 75% of retailers said the quantity of seasonal applicants is about the same as 2011. When it comes to quality, 62% said the average experience level of seasonal workers is between 0-1 years, and 38 percent say it’s between 2-4 years. As stores still have plenty of access to talent, seasonal workers can expect similar pay rates this year. Nearly all retailers (92%) say their hire rates are about the same as in 2011.

"All things considered, retailers are on the ‘nice list’ this year," said Maryam Morse, national reward practice leader of Hay Group’s retail practice. "One of the lessons learned during the downturn was that stores need to be able to respond more quickly to shifting market conditions and consumer preferences. Now, inventory is better managed, the supply chain is more effective and retailers have a clear plan for promotions to move the merchandise. With sales improving, retailers are placing more emphasis on retaining and rewarding employees and identifying career paths for top talent."

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City Sports names Albertian CEO

BY CSA STAFF

Boston-based City Sports names Edward Albertian as president and CEO

The 21 store chain said Albertian had joined the company after serving the prior seven years as president and CEO of Trans National Group.

"I’m delighted to join the strong management team and dedicated employees of City Sports as we continue to bring the best in specialty athletic retail to consumers everywhere, said Albertian. "I look forward to enhancing all areas of our business, from merchandising and marketing to store operations, human resources and distribution as we continue to expand and enter new markets."

Prior to Trans National, Albertian was president and COO of C&S Wholesale Grocers, the largest wholesale grocery supply company in the country. Prior to that role he spent five years as COO of the Star Markets Company Inc. and he also served as SVP of retail operations at Staples.

"Ed Albertian is a proven retail veteran with an impressively stellar track record, and we are thrilled to add such a dynamic and success-oriented leader to the City Sports team," said Tom Stemberg, Managing General Partner of Highland Consumer Fund and former CEO and founder of Staples.

The addition of Albertian caps off a record growth year for City Sports, which launched four new retail locations in the past 12 months including stores in Burlington, Vt. and Wellesley, Mass.

Albertian’s appointment follows the departure of City Sports’ previous president and CEO Jeff Connor, who resigned last month.

City Sports operates 21 metropolitan stores across the East Coast, with locations in Boston, Providence, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Burlington, Vt.

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