MARKETING/SOCIAL MEDIA

Obama recruits Gap, McDonald’s for training initiative

BY CSA STAFF

Washington, D.C. President Barack Obama announced an initiative on Tuesday linking companies including Gap and McDonald’s Corp. with community colleges for programs aimed at boosting the job skills of American workers. As part of the initiative, Gap will start a pilot program in seven cities, designed to offer community college students job- and career-building skills to help take advantage of potential job opportunities.

The partnership, called “Skills for America’s Future,” grew out of recommendations of the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board.  The goal of the program is to create at least one partnership between industry and community colleges in each state. Obama has said he wants to increase the number of community college degrees and certificates by 5 million in the next decade.

Glenn Murphy, chairman and CEO of Gap, announced its participation in the initiative on Tuesday.

“Our in-house training materials will be made available to all community college students and applicable to many industries,” Murphy said in a statement. He said Gap plans to hire as many as 1,200 students from community colleges in 2011, about 5% of its annual hiring.

The seven markets are in Las Vegas; Denver; Houston; Atlanta; Detroit; Philadelphia; and Washington, D.C. The effort includes in-store job training, interview and leadership training and scholarships. The program may be expanded to other markets and units of the company such as Old Navy, Banana Republic and Gap Outlet factory stores, Murphy’s statement said.

McDonald’s will expand its literacy program for managers and make its “virtual classroom” model available to community colleges.

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Borders names new merchandising VP

BY CSA STAFF

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Borders Group announced that it is welcoming back Kathryn Popoff as VP merchandising, overseeing the promotion and merchandising of adult trade and bargain books. An 18-year retail industry veteran, she joined Borders Group in 2002 as director of multimedia. She was named director merchandising for adult trade books in 2004, and was promoted in 2007 to VP merchandising, a post she held until Nov. 2009.

Larry Norton, who formerly served as SVP merchandising will transition into the role of SVP business development and publisher relations. Norton will now concentrate on long-term strategies to strengthen the book sector, including partnering with publishers and e-book provider Kobo to develop digital content with the overall goal of aggressively growing the company’s e-book business. He will also work with publishers on initiatives directly related to lowering costs and increasing efficiencies within the supply chain

Children’s merchandising director Renee Rockwood, a merchant with more than 16 years of experience, will now oversee gifts and stationery, children’s toys and games and the company’s expansion of adult games and puzzles. In addition, Rockwood will continue to manage the merchandising and promotion of the children’s category.

Borders also recently welcomed 27-year book industry veteran Mike Ferrari as merchandising director trade books. Prior to coming to Borders, Ferrari served in a variety of capacities at Barnes & Noble, including director digital content for Barnes & Noble.com, director merchandising, divisional merchandising director, senior buyer and buyer on the corporate side.

Joanna Goldstein will move into the role of VP non-book merchandising, having previously served as VP marketing. In her new position, she will oversee the digital device and accessory category as well as calendar, newsstand and multimedia. Goldstein brings several years of experience to her new role having previously directed the merchandising and promotion of many of these categories.

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Pfresh pause gives TGT time

BY CSA STAFF

Target doesn’t need to be in a hurry to return new stores construction to pre-recession levels now that it has the Pfresh remodel program to keep it occupied through 2012 and beyond. By year end, Target expects to have remodeled roughly 340 stores to the Pfresh format, which will give it a total of 450 Pfresh stores. Next year, another 400 remodels are on tap for the Pfresh conversion process, and with that pace expected to continue Target will need all of 2013, 2014 and much of 2015 to complete the chain-wide remodeling program.

By the time the effort is complete, the company’s product mix is going to look very different than it does today, as food and other consumable products grow to account for an increasingly larger percentage of sales. This phenomenon is already taking place. At the end of the most recent fiscal year, the category of food and pet supplies had grown to represent 16% of sales of $65.4 billion compared with 13% of sales of $63.4 billion two year earlier. A similar situation exists with the category Target defines as household essentials. Sales in that category stood at 23% last year compared with 21% two years earlier.

Both categories are expected to be up even more sharply by the time Target reports its full-year results next spring as results from the surge of Pfresh remodels completed this year are included in the results along with the effect of increasing promotional activity in food and consumable categories that has seen those categories regularly among the top performers at Target.

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