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Office Depot, OfficeMax shareholders OK merger

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Office Depot and OfficeMax Inc. on Tuesday moved one step closer to consolidation as their shareholders voted to approve the merger between the two office supply rivals.

“Our Office Depot shareholders today endorsed our collective efforts to create a combined company that will be a world-class provider of office products, services and solutions, with significantly improved financial strength and the ability to deliver better long-term operating performance,” said Neil Austrian, chairman and CEO of Office Depot, Boca Raton, Fla. “Our two companies remain optimistic that the closing will occur by the end of the calendar year 2013, subject to the receipt of regulatory approval and other customary closing conditions; and we continue to work cooperatively with the FTC as it conducts its review of the proposed combination.”

Ravi Saligram, president and CEO of OfficeMax, Naperville, Ill., commented: “This is an important and historic milestone in bringing our two great companies together. With integration planning now well underway, we believe more than ever that the combined company will create a stronger, more innovative and efficient global provider better able to compete in today’s rapidly changing office solutions industry, creating long-term value and opportunity for our customers, our stockholders and our employees.”

In late February, the two retailers said they planned to merge in a $1.2 billion all-stock deal that would help the No. 2 and No. 3 chains compete against industry leader Staples. They have yet to announce a headquarters location, leader and name for the proposed combined company.

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Divvy wins Target’s digital design challenge

BY CSA STAFF

A social shopping list app called Divvy was chosen from among more than 76 entrants who participated in innovative exercise in crowd-sourced digital development conducted by Target and Fast Company.

The Divvy app was created by a New York-based group that called itself Team Pilot and received a $75,000 prize for their effort. The Divvy app which is designed to improve the group shopping experience by allowing multiple users to update a shopping list in real time while making it easier to split the bill and distribute receipts.

Team Pilot participated in a contest created by Target and Fast Company called Co.Labs & Target Retail Accelerator. The idea was to foster digital innovation in retail by challenging developers to build a new mobile experience for Target. The contest ran from March through April. At that point, seven finalists were selected in May by a panel of industry experts including Target president of multichannel and SVP of enterprise strategy, Matt Mankins, CTO of FastCompany.com, Tom Preston-Werner, CEO of Github, Ruchi Sanghvi, VP of operations for Dropbox and Suhail Doshi, CEO of Mixpanel. The seven finalist teams received $10,000 to build their concepts into functioning prototypes and then in June presented to a panel of Target executives including Carl; Jeff Jones, Target EVP and CMO, Laysha Ward, president of Target community relations and Jason Goldberger, SVP of Target.com and Mobile.

“The Retail Accelerator set out to find fresh and innovative ideas for a new mobile experience for Target, and the developer community absolutely exceeded our expectations,” Carl said. “Selecting a winner wasn’t easy. But Team Pilot’s ability to make group shopping more convenient and seamless for guests made the project stand out above the others.”

According to Co.Labs editor Chris Dannen, “the quality of the entries was extremely competitive – many of these were fully spec’d, fully designed apps with proven technical teams behind them. Still, Divvy blew away the judges with clarity of concept and a highly polished look and feel.”

The Divvy app and the other six finalists were profiled in Fast Company’s Co.Labs vertical available here and Target also feature a Q&A with members of Team Pilot here.

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A&F’s back-to-school campaign to leverage mobile tech

BY CSA STAFF

NEW ALBANY — Abercrombie & Fitch Co. is taking its 2013 Stars on the Rise back-to-school campaign, featuring a group of up-and-coming actors, to the digital arena with a new mobile app that offers potential shoppers an interactive experience.

This year’s cast includes Jacob Artist (Glee), Emayatzy Corinealdi (Middle of Nowhere), Scott Eastwood (Texas Chainsaw 3-D), Johnny Ferro (Children of God), James Frecheville (Adore), Taylor Handley (Chasing Mavericks), Ashley Hinshaw (Chronicle), Alex Kaluzhsky (The Taking of Pelham 123), Alexander Ludwig (Vikings), Lily Rabe (American Horror Story) and Halston Sage (Grown Ups 2), as well as special canine stars Uggie (The Artist), Popeye (skateboarding American Bulldog), Julio (skateboarding English Bulldog) and Carrie ("The Dancing Dog").

"Identifying talent during the early stages of their careers has been something we have always been excited to be a part of," said chairman and CEO Mike Jeffries. "We enjoyed working with these 11 actors selected for this campaign and look forward to watching them flourish in their careers."

Images of the stars, photographed by Bruce Weber, will be featured online, in the A&F App and throughout A&F stores around the world. To mark the campaign’s launch, A&F will hold an event at its Los Angeles Grove location Thursday, July 11.

The actual back-to-school line debuts in stores and online Saturday, July 13, and will feature the jeans collection with a wider range of fits and washes. There is also a new online and in-store shopping tool designed to help consumers sort out the fit and wash that best suits them.

The smartphone app, available in the Apple App Store, features a "6 Degrees of Stars on the Rise," an interactive experience that lets users create a story connecting them with their favorite Star on the Rise by pulling in their Facebook data and creating a shareable story. The app also allows users to become a "Star on the Rise" by superimposing a picture of their face on the body of a Star on the Rise — an interesting move given the company’s recent negative press regarding body image issues as a result of comments Jeffries made several years ago.

A&F will also launch its Everyone Instantly Wins sweepstakes Friday, July 26. Customers who visit participating A&F locations Friday to Sunday until Sept. 1, plus Labor Day, and enter the sweepstakes, will win jeans or a promotional gift card.

"Stars on the Rise is a concept we frequently did in the early 2000s in our quarterly magazines. We are excited to bring back the concept with new technology that makes the campaign more fun, engaging and interactive," added Jeffries.

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