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Once again, Toys ‘R’ Us turns to Target talent

BY CSA STAFF

WAYNE, N.J. —Earlier this month, Toys “R’ Us announced the appointment of Robert Giampietro as senior vp of trend and innovation for its U.S. stores. Giampetro, a 23-year veteran of Target, will be responsible for identifying trends, developing new concepts and maximizing the value of the Toys “R” Us brand in this newly created position, the company said. Giampetro’s appointment is yet another sign that the toy retailer is ready to reclaim its glory days as the top toy retailer.

“We are focused on reinforcing our leadership position in the toys and babies markets,” said chairman and ceo Gerald Storch, in an exclusive interview with Retailing Today in February. “We are the toy authority, and those are not just empty words.”

Giampietro will reunite with Storch, who served as vice chairman of Target until he joined Toys “R” Us in February 2006. Giampietro spent 23 years at Target before retiring in 2005 as vp of strategic alliance and new business development.

Since Storch’s arrival at Toys “R” Us, the company has been focused on reorienting its culture, and hiring its top management away from top retailers such as The Home Depot, Limited Brands, and the former Marshall Field’s, to name a few. This roster of fresh faces, the newest of which is Giampietro, has come to TRU with the mentality that the toy business is theirs for the taking.

“Beyond change for its own sake, we’ve brought in true experts in their fields,” Storch said. “The president of the U.S. toy business (Giampietro’s new boss) is the former head merchant at Best Buy. Our head of stores is Troy Rice, who comes to us as the [former] head of stores at Home Depot. …Each of these people is an expert in their field.”

Giampietro’s new position should play an especially important role in Toys “R” Us’ strategy going forward. A big focus for the toy retailer lately has been in bringing in exclusive products and, in general, selling the trendiest toys is important to success in the industry going forward, toy analysts say.

“[Merchandising] shelves with the hottest and most popular toys is crucial in creating the impulse to buy and bringing back repeat customers,” said Chris Byrne, an industry analyst. “Bringing in someone from Target, who is known for their clever marketing and trendiness, is a good move [for Toys ‘R’ Us].”

Even before Giampietro’s appointment, Toys “R” Us had already shown evidence of stocking on-trend, hot-selling toys. In addition to selling exclusive product, the company made extra strides to keep in stock best-selling items like the T.M.X. Elmo and Nintendo Wii. Year-end and fourth-quarter results, which were released at the end of April, were also promising.

The company reported net sales for the period ended Feb. 3 topping out at $13.1 billion, buoyed by more than $1.6 billion from the consolidation of Toys-Japan. (Excluding the consolidation, sales for the year rose roughly 0.5%). Perhaps the brightest note is its 0.6% comps increase for Toys “R” Us’ U.S. division (where Giampietro will be lending his trend expertise), marking the division’s first comps increase in six years.

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FINANCE

Shareholders Approve Name Change to Macy’s

BY CSA STAFF

Cincinnati, Federated Department Stores said Friday that its shareholders approved its corporate name change to Macy’s Inc., effective June 1, 2007.

On that date, the company’s shares will begin trading under the New York Stock Exchange ticker symbol M, which Federated proposed in late March. Federated has traded on the NYSE under the ticker symbol FD since 1992.

“Today represents a milestone in the history of our company,” Terry Lundgren, Federated’s chairman, president and CEO, said in a statement. “By changing our corporate name to Macy’s Inc., we are demonstrating that we are a consumer-driven company focused on growing the Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s brands. In particular, this move will increase awareness of Macy’s, which represents about 90% of the revenue of our corporation.”

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FINANCE

Nordstrom 1Q Profit Rises 19%

BY CSA STAFF

Seattle, Nordstrom Inc. said Thursday its first-quarter profit rose 19%, helped in part by a change in the fiscal calendar that meant the quarter started and ended one week later than in 2006.

For the quarter ended May 5, earnings climbed to $156.8 million from $131.2 million during last year’s first quarter.

Revenue rose 9% to $1.95 billion from $1.79 billion in the year-ago quarter. Comp-store sales grew 9.5%, bolstered by interest in spring merchandise and ahead of Nordstrom’s internal expectations for the quarter, the company said.

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