OPERATIONS

Panera Bread Co. announces move to co-CEOs

BY Marianne Wilson

St. Louis — Panera Bread Co. announced that founder and executive chairman, Ron Shaich, and president and CEO, Bill Moreton, will become co-CEOs, effective immediately.

The announcement formalizes a relationship that has evolved over the last year and is a reflection of the way in which Shaich and Moreton have been operating as partners, the company said.

Each individual’s formal title will be as follows: Ron Shaich, chairman of the board and co-CEO; Bill Moreton, president and co-CEO.

At the end of 2011, Panera Bread Co. operated 1,541 bakery-cafes under the Panera Bread, Saint Louis Bread Co., and Paradise Bakery & Café names.

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First Data issues report on gift card usage

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — The average gift card dollar volume growth on a year-over-year basis increased 10% during the last six months of 2011, with consumers shopping earlier in the holiday season for prepaid cards and adding more value to their purchases than in 2010, according to a study by First Data Corp.

“The state of the economy in the U.S. led to a significant increase in the average consumer’s usage of prepaid cards,” said Silvio Tavares, SVP and division manager of First Data Global Information and Analytics Solutions. “Consumers were more willing to reload gift cards in order to earn discounts and rewards in everyday spending categories of grocery, discount, and gasoline.”

The report shows that grocery, discount, and gasoline retailers aligned their prepaid strategy to respond to the painful reality of higher fuel prices on the every-day spending needs of families. According to industry reports, the typical U.S. household spent a record $4,155 on gasoline in 2011 — about $1,300 more than the 10-year average. By leveraging prepaid reloadable cards in new and existing fuel rewards programs, best-in-class retailers gained a greater share of consumer spending, more repeat visits, and improved customer loyalty.

The report, “2011 Year-End Prepaid Gift Card Market Analysis,” is one of a series of research analyses from First Data Advisors, the custom analytics and consulting unit of First Data Global Information and Analytics Solutions.

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Forever 21 teams with Accertify toward fraud prevention

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Chicago — Fraud prevention and risk management provider Accertify said Thursday that Forever 21 will deploy its fraud prevention solution, customized to the retailer’s e-commerce business.

Forever 21 said it is growing its online presence internationally and turned to Accertify, an American Express company, to process and decrease risk in Forever 21’s online transactions.

“With Accertify managing our fraud prevention program, we will be able to redeploy our resources to further enhance our customer’s online shopping experience, including customer service,” said Beth Jain, controller at Forever 21.

The Accertify platform is designed to integrate a complete e-commerce program, allowing merchants to process online transactions, minimize fraud risks, and manage payment disputes and measure outcomes.

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