SUPPLY CHAIN

Picture Perfect

BY Marianne Wilson

When Portrait Corp. of America (PCA) decided to initiate a reimaging program for its PictureMe! photo centers in some 385 Wal-Mart stores nationwide, a paint job was one of the key components of the makeover. But the company didn’t want to source and contract separate painting contractors in every region or location, a time-consuming task that often results in varying levels of quality.

“We were unable to control the type of service and quality of work when hiring new companies each time,” said Mark Hughes, senior VP of PCA. (In June, Portrait Corp. of America was acquired by CPI Corp., St. Louis, bringing its studio count to 3,095 locations, primarily in Wal-Mart and Sears stores. The PictureMe! centers continue to operate under their own banner.)

With consistency as one of its main objectives, PCA hired a national painting contractor, CertaPro Painters Commercial Services, Oaks, Pa., to manage and direct the project across the country. PCA utilized CertaPro’s services during six phases of production, completing approximately two phases every two to four weeks, for a total of 385 locations.

Each phase involved intricate working procedures and a coordinated schedule for work in the portrait studio space. CertaPro created a uniform list of instructions that was distributed at each location specifying painting directions, with detailed notes informing contractors of standard procedures and regulations.

Constant communication between Wal-Mart store management, the portrait studio regional manager and studio associates was vital to the success of the project.

“We had a project-management team at CertaPro with one point of contact assigned to me, which made it very easy to manage to the project,” said Chad Brannan, project manager at PCA. “I was able to call my contact and discuss issues and get up-to-date information on the painting status. I was also sent updated spreadsheets every few days.”

Prior to beginning any work, each CertaPro painting contractor contacted PCA’s district manager to coordinate a schedule, and the Wal-Mart store manager upon arrival for work. As a standard procedure, the painters removed all objects on or near the walls, and covered all fixtures and furniture with dust barriers.

With one or two nights of work in each area, the contractors were given instructions regarding the removal and disposal of the existing wallpaper coverings as well as the wallpaper glue. Before starting the paint job, they patched the walls to create a flat surface.

For a fresh and consistent look at all locations, the patched walls were primed (with Sherwin-Williams Pro Mar 400 Latex Wall Primer) and then covered with a top coat (Sherwin-Williams Duration Home Satin Pro Mar 200 Latex in “Afterglow”). The painters used a “heavy nap” roller to create a textured finish, similar to that of an orange peel. They applied at least two coats of paint to achieve the right hue, along with a tinted primer and finish coat.

The homogenous design motif was applied at all locations. All fieldwork for the project was completed in less than five months, with one to two days of work at each location. As for the overall outcome, PCA was extremely pleased.

“We made numerous site inspections to completed locations and found the work to consistently be of high quality with accurately completed scope,” Hughes added. “The first job looked like the last job.”

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Sears Holdings ceo unhappy with 2Q

BY CSA STAFF

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. Sears Holdings today reported net income of $176 million, or $1.17 per diluted share, for the second quarter ended Aug. 4, compared with net income of $294 million, or $1.88 per diluted share, for the second quarter ended July 29, 2006. The company attributed the decline in its second quarter results from the same quarter last year to lower operating results at both Sears Domestic and Kmart, which were partially offset by improved operating results at Sears Canada.

“We are disappointed with our second quarter results. Our gross margins came under pressure from sales declines and increased promotional activity, and as a result, our net income was significantly below last year and our expectations,” said Aylwin Lewis, Sears Holdings’ ceo and president.

Sears Domestic’s comparable-store sales declined 4.3% for the quarter, while Kmart’s comparable-store sales declined 3.8%. Total domestic comparable-store sales declined 4.1%. The company reported lower sales across most merchandise categories at both Kmart and Sears Domestic, partially offset by increased sales of women’s apparel at both Kmart and Sears Domestic, as well as within consumer electronics and footwear at Sears Domestic. For the quarter, total revenues declined $0.6 billion to $12.2 billion in fiscal 2007, as compared to $12.8 billion for the second quarter of fiscal 2006.

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Lane Bryant pres. joins Christopher & Banks

BY CSA STAFF

MINNEAPOLIS Former Lane Bryant president Lorna Nagler will join Christopher & Banks as president and ceo effective Aug. 31. She will replace Matthew Dillon, who resigned from his position as president and ceo and as a member of the board of directors today. Nagler has also been elected as a member of Christopher & Banks’ board of directors effective Aug. 31.

Nagler most recently served as president of Lane Bryant, a division of Charming Shoppes. Before joining Charming Shoppes in April, 2002, Nagler served as a senior vp and general merchandising manager for apparel and jewelry at Kmart Corp.

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