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Power to the People

BY Connie Robbins Gentry

Under the overarching theme of “Creating and Enhancing the Customer Experience,” attendees at the Supply Chain Summit, held June 25–27 in Berkeley, Calif., witnessed a holistic world view of what it takes to effectively design and efficiently execute retail supply chains that respond to global dynamics and enhance the customer experience. The inaugural conference, co-hosted by Chain Store Age and Cambridge, Mass.-based ChainLink Research, assembled retailers, consumer-product-goods (CPG) manufacturers and providers of supply chain services and solutions for educational sessions and networking opportunities.

Ann Grackin, CEO of ChainLink Research, encouraged attendees to “embrace change and seek learning experiences.”

One of the key trends impacting retail supply chains, Grackin noted, is the ongoing migration to an “outcome” economy, where success is predicated on enterprisewide results rather than incremental metrics. Under the outcome-based philosophy, power has clearly shifted from the retailer to the consumer.

“You cannot design an effective supply chain without knowledge of who your customer is,” stated Grackin, and customers as a general rule are in a state of evolution. “People are looking for more than just assortment, more choices and a total experience.”

A twist on Abraham Maslow’s traditional hierarchy of needs illustrated where ChainLink believes consumers are headed. In this revisited version of Maslow’s pyramid, values are at the peak of the hierarchy followed by experience, then results. Price and availability, historically the key retail motivators, represent the fundamental elements of the pyramid—but not the pinnacle of achievement.

Presentations across the three-day Supply Chain Summit illustrated actual implementations and proven solutions for achieving positive results throughout a retail organization, including discussions of Best Buy’s use of RFID (radio-frequency identification), Tractor Supply Co.’s flexible distribution network and Walgreens’ impressive and motivational story of staffing distribution centers with disabled workers.

Sponsors of the Supply Chain Summit included FedEx (Memphis, Tenn.), GT Nexus (Alameda, Calif.), Avery Dennison (Pasadena, Calif.), T3Ci (Sunnyvale, Calif.), Marsh Risk Consulting (New York City), Manhattan Associates (Atlanta), Red Prairie (Waukesha, Wis.), and RFID Wizards (Los Gatos, Calif.).

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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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