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Report: Dick’s Sporting Goods lays off 478 golf pros

BY Dan Berthiaume

Pittsburgh – Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc. has reportedly laid off 478 PGA golf pros who were providing in-store services such as golf lessons and club repairs. According to Fox Business, Dick’s made the cuts as golf sales and participation rates decline.

In the first quarter of fiscal 2014, golf sales at Dick’s came in at $34 million below expectations, and same-store sales at the retailer’s Golf Galaxy banner fell 10%. In addition, average price for men’s golf drivers fell 16%. Dick’s employed 593 PGA golf instructors as of Feb. 1, 2014, meaning some instructors likely remain. The company declined to comment.

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Walmart U.S. CEO Bill Simon steps down; to be replaced by CEO of Walmart Asia

BY Marianne Wilson

Bentonville, Ark. — Wal-Mart Stores announced that Bill Simon, president and CEO of Walmart U.S. since June 2010, is leaving the company. He will be replaced by Greg Foran, 53, president and CEO of Walmart Asia, who will take up the post on Aug. 9, reporting directly Wal-Mart president and CEO, Doug McMillon. Simon will be available on a consulting basis for the next six months to ensure a seamless transition.

[Read Industry Analysis: New kid Foran pushes out old guard at Walmart U.S.]

"During Bill’s eight years of service to Walmart, his passion for our mission, dedication to our associates and our customers, and innovative thinking pushed us forward," said McMillon. "From the very beginning, his vision led us to lower the cost of health care through our $4 prescription offering. And, most recently, he put us on a path to future growth with small formats and efforts that integrate digital and physical retail."

A 35-year retail veteran, Foran joined the discounter in 2011 and became president and CEO of Walmart China in March 2012. While leading the business in China, the team made significant progress with its assortment, pricing, store operations and compliance as Foran led strategic investments in the supply chain and improved the store portfolio, Wal-Mart said. He was promoted to his current post earlier this year.

"Being asked to lead the Walmart U.S. business is a privilege that I don’t take lightly," said Foran. “I am excited to get started. The needs of our customers are changing dramatically and we have an enormous opportunity to serve them in new and different ways. We must be fierce advocates for our customers, work meticulously to exceed their expectations and earn their trust every day."

Prior to Walmart, Foran held a number of roles with Woolworths, the leading retailer in Australia and New Zealand.

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Study: Top retail websites getting slower

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Retail websites are getting slower … fast, according to a report by Radware, a provider of application delivery and application security solutions for virtual and cloud data centers. In just one year, median time to interact (TTI) has slowed down by 27% (from 4.9 seconds to 6.2 seconds), and median load time has suffered a 49% increase (from 7.2 seconds to 10.7 seconds).

The quarterly study titled “State of the Union: Ecommerce Page Speed & Web Performance, Summer 2014,” finds that of the top 100 retail websites, the median page has grown 67% in just one year and many are failing to leverage advanced techniques to help accelerate their pages.

According to the survey, use of images is one of the single performance drains, as most site owners are not taking advantage of image optimization techniques that can dramatically improve both real and perceived load times.

Radware also found that performance degradation continues to escalate as retail web pages grow larger and more complex. The median top 100 ecommerce home page takes six seconds or longer to render its primary content to online visitors – a 27% slowdown over the past year. This render time is more than twice as slow as the ideal user experience of three seconds or less.

Only 14% of the top 100 retail sites were able to deliver an optimal user experience. 17% took ten or more seconds just to be become interactive.

“We’re so accustomed to expecting to see high-quality images everywhere on the web that we take them for granted and don’t think about their heavy performance impact,” says Kent Alstad, VP of acceleration for Radware. “Page size has a direct impact on page speed, and images comprise at least half a typical page’s weight. As such, they represent an extremely fertile ground for optimization. Yet we found that many leading retailers are not taking advantage of techniques such as image compression and progressive image rendering, which can enhance both load times and user experience.”

To access the full report, which includes 15 best practices that site owners can implement to accelerate their pages, visit Radware.com/summer-sotu2014.

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