OPERATIONS

Report: India’s Cabinet gives OK to probe Wal-Mart lobbying

BY Katherine Boccaccio

New Delhi — An Indian official said Thursday that India’s Cabinet will investigate allegations that Wal-Mart Stores Inc. broke rules as it lobbied to make its retail market debut in the country.

According to Manish Tewari, information and broadcasting minister for India, the cabinet has authorized a retired judge to look into Wal-Mart’s lobbying disclosures and investigate whether any of the retailer’s activities broke Indian law.

The findings will be submitted to the government within three months, according to the statement by Tewari.

Wal-Mart has spent up to $25 million since 2008 on discussions regarding its foreign investments, including in the Indian retail industry, the Press Trust of India said Dec. 9, citing company disclosure filings. The opposition has alleged that a portion of the money was spent in India, where paid lobbying is prohibited.

Wal-Mart has denied that its business interests in India have been discussed with U.S. government officials.

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OPERATIONS

Lowe’s makes management shifts

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Mooresville, N.C. — Lowe’s Cos. Inc. said Thursday it has named Michael Jones chief merchandising officer, effective immediately. Jones was previously president of the North American and Latin American divisions of Husqvarna, an outdoor equipment manufacturer.

The retailer also announced that Stephen J. Szilagyi has been promoted to supply chain executive, from his current position as SVP distribution.

There has been talk in the industry about either of the two being groomed for the CEO spot, but Lowe’s chief customer officer said Thursday in an interview with Bloomberg that the executive shifts were part of the normal course of doing business.

“We always hire new executives to these senior positions at Lowe’s who have the ability to go beyond just the responsibilities we’re asking them to step into,” Greg Bridgeford told Bloomberg. “There are no discussions about Robert [Niblock, current CEO] leaving his current position.”

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OPERATIONS

Ann Taylor and Kate Hudson team for capsule collection, advocacy

BY Katherine Boccaccio

New York — Ann Inc. said Thursday that actress Kate Hudson will continue her role as the face of Ann Taylor for its spring and summer 2013 campaigns.

However, said the retailer, this year Hudson’s role will grow as both a design influence and charitable ambassador as well. For the summer collection, she will be developing a capsule collection for the brand. In addition, Hudson will join the Advisory Council for the company’s ANNpower Vital Voices Initiative, a program that supports the empowerment of young women.

Hudson will make her first foray into fashion design as she collaborates with creative director Lisa Axelson on the summer capsule, planned for a May debut. And Hudson’s broadened role as a member of the Annpower Advisory Council will allow the actress to continue her long-time work as an advocate for empowering young women.

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