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Retail veteran Andrea Weiss, digital expert Bill Mirabito form consulting firm

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Andrea Weiss, a 30-year retail veteran, and Bill Mirabito, a digital innovator, have teamed up to form The O Alliance, a consulting firm designed to help retailers better target today’s, multichannel digitally-savvy shoppers.

“There is clearly a new paradigm, yet many retailers are still operating with outdated business models that don’t reflect the new reality, “ said Weiss, who presently serves as president of Retail Consulting and also sits on several corporate boards, including Chico’s FAS and Pep Boys. “This is evident in the focus on channel. We focus on technology-enabled consumers and helping retailers better serve them.”

Weiss has a lengthy retail resume that includes serving as president of retail at Guess (1996 to 1998), executive VP, chief stores office, The Limited and Intimate Brands (1998 to 2001) and as president of Delia’s (2001 to 2002). Since 2002, she has been an advisor to European retailer Grupo Cortifiel.

The O Alliance will take a holistic approach, Weiss explained, that is designed to create a seamless shopping experience by refocusing a retailer’s organizational practices around digitally-savvy consumers, as opposed to the channel.

“Retailers need to align their operations with technology to reach this increasingly sophisticated consumer — from marketing and social media, to in-store digital tools, to the overall company culture. Point-to-point solutions are simply not enough,” said co-founder Bill Mirabito, CEO of consulting practice B2C Partners. He previously was a senior retail analyst at Forrester Research.

The firm uses a consulting model that leverages a network of partners in such key areas as operations, change management, digital tools, store design, marketing and e-commerce.

In addition to B2C, the O Alliance partners include brand strategy and design firm JGA; visual content agency Splashlight; training platform developer Multimedia Plus; inventory and change management consultancy iVibe Global; and Olson-Ng Retail Consulting Group, which specializes in financial improvements, merchandise planning, operational and supply chain efficiencies.

Sam Decker, CEO and co-founder of social engagement platform MassRelevance, and Jeffrey Rayport, founder and chairman of global strategy firm Marketspace have joined the O Alliance as advisors.

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Havertys has tough Q1; plans three new stores

BY Dan Berthiaume

Atlanta – Havertys reported declining year-over-year net income and sales during the first quarter of fiscal 2014, which the retailer attributed to a 0.9% drop in same-store sales and out-of-period gross profit adjustment in the first quarter of fiscal 2013. The company still plans to open three new stores in its largest markets.

Net income dropped 26% to $6.13 million, from $8.26 million. Net sales declined 2% to $181.7 million, from $186.1 million.

“Our store growth and repositioning is well underway as we work to open three new stores in our largest markets, including a smaller format designed for dense urban areas,” said Clarence H. Smith, chairman, president and CEO. “These combined with the three store relocations and two closures will increase our retail square footage about 1.8% by the end of 2014. We believe measured expansion and our ongoing focus on the customer and her Havertys shopping experience will provide growth in the near and long term."

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Seattle mayor unveils plan to raise minimum wage to $15

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Seattle Mayor Ed Murray on Thursday unveiled a plan to increase the city’s minimum wage to $15. Although Murray said the hike has broad support across local government, business and labor communities, the City Council still has to vote on the proposal.

Under Murray’s plan, businesses with fewer than 500 employees would have seven years to comply and larger businesses would have three years. Further increases would be tied to inflation.

The state of Washington already has the nation’s highest state minimum wage, at $9.32 an hour.

“Throughout this process, I’ve had two goals: to get Seattle’s low-wage workers to $15-per-hour while also supporting our employers, and to avoid a costly battle at the ballot box between competing initiatives,” Murray said in a statement. “We have a deal that I believe accomplishes both goals.”

In California, lawmakers are debating a proposal to raise the minimum wage to $13 an hour by 2017.

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