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Saks Saleswoman Accused of Stealing $1 Million

BY CSA STAFF

New York City A saleswoman at Saks Fifth Avenue’s flagship store in Manhattan is accused of passing along more than $1 million in refunds to her most valued customers so she could rack up big sales bonuses for herself.

Cecile Villacorta is charged with grand larceny, forgery and falsifying business records, and faces 25 years in prison if convicted.

Villacorta reportedly was a top-grossing sales associate at Saks, and sold more than $27 million in fine jewelry between 2000 and 2006.

During that period, prosecutors charge, she promised customers credit refunds on purchases that were not returned so she could earn the big commissions that come with big sales.

According to court papers, she earned thousands of dollars in commissions using this tactic.

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Pier 1 narrows 1Q loss

BY CSA STAFF

FORT WORTH, Texas Pier 1 Imports reported a net loss of $32.8 million or 37 cents per share for the first quarter versus $56.4 million or 64 cents per share reported for the same period last year, a 42% improvement over last year.

Total sales for the first fiscal quarter declined to $310 million from $356 million in the year-ago quarter. Comparable-store sales for the quarter declined 5.4%.

Commenting on the results, Alex Smith, president and ceo, said, “Throughout the quarter we continued to focus on our business priorities which are designed to return our company to profitability and beyond even in difficult times.”

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Sears wants its MTV

BY CSA STAFF

NEW YORK Sears is partnering with MTV to launch a new movie musical, “The American Mall,” that gives the retailer a strong presence in the film and then takes that brand placement back to the stores.

“The American Mall,” directed by Shawn Ku, is the story of a group of young adults who work in a mall over the summer. The movie was filmed in Salt Lake City and Provo, UT, with several scenes shot in a local Sears store. Sears fashions have been integrated into the movie as part of the characters’ wardrobes. Plus, extras carry Sears shopping bags in the background. Co-branded commercials spots will air during the premiere of the movie on August 11.

Sears in-store experience zones will feature “The American Mall” character looks as created through consultation with the movie’s costume designer, Cynthia Summers. Licensed “The American Mall” merchandise and the movie DVD with a bonus disc featuring exclusive material will be available only at Sears. Additionally, four stars of the movie — Nina Dobrev, Rob Mayes, Bresha Webb and Rodney To — will be featured in the Sears circular and online wearing Sears fashions.

“We’re leveraging ‘The American Mall’ partnership at every possible touch point, which is really exciting for Sears, as MTV is a highly relevant brand for young adults,” said Richard Gerstein, senior vp and chief marketing officer for Sears. “As a retailer, it is important for Sears to provide offerings that are meaningful for students, while providing the all-important value for Mom.”

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