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Sears considers moving out of Illinois

BY CSA STAFF

Hoffman Estates, Ill. — Sears Holdings Corp. is researching a possible move of its headquarters and 6,200 jobs out of Illinois, a company spokesman said Monday.

The retailer has had preliminary discussions with the Chicago suburb of Hoffman Estates, where it is located, and has commissioned an economic impact study, according to spokesman Chris Brathwaite.

Among the states the chain is researching are: Ohio, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Georgia, and New Jersey, according to reports Sunday in the Chicago Tribune and the Daily Herald of suburban Chicago.

State and local incentives that Sears receives will expire in 2012, Hoffman Estates Mayor Bill McLeod said. The town and company have been talking for about a year, he said, and Hoffman Estates hopes to extend the tax breaks for another 15 years and keep the largest local employer in town.

"It’s very important for everyone to understand that we have made no decisions at this point," said company spokesman Chris Brathwaite in a statement. "We do owe it to our associates and shareholders to consider options and alternatives and intend to be very thoughtful and thorough in our deliberations."

Sears, Roebuck & Co. moved to Hoffman Estates in the mid-1990s from its former headquarters in downtown Chicago. That company merged with Kmart to form Sears Holding in 2004.

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Former Gap exec fills Children’s Place COO spot

BY CSA STAFF

SECAUCUS, N.J. — The Children’s Place Retail Stores search for someone to oversee its finance and operations appears to have come to an end as the company has announced the appointment of Eric Bauer as COO. He will report to Jane Elfers, president and CEO, and will be responsible for supply chain, planning and allocation, store operations, finance, information technology and real estate.

Bauer most recently spent eight years with Gap Inc., culminating in his appointment as EVP brand operations, COO for Gap North America where he was responsible for finance, store operations, real estate, distribution, logistics, information technology and their Canadian operations. He previously served as SVP and CFO for Banana Republic. Prior to Gap, he held the position of EVP, administration and CFO for Tickets.com. Bauer began his career as a credit analyst with Banque Arabe et Internationale D’Investissement and subsequently held positions of increasing responsibility with KPMG Peat Marwick, International Marketing Associates, Pepsico Corporation’s Taco Bell Division and Choice Hotels International.

"Eric brings a wealth of knowledge and proven operational expertise to The Children’s Place," commented Elfers. "His international background, coupled with hands-on experience leading finance, planning and allocation, store operations, real estate and information technology will be a tremendous asset. I look forward to partnering with him as we continue to pursue our key growth initiatives."

Children’s Place did not say whether or not it would continue to search for a CFO following former EVP finance and administration Susan Riley’s departure in February. The company reported then that it wouldeliminate the position of EVP finance and administration and begin a search for a CFO.

Riley was originally slated to replace then CFO Hiten Patel upon his departure. Then in December 2007 Richard Paradise, SVP finance was named CFO and principal accounting officer, reporting directly to Riley, only to announce his retirement less than a year later.

The company reported that its fourth-quarternet income fell to $32.1 million in the three months ended Jan. 29, down from $34.1 million year ago. Revenue fell 2% to $453.2 million from $462.8 million in the prior-year period. Same-store sales fell 5.9%.

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NRF supports repeal of employer-mandated health care

BY CSA STAFF

WASHINGTON — The National Retail Federation announced that it is endorsing legislation that would repeal the employer mandate provision of last year’s healthcare reform law.

“The healthcare reform law enacted last year will hurt far more than help from a small business perspective,” NRF SVP government relations David French said in a letter to Representative Charles Boustany Jr., R-La., chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee’s Oversight Subcommittee. “Retailers support both the overall repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act … and specific changes to the law in the interim.”

Beginning in 2014, thePatient Protection and Affordable Care Actwill require companies with 50 or more full-time workers to provide full-time workers with health insurance at government-mandated levels or pay penalties if they fail to do so. French noted that NRF argued during the debate over healthcare reform that the requirement would ultimately lead to job losses in the retail industry, and said some retailers have already cut back hiring in anticipation of the mandate taking effect.

Boustany last week introduced H.R. 1744, the American Job Protection Act, which would use an amendment to the tax code to repeal the employer mandate.

“Additional health care costs cannot be absorbed given thin profit margins,” French said. “Fewer hires and fewer hours for retained employees is the likely outcome. Our members are already reporting fewer hires, franchises and other retail store openings as a consequence.”

NRF has also endorsed H.R. 5, the Help Efficient, Accessible, Low-Cost, Timely Healthcare Act, or HEALTH Act, a medical malpractice reform bill introduced by Representative Phil Gingrey, R-Ga.

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