Shopko and Pamida complete merger, Pamida stores to be converted
Green Bay Wis. — General merchandise retailers Shopko Stores and Pamida announced Thursday the completion of their previously announced merger that will create a $3 billion company that serves largely rural communities in 22 states.
The combined entity will retain the Shopko name. Shopko will be headquartered in Green Bay and Pamida’s corporate headquarters in Omaha, Neb., will be consolidated into the Green Bay office over the next several months.
The company said that Shopko chief Paul Jones will lead the entire company as president, chairman and CEO. Pamida CEO John Harlow will serve on the leadership team and help direct the integration process.
“Our aim is to combine the best of both companies as we become one Shopko team with a shared vision to become the nation’s leading general merchandise retailer focused on serving smaller communities across the country with our Shopko Hometown store format,” said Jones.
A store conversion plan calls for all Pamida stores to be converted to the Shopko Hometown store format by the end of 2012. Six Pamida stores will not go through conversion and will be closed in August.
The Shopko Hometown retail format, developed over the past three years to augment Shopko’s larger store model, offers a merchandising strategy that combines pharmacy services with a broad offering of national brands and private label brands of apparel, home furnishings, toys, consumer electronics, seasonal items, and lawn and garden products. Size ranges from 15,000 sq. ft. to 35,000 sq. ft.
Shopko announced approximately $80 million will be invested into Pamida store conversions which will begin in June and occur in phases through the end of the year. Each individual store conversion will take approximately five-six weeks from start to finish and will include new interior and exterior signage, updated supplemented fixtures, improved store design and layout, as well as an expanded merchandise mix.
“Over the past two years, seven Pamida stores have already been successfully transitioned to the Shopko Hometown format,” said Jones. “We’ve received overwhelmingly positive feedback from customers in these communities who tell us they appreciate the improved shopping experience and access to a broader, differentiated selection of merchandise, including products and brands previously not available in their community.”
Once Pamida’s chain-wide conversions are complete, the company plans to accelerate the addition of new Shopko Hometown stores in the second half of 2012 and into 2013. There will be no change to Shopko’s current 149 stores.
Shopko is owned by affiliates of Sun Capital Partners.
Kronos: Retail hiring on the rise
Chelmsford, Mass. — The Kronos Retail Labor Index released by the company on Thursday showed that retail hiring is on the rise, even as fewer people seek jobs in the retail sector.
The Index jumped to 4.2%, up nearly 7% from last year, indicating a potential recovery in the labor market. The number of applications edged down 1.3% , which is down nearly 6% from its level one year ago, pointing to applicants seeking employment in other growing industries.
“Retail firms in the Kronos sample have faced modestly tightening hiring conditions in recent months, as the pool of applications for each hire made has contracted,” said Chris Varvares, senior managing director and co-founder, Macroeconomic Advisers.
February’s decline continued the downward trend in applications that began in the second half of last year, bringing applications to their lowest level since December 2007, right at the onset of the recession.
The Kronos Retail Labor Index, analyzed by Macroeconomic Advisers, is defined as the ratio of hires to applications within a given month, expressed as a percentage. A level of 3.0% means that for every 100 applications received, three hires occurred.
J.C. Penney names top merchant
New York City — J.C. Penney Co. has promoted Elizabeth Sweney to the position of chief merchant, Women’s Wear Daily reported.
Sweney is a 12-year-company veteran. She served as executive VP and general merchandise manager of women’s apparel.