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Staples unveils plan to close 60 stores, invest in online/mobile efforts

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Framingham, Mass. — Staples Inc. announced Tuesday a strategic plan to shore up sales and profitability that will involve accelerating the closure of 15 U.S. stores and 45 stores in Europe.

The office supplies retailer also said it will ramp up investment in its online and mobile efforts.

The announcement comes after a soft second quarter in which profit and traffic dipped downward.

In all, Staples said it will close about 30 U.S. stores this year, as well as relocate and downsize another 30. In Europe, all 45 closures are expected to occur prior to fiscal year-end.

Staples also announced that it has appointed John Wilson as president of Staples Europe, replacing Rob Vale who is retiring. Demos Parneros will lead U.S. retail and online efforts for Staples.

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Summer Infant retains investor relations firm

BY CSA STAFF

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — Summer Infant, a juvenile products manufacturer, today has retained Sharon Merrill (www.InvestorRelations.com), a nationally recognized investor relations and corporate communications firm based in Boston, to provide strategic investor relations services.

"We engaged Sharon Merrill to develop and execute a first-class strategic investor relations program for Summer Infant," said chairman and CEO Jason Macari. "Sharon Merrill’s expert counsel and deep experience with small-cap companies like Summer Infant will be significant assets in our effort to attract new investors while strengthening relationships with our existing shareholder base."

"We are delighted to be working with Summer Infant and communicating the Company’s performance and prospects to investors, analysts and other critical stakeholders," said Sharon Merrill president and partner Maureen Wolff. "We look forward to working with the Summer Infant management team to help drive shareholder value through an effective investor relations program."

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Walmart Canada calls on students for next great business idea

BY CSA STAFF

TORONTO — Walmart Canada is leading the search for the next great business idea through its second annual Green Student Challenge.

The retailer is looking for teams of post-secondary students from across the country to convince some of Canada’s most successful business leaders that they have the most compelling breakthrough idea to change business as we know it. A total of $100,000 in cash will be awarded including $25,000 to the winners and $25,000 to the winners’ school.

The panel of judges includes Shelley Broader, president and CEO of Walmart Canada, Dianne Craig, CEO of Ford Motor Company of Canada, Chris O’Neill, managing director of Google Canada, Claude Mongeau, president and CEO of CN, Ana Dominguez, president and general manager of SC Johnson Canada.

"Every member of our judging panel has signed on because they recognize the value of discovering the young minds who will change the future landscape of Canadian businesses by thinking green," said Broader. "Businesses today are looking for ways to introduce sustainable business practices that improve the bottom line. The Walmart Green Student Challenge gives students the chance to introduce Canada’s next big sustainable business idea."

The winner of the inaugural Walmart Green Student Challenge in February 2012 was a team of three from the University of Waterloo that presented an integrated energy hub for retail distribution centres. The hub would integrate solar rooftop panels, be connected to the smart electricity grid to provide grid balancing and auxiliary services, and produce net economic benefits estimated at $1.35 million per year over 20 years.

The panel of judges will be looking for three key criteria when they evaluate the proposals of this year’s Walmart Green Student Challenge submissions: the winning idea will present a new way of doing business, have a significant sustainability benefit, and have a strong business case to back it up.

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