OPERATIONS

Talbots on hunt for new CEO

BY Marianne Wilson

Hingham, Mass. — It’s official: Talbots Inc. is seeking a new CEO as it works to turn around its struggling business. The retailer said Monday that president and CEO Trudy Sullivan plans to retire as soon as a successor is named.

The company said it has created a search committee of independent board members and hired executive search firm Spencer Stuart to assist in its search.

The announcement comes less than a week after Tablots reported its third loss in the past four quarters and detailed plans for a turnaround, which included such cost-cutting measures as job cuts, closing stores, reducing employees’ hours, and suspending national advertising and TV campaigns for the short term and reducing inventory. Talbots has posted an annual loss in three of the past four years. It lost $22 million in its most recent quarter.

Sullivan has served as CEO since Aug. 1, 2007, when she was hired to turn around the company. But the chain has struggled to regain its footings in the wake of the recession, beset with fashion missteps and more budget-conscious consumers.

Sullivan will remain as president, CEO and a board member until Talbots finds a new chief.

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OPERATIONS

Starbucks to create 5,000 U.K. jobs in next five years

BY Staff Writer

Seattle — Starbucks Coffee U.K. plans to create thousands of new jobs in the United Kingdom as it steps up its drive-thru program following three years of development and strong customer response to the convenience of Starbucks coffee on-the-go.

The move will see 200 new drive-thru stores opened over the next five years. Combined with openings of conventional stores over the same period, the company expects to create 5,000 new jobs.

Starbucks said about half of the new drive-though units will be operated under license by petrol forecourt retailer Euro Garages. The coffee giant also is developing a new drive-thru concept store.

“I welcome Starbucks’ announcement, and I am glad to see continued investment and job creation in the private sector," said British Prime Minister David Cameron in a statement.

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Kronos Retail Labor Index hits three-year high

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Chelmsford, Mass. — A report released Thursday by Kronos Inc. found that hiring in the retail sector continues to make marked improvements. The Kronos Retail Labor Index, which analyzes the current state of the demand and supply sides of the labor market within the U.S. retail sector, rose to 4.2% in November 2011, from a downwardly revised 3.5% in October. This was the highest reading since October 2008 and the second reading of 4% or higher in the last three months.

The Index is defined as the ratio of hires to applicants within a given month, expressed as a percentage. A level of 3% means that for every 100 applications received, three hires occurred.

“This increase in November hires relative to the recent trend could suggest that retailers are cautiously optimistic about upcoming holiday sales,” said Chris Varvares, senior managing director and co-founder, Macroeconomic Advisers, which analyzes the data.

The retailers representing 18,362 distributed locations across the United States that make up the Kronos data sample made 34,491 hires (seasonally adjusted) in November 2011, up 7.1% from a downwardly revised 32,205 hires in October 2011. The level of hires in November was roughly 8% above the 2010 average, continuing to indicate modest improvement following sharp declines during the recession.

The number of applications received by retailers included in the Kronos sample declined 10.8% to 812,673 in November 2011, from an upwardly revised 911,552 in October 2011.

The 60-day retention rate, measured as the number of hires who remain employed for at least the first 60 days divided by the total number of hires made in that month, edged up to 84.4% in July from 83.3% in June.

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