OPERATIONS

Target signs legal brief backing same-sex marriage

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Target Corp. has added its name to a legal defense of gay marriage. The move comes four years after the company was criticized for supporting a strident opponent of same-sex unions.

Target signed a court brief backing marriage equality in a pending court case and publicly declared its support of gay marriage, joining the likes of Starbucks, Apple and Intel.

"It is our belief that everyone should be treated equally under the law, and that includes rights we believe individuals should have related to marriage," Target executive VP of human resources Jodee Kozlak wrote on the company’s Bullseye blog. “Without getting into the specifics of a court case, this brief evaluates the issues created by states that both prohibit same-sex marriage and also refuse to recognize marriages that were conducted legally in other states.”

In her blog post, Kozlak wrote that Target has long offered benefits to the same-sex partners of employees.

“But current laws — in places like Wisconsin and Indiana that are addressed in this brief – make it difficult to attract and retain talent,” she wrote. “These disparate laws also create confusing and complicated benefits challenges across multiple states. We believe that everyone – all of our team members and our guests — deserve to be treated equally.

A spokeswoman for the Minnesota Family Council, which was in front of the charge against same-sex marriage in the state, predicted that the move will backfire.

“This is a very risky business decision and ultimately the wrong one because it is families that shop at Target,” Autumn Leva said in a Star Tribune report. “People in Minnesota are still deeply divided on this issue.”

Nearly all of Minnesota’s biggest corporations declined to take a position on the 2012 state referendum to ban gay marriage. The referendum failed and the state Legislature passed a bill recognizing same-sex marriage in 2013.

The case, in which Target has filed a brief, combines legal actions in Wisconsin and Indiana. Federal judges overturned gay marriage bans in both states and state officials appealed. The case is scheduled for an Aug. 26 hearing in the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

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OPERATIONS

Crate & Barrel searching for new CEO

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Sascha Bopp, CEO of Crate &and Barrel, has resigned. The retailer’s COO and CFO, Adrian Mitchell, has assumed interim leadership. A search is underway for a permanent replacement.

“This position will concentrate on supporting the company’s evolving business strategy and include a deepened focus on the customer experience and growth in the digital space,” the company said in a statement.

Bopp joined Crate and Barrel in 2009 as COO and was named CEO in 2012 after the retirement of Barbara Turf, who died last month of cancer. Bopp previously served as CFO of Primondo, a German multichannel retailer and holding company,

No reason was given for Bopp’s departure, which comes less than a month after Crate and Barrel president Marta Calle resigned. Calle, who headed the company’s CB2 division, was promoted to the number two slot at Crate and Barrel the same time Bopp was named CEO.

"With the unfortunate passing of … Barbara Turf in mid July combined with the departure of president and chief merchant Martha Calle around the same time, losing a CEO less than a month later leaves an unfortunate leadership vacuum just as Crate and Barrel moves into their critical holiday season," Neil Stern, senior partner with McMillan Doolittle, Chicago, said in a Chicago Tribune report.

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OPERATIONS

Survey: Aldi top low-price grocer

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Aldi was recognized as the nation’s low-price grocery leader for the fourth year in a row, according to a recent consumer survey conducted by Market Force Information. Aldi announced in December 2013 that it intends to open 650 new stores across the country during the next five years.

When asked to rank the top grocers offering low prices, the 6,200 consumers who participated in the study ranked Aldi first, followed by Costco and Walmart third.

In addition to remaining the low-price grocery leader, Aldi maintained a top five ranking in the categories of good private label brands, accurate pricing and tags and sustainable environment/green policies.

Aldi said it also earned top-five rankings in three new Market Force categories such as courteous staff, fast checkout and nutrition/health information.

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