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Teen apparel retailer firms up executive suite with two new positions

BY Marianne Wilson

Rue 21 has added the positions of COO and chief marketing officer to its executive roster.

The chain has promoted Dirk Armstrong to COO. Armstrong has been with rue21 for nearly five years and was formerly senior VP and director of stores. Previously, he served as senior VP, director of stores at Ann Taylor and regional director at Gap Inc.

In his new role as COO, Armstrong will focus on two key priorities, starting with driving the strategic vision of rue21’s brick-and-mortar locations and managing the 21,000 field employees across its 1,217 stores. He will also be leading the strategy that will transform the company’s girls department in-store experience to meet the girls’ merchandise transformation.

In other appointments, Brett Trent has been tapped for the newly created position of chief marketing officer at rue21. Trent has spent the past two years in the roles of chief digital officer and prior to that, senior VP of digital retail.

He brings more than 20 years of experience leveraging digital in conjunction with traditional retail marketing as the former VP of ecommerce at Ascena Retail Group, Charming Shoppes, and Goody’s. In his new role at rue21, Mr. Trent will unite the customer-facing capabilities and technology resources born within rue21’s digital platform into the customer-centric, brand vision of the marketing department.

“We’re excited to have both Dirk and Brett moving forward in these new roles for the company,” said Keith McDonough, Interim CEO at rue21. “We have clear goals in 2017 to transform the customer experience and Girls’ merchandise offering, while being completely customer-centric, and we could not have two better leaders on our team supporting this transformation.”

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New Orleans Saints champion, partner, to expand Dunkin’ Donuts in Louisiana

BY Marianne Wilson

A new partnership plans to open dozens of Dunkin’ Donuts locations in Louisiana.

The company announced that New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees, in partnership with existing franchisee Vik Patel, has signed an agreement to develop up to 69 new Dunkin' Donuts restaurants in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Shreveport, Monroe and Alexandria, Louisiana over the coming years. Brees is a New Orleans Saints Super Bowl champion and MVP.

The first location under the new partnership is planned to open in 2017, and the group will also co-own five existing Dunkin' Donuts restaurants in Louisiana.

Dunkin’ Donuts Bourbon Street Donuts, LLC is led by Vik Patel, the CEO of Tampa-based Purple Square Management Co. Patel has been a Dunkin' Donuts franchisee for 10 years and currently operates 46 restaurants in Alabama, Florida and Louisiana. Purple Square also has plans to open additional units in 2017.

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Office Depot sells European business

BY Marianne Wilson

Office Depot Inc. continues to streamline its operations.

The office supply giant announced it has completed the sale of its European business to The Aurelius Group. The purchase price was not disclosed.

The transaction is part of the company's recently announced international divestiture strategy to focus on opportunities in its North American business.

Office Depot's European business has about 6,000 employees, operates in 14 countries and has annual revenues of about $2.8 billion.

“The sale of our European business will allow us to streamline operations and focus our resources on markets that will provide the best opportunity to implement our recently announced three-year strategic plan,” said Roland Smith, Office Depot chairman and CEO. “The Aurelius Group has a proven track record of positioning its acquisitions for future success, and we look forward to working with them to complete this transaction.”

According to Office Depot, Aurelius has completed more than 70 transactions across Europe since 2005. The firm specializes in investing in companies and corporate spin-offs, as well as complex divisional carve-outs from corporates.

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