OPERATIONS

Toys “R” Us CEO stepping down

BY Marianne Wilson

Wayne, N.J. — The search is on for a new chief executive of Toys “R” Us with the announcement that Gerald L. Storch is stepping down as CEO of the company. The news comes just weeks after the world’s largest dedicated toy retailer reported that its same-store U.S. sales fell 4.5% during the holiday season, and that its total sales fell 4.7%.

Toys “R” Us said that Storch, 56, will remain in his position as chairman of the board, providing strategic guidance and playing a key role in its growth initiatives. He also will remain in the chief executive role while the company searches for a replacement.

A former Target executive, Storch joined the company in February 2006, following its acquisition by an investment group consisting of affiliates of Bain Capital Partners LLC, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., and Vornado Realty Trust.

The Toys “R” Us board credited Storch with rebuilding the company and successfully leading it through an “extremely difficult global economic environment.” The company said it has dramatically increased its online presence under his leadership.

In a statement, the Toys “R” Us Board of Directors said: “Jerry has done an exceptional job in rebuilding the company, while successfully leading it through an extremely difficult global economic environment. We are grateful for his leadership over the past seven years and for the strong foundation he has built for the future,” the board said in a statement.

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GE renews credit card program with JCPenney

BY CSA STAFF

STAMFORD, Conn. —GE Capital Retail Bank, a consumer lending unit of General Electric Company (GE), has renewed its private label credit card program with JCPenney.

The JCP consumer card program provides credit to millions of consumers who shop at more than 1,100 JCPenney stores in communities across the United States and Puerto Rico, as well as online at JCP.com.

“We are pleased to continue providing the card program to JCP customers and excited to extend what has been a very successful 13-year relationship. We look forward to working with the entire jcp team, helping to build their business and serving millions of customers across America,” said Margaret Keane, CEO of GE Capital Retail Bank.

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Retail app ‘shopkicks’ the competition

BY CSA STAFF

PALO ALTO, Calif. — Shopkick, a shopping app, on Wednesday announced that Nielsen ranked shopkick No. 34 out of approximately 1 million apps in December 2012. While still trailing giants like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter overall, Shopkick dominated the shopping category during the holiday season, with more frequent and prolonged usage than all physical retailers’ own apps including Starbucks, Walmart, Walgreens, Kroger and Safeway, the app developer noted.

"Mobile is redefining the physical retail world," stated Cyriac Roeding, Shopkick CEO. "It is on its way to become the No. 1 marketing tool for retailers and brands, because it is the only interactive medium consumers have with them in the noninteractive physical world, especially at stores. … It’s the perfect way for retailers and brands to touch shoppers at each point in the purchase cycle — from research through browsing, to purchase."

Shopkick 3.0, released last October, topped the Nielsen shopping app statistics. According to Nielsen, shopkick is the No. 4 most widely used shopping app – behind Amazon, eBay and Groupon — which makes it the most widely used shopping app at physical retailers. In addition, Shopkick ranks No. 1 on most time spent in-app per month (2 hours, 37 minutes), No. 1 on the number of sessions per month (22) and No. 1 in terms of time spent per session (7 minutes).

Shopkick’s users viewed more than 1 billion products in the app within three months, a number that previously took Shopkick one-and-a-half years to reach. Previously, users looked at five to eight products per day in the app. With Shopkick 3.0, each user averages over 100 products viewed per day, the company noted.

Since launching in August 2010, Shopkick reported it has driven more than $300 million in revenue to its alliance of retail partners and brands, with more than $200 million in 2012. Each engagement on Shopkick is valuable to brand and retail partners, and is a revenue event for Shopkick: every walk-in to a partner store, every product scan and every purchase.
Shopkick has accumulated 15 national retailers, including Target, Macy’s, Old Navy, American Eagle, Crate & Barrel, Toys"R"Us, ExxonMobil and Simon Malls, and more than 70 brands, such as Procter & Gamble, Kraft Foods, Disney, Revlon, Unilever, Pepsi, and top financial institutions, Visa and MasterCard, as partners.

To provide high-value rewards to shoppers for actually being present in stores, the Shopkick app detects a Shopkick signal, emitted from a patent-pending device located in each participating store and picked up by a shopper’s phone’s microphone and then delivers "kicks," Shopkick’s cross-retailer reward currency.

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