OPERATIONS

Toys ‘R’ Us moves interim CEO into role permanently; names new U.S. president

BY Marianne Wilson

Wayne, N.J. — Toys “R” Us announced that Antonio Urcelay has been named chief executive, effective immediately, after serving as the company’s interim CEO since May of this year. In other executive news, the retailer appointed a former Wal-Mart executive, Hank Mullany, as president of Toys “R” U.S., effective Nov. 5.

Urcelay, 61, who joined Toys “R” Us in 1996, had been president of the company’s Europe business before being named interim CEO.

“Antonio’s extensive knowledge of global markets makes him uniquely qualified to lead the organization as we expand rapidly in Asia and other parts of the world," Toys “R” Us said in a statement. “He has impressed all of us with his vision and leadership of the team throughout the search process.

Mullany, 55, was previously CEO of The ServiceMaster Co. Prior to ServiceMaster, he was executive VP of Walmart U.S. and president of Walmart’s northern business,

“Hank brings a fresh perspective to the business, which, in combination with his operational strengths, will help build on the significant progress that has been made in advancing the U.S. business,” Toys “R” Us stated.

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FINANCE

NPD Group: Holiday shoppers to spend more; seek out deals

BY Marianne Wilson

Port Washington, N.Y. — The majority of consumers intend to spend the same as or more than last year, with fewer saying they plan to spend less, according to The NPD Group’s Holiday Spending Survey, the twelfth annual survey of consumers’ holiday spending intentions.

“Consumers are feeling better about the economy compared to last year and they plan to take advantage of sales during key periods,” said Marshall Cohen, chief industry analyst, The NPD Group. “But this year’s holiday will be a tricky one for retailers. With fewer days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Government distractions, and lack of newness in the marketplace, retailers will have to rely more on promotions to excite the consumer.”

Comparison shopping and comparing prices online remain consumers’ top pre-purchase actions. One-third of consumers plan to buy all of their holiday gifts on sale.

Overall, the holiday shopping season will get off to an earlier start compared to last year. According to the report, this year more consumers have already started, or will start shopping before Thanksgiving.

“Consumers who plan to shop early expect the retailers to respond with extended store hours, and better deals offered earlier,” said Cohen.

Consumers’ purchasing plans are similar to last year, with the same Top 10 items on their holiday shopping list.

“With no new trendy items besides some updated versions of the same hot products from past years, consumers will not shop with fear due to lack of inventory. The must-have items will also be available at a wider variety of retailers, minimizing the panic shopping of years past,” said Cohen.

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OPERATIONS

Survey: J.Crew.com tops in overall customer service

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — J.Crew ranked No. 1 overall in customer service in September for the third consecutive month, in a monthly survey by StellaService, the independent ratings provider that ranks online retailers according to their customer service. StellaService measures companies monthly across four service areas: phone, email, shipping and returns.

Here is a look at the top finishers in the four individual categories:

Phone support: Coach.com has steadily improved its phone support in recent months, having topped the phone category in June and now September. The retailer’s total time to live agent was speedier and its product knowledge was among the best-in-class for all retailers.

Email: With the best product and policy knowledge among its competitors, LLBean.com topped the email category. The performance unseated JCrew.com, which has topped the category the two previous months.

Shipping: For the second time, the Abercrombie & Fitch e-commerce site topped the category, the last time was in June 2013. The retailer scored high marks for package fit, always included a packing slip, taking six hours on average to fulfill an order — beating the category average by 31 hours.

Returns: LLBean.com’s performance earned a repeat appearance on top of the Returns category. The retailer edged katespade.com by providing adhesive return labels 100% of the time.

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