OPERATIONS

Tuesday Morning CEO files discrimination claim that breast cancer diagnosis figured in her ouster

BY Marianne Wilson

Dallas — Kathleen Mason, former president and CEO of Tuesday Morning Corp., has filed disability discrimination charges against the retailer, alleging she was removed after disclosing to the board that she was battling breast cancer.

"The board’s attitude toward Kathleen changed after it learned of her breast cancer diagnosis and treatment,’ said attorney Roger Dunn, of Clouse Dunn Dunn LLP, Dallas, who is representing Mason, in a statement on Friday.

In the filing, Mason claims she was removed from her leadership role in June after disclosing to the Tuesday Morning board that she was battling breast cancer. Prior to her firing, Mason led the company to 12 consecutive years of profitability before her firing, according to a statement released by Dunn.

"Current quarterly estimates were down at the company, but this is a woman who had proven to be a more-than-effective leader and prepared the company to weather the current economic downturn," he said.

Dunn said that Tuesday Morning had been profitable every year Mason led the company, and that the company has no long-term debt. During her tenure, private equity investors led by Madison Dearborn saw an initial investment of approximately $117 million grow in value to more than $700 million, according to Dunn.

"Given her record, this is someone any company would want leading them through these challenging times. But instead, the board’s attitude toward Kathleen changed after it learned of her breast cancer diagnosis and treatment," he said. "But those who know Kathleen know that she would never allow her health to become a corporate liability."

The severance package offered to Mason emphasized medical benefits and included a 10-year consultancy clause, after which an 18-month non-compete clause would begin, in effect locking her out of working elsewhere for nearly 12 years.

"The board made it clear she was not being fired ‘for cause’ and the company wanted to retain her expertise for another 11½ years. One has to question why she was removed from her job," said Dunn.

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Panasonic develops new portable beauty tools

BY CSA STAFF

SECAUCUS, N.J. — Panasonic has expanded its growing portfolio of beauty products with the launch of three new products: a heated eyelash curler, precision body shaver and facial hair trimmer.

The newest products join Panasonic’s current beauty product portfolio, which includes facial steamers, pore cleansers and bikini trimmers.

"Whether commuting to work, dashing to a favorite gym class or jet-setting for a weekend getaway, having the right beauty and grooming essentials is a must. Our new line of compact beauty tools answers the growing need for on-the-go beauty solutions," stated Walter Taffarello, group marketing manager of Panasonic Consumer Marketing of North America. "The best products multitask, take up minimal space and leave women feeling fresh and fabulous. To provide on-the-go women with products they need to be effortlessly beautiful, Panasonic engineers have carefully crafted heated eyelash curlers, precision body shavers and facial hair trimmers perfect for any purse, gym or makeup bag."

The new Panasonic EH-SE60VP heated eyelash curler creates natural long-lasting curls in seconds, with or without mascara. With a 360-degree rotating comb, the new device allows women to attain natural and voluminous lashes without expensive extensions. It has a suggested retail price of $39.99.

The new Panasonic EH-WR40VP precision body shaver is the ideal companion for any woman who needs a quick touch-up before rushing out the door. With ultra-thin blades and a pivoting head, the body shaver offers an extra close shave for the entire body avoiding nicks or cuts. It is designed to be used without water and has a suggested retail price of $29.99.

The Panasonic ER-GN25VP facial hair trimmer offers precision to discreetly get rid of stray facial hairs or a brow touch-up between waxing. With a washable and detachable head, the trimming wand removes any unwanted hair from the eyebrows or face. It has a suggested retail price of $29.99.

The three Panasonic pocket-sized women’s beauty and grooming products are available at Amazon.com, La Curacao, J&R, Kohls.com and Kmart.

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…And in other where are they now news

BY CSA STAFF

In addition to a John Fleming sighting in Minneapolis, Walmart alums John Menzer and Craig Herkert made news of their own this week.

Menzer resigned as CEO of Michaels following a stroke he suffered back in April, while Herkert was let go from his CEO role at Supervalu following a string of poor results.
Menzer left Walmart in early 2009 after a career in which he served as chief administrative officer, CEO of Walmart International and CFO of Wal-Mart Stores. After he retired from Walmart, he surfaced as the CEO of Michaels, the nation’s leading arts and crafts retailer with more than 1,000 stores. Following his stroke in April, Michaels created an office of the CEO comprised of Lew Klessel, interim COO and a managing director of Bain Capital, and Chuck Sonsteby, Michael’s chief administrative officer and CFO. The pair will continue to lead the company until Menzer’s successor is hired.

“Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with John and his family during his ongoing recovery, said Matt Levin, managing director with Bain Capital Partners, the private equity firm who, along with The Blackstone Group, owns 93% of Michael’s outstanding shares. “We will greatly miss his leadership, passion and enthusiasm, but the imprint he has left on the company will endure in its people and their commitment to excellence. John’s contributions to Michaels cannot be overstated and he will always remain part of the Michaels family.”

The words were less kind regarding Herkert’s departure from Supervalu, a company he joined as CEO in 2009 after serving as Walmart International’s president and CEO of the Americas. In all fairness, Herkert inherited a difficult situation at Supervalu, but he failed to meaningfully improve the company’s performance and lost the confidence of the food retailer’s board. The final straw came on July 11 when Supervalu shares tumbled following the release of financial results in which earnings per share of 19 cents were about half of what analysts expected. To conserve cash, Supervalu suspended its dividend, and Herkert announced the company was for sale.

Less than three weeks after the bad news was delivered to investors, the company announced Herkert had been replaced by Wayne Sales, a current Supervalu board member and the retired vice chairman of Canadian Tire, a leading general merchandise retailer in Canada.

“In my new role, I will work closely with our leadership team to improve our sales and earnings trajectory and generate long-term shareholder value, focusing relentlessly on identifying factors that will drive meaningful improvements in our strategy execution and overall performance,” Sales said. “We will take significant cost out of the business, and move with urgency in our retail food business to lower prices and create points of sustainable differentiation for our customers.”

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