OPERATIONS

Turnaround expert Roland Smith named CEO of Office Depot

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Office Depot Inc. — the new entity created by the merger of Office Depot and OfficeMax — named Roland Smith as CEO, effective immediately. Smith, 59, most recently served as CEO of Delhaize American, a division of Belgian grocery giant Delhaize Group. Prior to that, he was president and CEO of The Wendy’s Co., holding company for the Wendy’s chain.

Smith’s appointment comes a week after Office Depot closed its $1.2 billion merger with OfficeMax. In conjunction with his appointment, the two CEOs of Office Depot and OfficeMax, Neil Austrian and Ravi Saligram respectively, who were serving as co-CEOs of the combined company, both resigned.

Smith comes to Office Depot "with a strong retail track record of increasing operating profit, managing complex integrations, directing corporate turnarounds and transforming companies for future success," the company said in a statement.

Smith has acquired a reputation as a turnaround expert He joined Arby’s in 1994 and was named CEO in 1997. From 1996 to 1998, the chain nearly tripled its operating profit and improved same-store sales.

He then moved on to AMF Bowling Worldwide Inc., where he took the company into and out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy and reduced debt by two-thirds. He next ran American Golf, where he increased revenue. In 2006, he returned to Arby’s, where he helped oversee its merger with Wendy’s.

“I know that numerous cross-company teams have worked diligently over the past eight months to create a clear blueprint for the integration of Office Depot and OfficeMax," Smith said. "Moving forward, my focus will be on fully integrating the two companies, achieving the planned synergies, creating a compelling vision for the future, and leveraging our infrastructure and assets to drive improved profitability and increased revenue. Additionally, I fully understand that we need to make a headquarters decision quickly so that we can drive our integration efforts.”

Smith said the companies’ combined resources have the ability to transform the merged company to "provide new opportunities for our global associates, become a more appealing partner to our vendors and increase value for our shareholders."

Nigel Travis, Office Depot’s lead director, co-chair of the CEO selection committee and chairman and CEO of Dunkin’ Brands, said he Selection Committee spent several months evaluating more than 100 candidates.

“Roland is uniquely qualified for the newly combined Office Depot and OfficeMax,” Travis said. “He has decades of experience integrating companies and cultures and an impressive track record in turning around businesses. Additionally, he brings outstanding leadership that will be invaluable as we seek to transform and grow our new company.”

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FINANCE

Starbucks to pay $2.3 billion to Kraft

BY Staff Writer

New York — Starbucks Coffee Company said it would pay Kraft Foods $2.79 billion to settle a dispute over the coffee-shop chain’s bagged-coffee business.

The payment, ordered by an arbitrator, consists of $2.23 billion in damages and $557 million in interest and attorneys’ fees. The company said it has adequate liquidity, both in the form of cash on hand and borrowing capacity, to fund the payment and will book it as a charge to its fiscal 2013 operating expenses.

Starbucks’ dispute with Kraft began in March 2011, when Starbucks prematurely scrapped a contract with Kraft that permitted Kraft to sell bagged Starbucks coffee in grocery stores.

Starbucks left little doubt it did not agree with the outcome.

"We strongly disagree with the arbitrator’s conclusion," said Troy Alstead, CFO, Starbucks, in a statement. "We believe Kraft did not deliver on its responsibilities to our brand under the agreement."

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MARKETING/SOCIAL MEDIA

PlayNetwork to provide music to Levi’s in 1,500 stores worldwide

BY Marianne Wilson

Seattle — PlayNetwork, a leader in branded entertainment media experiences, announced it is providing music programming and installing state-of-the-art media systems for the Levi’s brand in 1,500 stores around the globe, including all U.S. locations.

"The songs we chose for Levi’s embody the brand’s pioneering spirit and push its rich cultural heritage even further," said Spencer Manio, PlayNetwork’s lead senior music supervisor for Levi’s. "The music you’ll hear ranges from 1940s blues to 1990s garage bands to up-and-coming artists, but each song was specifically chosen to create an emotional connection between Levi’s and its fans."

Levi’s has a long-standing reputation for aligning itself with progressive artists, ideas, and cultural movements. The company has also used music in their marketing and advertising strategy to connect with people in new and surprising ways.

To develop a new program that continues that legacy, PlayNetwork immersed itself in the Levi’s brand, decoding all aesthetic facets from design, texture, lighting, decor, energy, color, and overall experience of the retail stores. This process, paired with PlayNetwork’s music industry knowledge and relationships with leading media labels, helped create a program that is already resonating with customers.

“I’ve heard people say that they can’t leave the store yet because they’re waiting to hear what song will play next," said Chad Hinson, senior director of global brand creative at Levi’s. "Together, the Levi’s Global Brand Environment team and PlayNetwork have created music programs that are hopefully turning people on to new music, as well as re-familiarizing them with timeless classics."


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