FINANCE

Watch out Amazon…Home Depot narrowing price gap

BY Dan Berthiaume

Ottawa, Canada – Home Depot is narrowing its price gap with Amazon.com, which typically offers the lowest overall prices on home improvement goods.

According to a recent study from pricing analytics provider 360pi, “Building Up to Home Improvement Season,” Home Depot was the most aggressively priced home improvement “category killer,” with an average price of just more than 5% above Amazon, narrowing down to around 3% above Amazon by the end of the sampled period (May 1 – June 16, 2015).

The other major home improvement category killer, Lowe’s, was pricing the sampled assortment at an average of 11%-13% higher than Amazon. There was minimal overlap in home improvement products sold by both Wal-Mart and Amazon. However, there was a sizeable SKU overlap between Wal-Mart Marketplace sellers and Amazon, with Wal-Mart Marketplace being one of the most uncompetitive in this chart, along with ATG Stores.

Amazon leads in lowest price in the home improvement category, offering the lowest or same-as-lowest price 96% of the time in 360pi’s sample set. Several of the other retailers employ a variety of non-price promotional tactics including financing offers, cardholder exclusive discounting, and contractor pricing allowances that influence price.

Amazon’s high proportion of lowest and same-as-lowest prices was followed by Home Depot, who was playing aggressively against Amazon, and by online pure plays: eFaucets, Wayfair, Lighting New York, and Faucet Depot.

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REAL ESTATE

Thirty-one stores and growing

BY Marianne Wilson

Chicago — Marbles: The Brain Store is in an expansion mode.

The retailer has opened a new store in Washington D.C., at National Harbor, the waterfront shopping and entertainment district on the Potomac River. It is Marbles’ second location in the Washington, D.C., area and its third to open this summer, with new stores debuting in Times Square in New York City and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, marking its first location in the southern region.

In total, the games retailer plans to open over 50 additional locations in the next three years. Currently, it operates 31 stores.

Marbles specializes in one-of-a-kind games and activities that stimulate the brain and challenge the whole family. The company says it works with experts in the field of brain health and wellness for product selection, focusing on five specific areas of the brain: coordination, critical thinking, memory, visual perception and word s kills. Marbles' “Brain Workshop” also develops their own award-winning proprietary brainy products found only in their stores and online.

Marbles: The Brain Store has a full online presence and operates at 31 locations around the country.

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OPERATIONS

Rite Aid in new risk management appointment

BY Marianne Wilson

Camp Hill, Pa. — Rite Aid Corporation is beefing up its risk management.

The drugstore chain announced that Paul Zikmund, a risk management professional with nearly 30 years of experience, is joining Rite Aid as group VP of risk and controls.

In this new position, Zikmund will oversee the risk management program for Rite Aid as well as its subsidiaries, RediClinic, Health Dialog and EnvisionRx. Zikmund will report to Tony Bellezza, Rite Aid senior VP and chief compliance officer.

Most recently, Zikmund served as director of global ethics and compliance at Bunge, a leading global agribusiness and food company headquartered in White Plains, New York, where he was responsible for implementing the company’s fraud, ethics and compliance risk management programs. Before joining Bunge in 2011, Zikmund held senior positions at Tyco International, Inc., SolomonEdwards and Deloitte & Touche, LLP, serving in a variety of risk management functions.

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