Whole Foods fined $800,000 for overcharging
Austin, Texas – Whole Foods Market Inc. is being fined about $800,000 for charging excessive prices in California. Inspections of Whole Foods and Mrs. Gooch’s stores in the state revealed that the retailer was charging for the weight of salad bar containers, selling prepared foods by the item rather than the pound, and labeling items as heavier than their actual weight.
The fines stem from a consumer protection suit brought by the city attorney’s office of San Diego. Whole Foods must pay $210,000 each to the cities of San Diego, Santa Monica and Los Angeles, as well as $100,000 to a weights and measures protection fund and additional reimbursements to the state and county agencies who investigated its pricing tactics.
For the next five years, Whole Foods will also install pricing managers at the state and store levels in California and submit to random quarterly pricing audits of all 74 of its stores in California. Whole Foods said it cooperated with the investigation, had 98% pricing accuracy in California, and will improve its internal pricing procedures.
Wal-Mart shuffles merchandising leadership
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Bentonville, Ark. – Wal-Mart has shuffled its merchandising leadership with a broad reassignment of roles among merchandising executives aimed at improving customer service.
The changes affected executives throughout the merchandising organization and included areas such as consumables, food, general merchandise, softlines, health and wellness, shopper insights and merchandising operations. In an internal memo, chief merchandising and marketing officer Duncan Mac Naughton said he was pleased to announce, “a few changes which will help accelerate our growth and efficiency as a world-class merchant organization. Additionally, these moves provide a more specialized service to our customers, while also creating better alignment and a greater visibility across our business.”
Among the most significant moves was the elevation of Scott Huff to the role of executive VP of merchandising operations from his prior position as senior VP of consumables. In his new role, Huff is responsible for merchandising execution, replenishment, store layout, supplier diversity, planning, pricing, modular development and joint business planning. Working closely with Huff will be Scott Pleiman who was named senior VP of planning, pricing, modular development and joint business planning.
Assuming Huff’s prior responsibilities as senior VP of consumables, but in an executive VP capacity is Michelle Gloeckler. She was named executive VP of consumables and U.S. manufacturing after previously serving as senior VP of home and overseeing the retailer’s expanding domestic sourcing initiative.
Another key EVP move involved John Aden to the newly created role of executive VP of sales innovation. He is tasked with identifying new and disruptive service and product offerings, according to Mac Naughton. Aden had previously served as executive VP of merchandise services and executive VP of general merchandise prior to that.
Walmart’s Global Customer and Insights and Analytics group, led by executive VP Cindy Davis, appointed Matt Kistler to the new role of senior VP of Walmart U.S. consumer insights. He will report to Davis and Walmart U.S. chief marketing officer Stephen Quinn.
Other key changes included the following:
• In the grocery area, Ashley Buchanan was appointed senior VP of dry grocery after previously leading Walmart’s sizable snacks and beverage division and prior to that Walmart’s innovations team. Promoted to Buchanan’s role was Latriece Watkins who was named senior VP of snacks and beverages after previously serving as VP of adult beverages, a category that experienced dramatic growth under her leadership. Reporting to Watkins in a new role as VP of adult beverages is Silvia Azrai Kawas. The group will report to Jack Sinclair, Walmart’s executive VP of food.
• In the softline area, the promotion of Gloecker resulted in the promotion of Marybeth Cornwell to the role of senior VP reporting to Andy Barron, executive VP of softlines for Walmart U.S. Cornwell previously served as senior VP of home and apparel for Sam’s Club. In a related softlines move, Deanah Baker was named senior VP of apparel and ladieswear, intimates, jewelry and accessories. Diana Marshall was named VP of baby, a huge business at Walmart, after previously holding merchandising roles in the housewares, home, hardware and paint businesses.
• In the hardlines and health-and-wellness areas, Walmart named former Lowe’s and Hechinger Co., merchant to the role of VP of hardware and paint. In health and wellness, Mark Phillips was named VP of pharmaceutical merchandising after previously serving as senior director of merchandising for small formats.
The changes come as Walmart strives to restore same store sales growth at its U.S. stores during the back half of the year after a challenging first quarter and difficult 2013.
Demoulas names co-CEOs
Tewksbury, Mass. – Following the dismissal of former president and CEO Arthur T. Demoulas, the board of directors of Demoulas Super Markets Inc. has elected retail executives Felicia Thornton as COO and Jim Gooch as chief administrative officer, and the two will serve as co-CEOs. Both Thornton and Gooch had recently been serving as consultants to the company.
Thornton’s past experience includes serving as CFO of Albertsons and group VP and member of the executive team at Kroger. Gooch has previously served as president and CEO of RadioShack Corp., and has also held financial positions at Kmart and Sears Holding Corp.
Arthur T. Demoulas, who was not re-elected president and will not retain any management responsibilities moving forward, remains a shareholder of the company.
In addition, the board re-elected Don Mulligan as VP, CFO and treasurer, and Jim Miamis as VP of Market Basket. Joseph Rockwell was not re-elected VP and is no longer with the company. William Marsden, former director of operations, is no longer with the company.