OPERATIONS

Whole Foods Market named NRF’s Retail Innovator of the Year

BY Staff Writer

Washington, D.C. — The National Retail Federation announced that Whole Foods Market is the recipient of its prestigious annual Innovator of the Year award.

Walter Robb, co-CEO, will accept the award on behalf of co-CEO and founder John Mackey during the Annual Retail Industry Luncheon at NRF’s 101st Annual Convention and Expo on Jan. 17.

Additionally, Burberry has been selected by the NRF as the International Retailer of the Year, with Angela Ahrendts, Burberry CEO, accepting the award. Macy’s Richard Cohen, group VP legislative affairs, will be awarded the Silver Plaque.

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Urban Outfitters Shocker

BY Marianne Wilson

I have to admit it: I was shocked when I heard the news this week that Glen Senk, the widely-admired CEO of Urban Outfitters, was resigning. Sure, the company wasn’t coming off the best of years, having battled lackluster sales throughout much of 2011. A series of fashion misses — nothing new in the always dicey world of women’s apparel — had taken their toll on profit as the retailer sought to clear slow-moving merchandise with deep discounts. Senk is succeeded at the hipster clothing chain by Richard Hayne, the company’s founder and president, who also has a 22% ownership stake in the company.

But one not-so-great year does not diminish Senk’s achievements. All told, he was with Urban Outfitters for 18 years, during which time it grew about 23% annually. The fact is the $2.4 billion company has, over the past decade, turned in one of the industry’s best track records, and Senk is largely responsible for it. His sudden and abrupt departure took the entire industry by surprise. That he was leaving to pursue ‘another opportunity” led to all sorts of speculation. Some had going to Gap Inc., others to Talbots, and there were even those who had him going to Apple stores.

But the rumors didn’t have much time to percolate. The announcement came out some 24 hours later that Senk was taking the chief executive role—and an ownership stake — at the privately owned, fine-jewelry company David Yurman Inc., where he already sits on the board and has a close relationship with founders David and Sybil Yurman. The company has 26 wholly-owned stores, and its line is distributed to some 450 stores around the globe.

While Urban Outfitters’ stock took a beating following Senk’s resignation, not everyone was dismayed by the change at the top.

Sterne Agee analyst Margaret Whitfield said she believes Urban Outfitters under Hayne will be better run, citing his operating experience as a positive over Senk’s expertise as a merchant.

“We believe the management change could improve the company’s fortunes,” she wrote.

I hope she’s right. Urban Outfitters has carved a strong niche for its brands in recent years, and pulled off the enviable feat of being a chain operator whose individual stores always felt unique and distinct from one another. The merchandise also had a distinct edge to it. Whether it can continue on that path is the million-dollar (or billion dollar) question going forward.

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OPERATIONS

Lightstat’s Ron Eigenbrod dies of heart attack

BY Marianne Wilson

New York City — Ron Eigenbrod, founder & CEO of Lightstat Inc., Pleasant Valley, Conn., died suddenly at his New Hartford home on Christmas Eve of a heart attack. He was 59.

A New England native and graduate of the University of Connecticut, Eigenbrod founded Lightstat in 1983, with a simple setback thermostat for commercial applications. The company has grown steadily ever since, and now manufactures energy-saving thermostats for both residential and commercial applications, as well as automatic lighting control systems for commercial applications. Its customers include many of the nation’s retail chains.

A passionate conservationist and an active member of the New Hartford Land Trust, Eigenbrod spent much of his spare time outdoors, hiking, skiing, and working on his farm. He was a familiar and friendly presence at energy- and retail-industry events.

“He will be remembered as a bold and lively soul unencumbered by conventions or the elements, his kinetic and daring spirit always full of life. His absence will be felt, and his jovial personality will be missed,” stated the obituary that appeared in the Hartford Courant

Eigenbrod leaves his wife, Ginger (Panikoff) Eigenbrod, of New Hartford; his sister Roxanne Eigenbrod Zak and her husband Michael; his two nieces Adrienne and Marianna, and brother David McCarthy; and many other family members and friends.

Donations in Eigenbrod’s memory can be made to the New Hartford Land Trust or Animal Friends of Conn.

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P.Lopez says:
Apr-04-2013 06:54 pm

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He will be remembered as a bold and lively soul unencumbered by conventions or the elements, his kinetic and daring spirit always full of life. Chatrandom

P.Lopez says:
Apr-04-2013 06:54 pm

He will be remembered as a bold and lively soul unencumbered by conventions or the elements, his kinetic and daring spirit always full of life. Chatrandom

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