OPERATIONS

Williams-Sonoma launches new brand of personalized gifts and accessories

BY Marianne Wilson

San Francisco — Williams-Sonoma said Thursday it has launched a new direct-to-consumer gifts and accessories brand called Mark and Graham. The brand will debut with its own direct mail catalog and website.

At the heart of the new brand, said the retailer, is complimentary monogramming and personalization on its products, with a choice of more than 50 custom monograms and creative type treatments. Every purchase comes with complimentary personalization, and arrives in a signature linen box finished with extra-wide grosgrain ribbon and a customizable gift card.

“I’m extremely proud to launch Mark and Graham, as it is an example of our innovative culture here at Williams-Sonoma, Inc.,” said Laura Alber, president and CEO, Williams-Sonoma, Inc. “One of the things that differentiates our company is our ability to incubate and launch new brands that can grow into substantial businesses. With Mark and Graham, our goal is to create a destination for beautiful, high-quality, thoughtful gifts that are personalized by the artful use of typography.”

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OPERATIONS

RILA to Obama: Without rules, employer-sponsored health care at risk

BY Staff Writer

Arlington, Va. – In a letter sent Thursday to President Barack Obama, RILA President Sandy Kennedy argued that the Administration’s failure in a timely manner to provide employers with formal guidance on the most basic of implementation rules for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) jeopardizes employer-sponsored healthcare coverage.

“RILA is extremely concerned that when formal guidance is finally released, employers will not have ample time to plan, budget and implement changes in order to comply with the new law,” said Kennedy.

While the law doesn’t take effect until January 2014, plan years beginning in early 2013 that transverse the ACA’s effective date are obligated to be in compliance. In some cases, the open enrollment period for such plans is under way now.

RILA raised similar concerns in a letter sent to President Obama in July. The association said it has engaged closely with the Administration in an effort to support and inform the complex rulemaking process. However, with no time left to reasonably comply with forthcoming implementation rules, transition relief is needed to allow employers to adapt existing benefits and design future benefits to comply with the law.

“RILA strongly urges the Administration to provide employers with transition relief with respect to the employer requirements under the ACA,” said Kennedy.

The letter included a sample of the many questions that employers need answered in order to ensure their health benefits comply with the new law.

The law is effective on January 1, 2014, yet there are no formal regulations for the employer requirements. How do employers with plan years that transverse January 1, 2014 comply, as 2013 plans are already in effect?

  • How will full-time employees be defined?
  • What is the definition of a seasonal employee?
  • What does it mean to make an “offer” of coverage? How are employers expected to demonstrate that they have “offered coverage?”
  • Who are “dependents?”

Click here to see the whole letter.

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OPERATIONS

CVS/pharmacy expands role of two field executives

BY Michael Johnsen

Woonsocket, R.I. — CVS/pharmacy on Thursday expanded the role of two retail field executives as senior VP operations Dennis Palmer, a 37-year retail veteran, announced his retirement.

Effective Nov. 5, Hanley Wheeler, SVP operations has assumed responsibility of CVS/pharmacy’s Western and Southwestern markets while continuing to have responsibility for the company’s retail operations in its Midwest and Southeast markets.

Assuming responsibility for CVS/pharmacy’s retail operations in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic is Kevin Hourican, SVP operations, who joined the CVS/pharmacy in June 2012 from Macy’s.

A pharmacist by training, Wheeler began his career at CVS/pharmacy in 1994 as an area VP. During his tenure at CVS and among his many accomplishments, Wheeler played a key role in the successful conversion of the acquired Osco and Sav-on stores, and led CVS/pharmacy’s organic growth into Chicago, Southern California, Las Vegas and Phoenix, as well as its entry into Puerto Rico, the company’s first market outside of the 50 U.S. states.

Prior to joining CVS/pharmacy, Hourican served as Macy’s SVP and Mid-Atlantic regional director of stores. He also served as Macy’s SVP direct-to-consumer logistics and worked for Sears from 1999 through 2006 in a series of increasingly responsible operational roles.

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