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GNC’s top merchant, a former Target vet, takes key role at Barnes & Noble

BY Marianne Wilson

Barnes & Noble has appointed a new chief merchandising officer.

The struggling bookseller named Timothy Mantel to the position, effective immediately. Mantel, who will be responsible for driving sales and profitability in all areas of merchandising within the company, succeeds Mary Amicucci, who left Barnes & Noble in September 2017 after 20 months on the job.

Most recently, Mantel served as chief merchandising officer for GNC Corp., where he led a $2.6 billion product portfolio and helped relaunch the company’s business model. Mantel, who joined GNC in February 2016, also worked to streamline and reinvigorate GNC’s owned brand portfolio positioning.

Prior to GNC, Mantel spent 21 years at Target Corp, from 1994 to 2015, most recently as senior VP, food, household essentials and food service. He had previously served as president of Target Sourcing services. He also held various positions from business analyst to buyer and merchandise planning director early in his career.

Barnes & Noble has been struggling to reverse its sagging fortunes. Sales during the past holiday season fell 6.4% over the previous year amid declining store traffic. In November, the retailer said it would focus more on books and less on gifts and toys and explore reducing tis store size.

“We are thrilled that Tim will be taking on the important role of chief merchandising officer for Barnes & Noble,” said Demos Parneros, CEO of Barnes & Noble. “His deep knowledge of retail and proven track record are exactly what we need to invigorate our merchandising strategy and grow our business. He will be a great addition to our management team.”

Barnes & Noble operates 632 Barnes & Noble bookstores in 50 states.

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C-suite turmoil at GameStop

BY Marianne Wilson

GameStop has fired two of its top executives just days after it appointed a new chief executive.

The videogame retailer disclosed in a regulatory filing on Friday that it has terminated the employment of COO Tony Bartel and executive VP of strategic business and brand development, Michael Hogan, effective immediately. In the filing, the company said the terminations were without cause and both executives will receive payment and benefits as provided in their contracts.

The firings come on the heels of the appointment of GameStop veteran Michael K. Mauler as CEO. Mauler, who most recently served as served as executive VP and president of international, was named to succeed Paul Raines, who is undergoing medical treatment. He resigned from all duties at the company last week in order to focus on his health and family.

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Analysts: Former Ralph Lauren CEO lead candidate for top spot at Lululemon

BY Marianne Wilson

Is Stefan Larsson poised to return to the retail arena?

The surprising departure of Laurent Potdevin as CEO of Lululemon Athletica Inc. will result in the return of a former star to the retail scene.

“In our view, the lead candidate is Stefan Larsson, the former CEO of Ralph Lauren,” Canaccord Genuity analysts led by Camilo Lyon wrote in a report. “Mr. Larsson’s one-year non-compete ends on May 1, 2018.”

Larsson took the reins at Ralph Lauren Corp.in November 2015, and left the company after less than two years on the job following creative disagreements with company founder Ralph Lauren. He arrived at Lauren from Gap Inc., where he served as global president of Old Navy. Prior to that, he was with fast-fashion giant H&M, which he is credited with helping to turn into a global retail powerhouse.

In its report, Canaccord said it expected Glen Murphy, who has been given the newly expanded role of executive chairman of Lululemon, to play an active role in the brand’s hunt for a new CEO. It noted that Larsson’s tenure at Old Navy occurred while Murphy was CEO of Gap Inc.

The Canaccord analysts said that while the root cause of Potdevine’s departure was not explicitly stated, Lululemon noted that he fell short of meeting the highest levels of integrity and respect for one another.

“Judging by this specific language, we can only assume there were claims of inappropriate behavior,” the analysts wrote. “To the board’s credit, it appears that it has moved quickly to quarantine any public fallout that could have ensued if details were to have been made public.”

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