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Lowe’s eliminates roles of COO, chief customer officer amid leadership revamp

BY HBSDealer Staff

Lowe’s Companies is shaking things up with a new leadership structure that eliminates the positions of some high-ranking executives.

The announcement comes just seven days after Marvin R. Ellison, formerly head of J.C. Penney, officially began his duties as Lowe’s new president and CEO. Ellison replaced Robert Niblock, who announced his plans to step down as chief executive in late March after a 25-year career at the home improvement chain, including 13 years as chairman and CEO.

Richard Maltsbarger, COO, has left the company, effective immediately. Maltsbarger had been with the company since 2004, and became COO in February 2018.

Chief customer officer Michael McDermott, will leave Lowe’s effective Nov. 6, to pursue other interests, the company said. McDermott joined Lowe’s in 2014, and was promoted in 2016.

In addition to eliminating the COO and chief customer officer positions, Lowe’s will eliminate the positions of corporate administration executive and chief development officer. It is creating two new positions: executive VP, supply chain, and executive VP, stores.

The responsibilities that formerly fell under the positions being eliminated will be assumed by other senior leadership roles that will report directly to Ellison.

“We have taken a fresh look at our organizational structure and are realigning our leadership team to improve our focus, better leverage Lowe’s omnichannel capabilities and deliver increased value for our customers, associates and shareholders,” stated Ellison.

The roles involved in the new organizational structure include:

Executive VP, Merchandising: This role will be responsible for merchandising, marketing, digital, and data analytics and customer insights. William P. (Bill) Boltz has been named to the role, effective Aug. 15, 2018. He is currently the president and CEO of global power tool supplier Chervon North America.

In addition, Boltz previously held several leadership roles in merchandising at The Home Depot, including senior VP of hardlines. Prior to that, he was with Sears for more than 20 years.

Executive VP, Stores: The company has initiated an external search for this newly created role, which will oversee the North, South and West divisions, Orchard Supply Hardware, operations engineering, Pro and services businesses, and asset protection. The senior leaders of the store operations team will report to the CEO until an executive VP is named.

Executive VP, Supply Chain: This newly created role will oversee distribution centers, logistics, global sourcing, transportation and delivery services. Mike West, current senior VP, supply chain operations, will serve in the role on a transitional basis while an external search is underway.

Senior VP, Chief Information Officer: Paul D. Ramsay will remain in his current role as CIO.

Executive VP, Chief Financial Officer: As previously announced, Marshall A. Croom plans to retire from the company, effective Oct. 5, 2018. An external search is underway.

Executive VP, General Counsel & Corporate Secretary: Bill McCanless will remain in his current role as executive VP, general counsel and corporate secretary. Effective immediately, N. Brian Peace, senior VP, administration, will report to McCanless. Peace will take another role in the fall.

Executive VP, Human Resources: Jennifer L. Weber will remain in her current role as executive VP, human resources.

President & CEO, Canada: Sylvain Prud’homme will remain in his current role as president & CEO, Canada, where he will continue to oversee operations in Canada and Mexico.

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CEO confidence inches down; less optimistic about growth

BY Marianne Wilson

Chief executive officers’ confidence in the economy declined slightly in the second quarter, but overall sentiment still remains positive.

That’s according to The Conference Board’s Measure of CEO Confidence, which increased in the first quarter of 2018. The metric now reads 63, down from 65 in the first quarter of 2018 (a reading of more than 50 points reflects more positive than negative responses).

“CEOs’ optimism regarding the growth prospects for both mature and emerging economies have eased considerably since the beginning of the year,” said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at The Conference Board. “However, most CEOs expect profits will increase over the coming year, with market/demand growth and cost reductions the major driving forces.”

Looking ahead, the expectations of CEOs regarding the economic outlook are much less optimistic than last quarter. Now, just 48% expect economic conditions to improve over the next six months, compared to 63% in the second quarter. CEOs’ expectations regarding short-term prospects in their own industries over the next six months were relatively flat, with only 42% anticipating an improvement in conditions.

CEOs’ assessment of current economic conditions, however, was about the same as in the first quarter of 2018, with 74% saying conditions are better compared to six months ago. CEO sentiment was also virtually unchanged regarding the assessment of current conditions in their own industries, with about 51% saying conditions are better than six months ago.

CEOs are optimistic about profit expectations for the next twelve months, with about 91% expecting profits to increase, compared to 71% last year.

Among chief executive officers who expect profits to rise, 62% say market/demand growth will be the primary driving force, while 15% cite cost reductions and a similar proportion citing price increases. New technology is cited by 8% of CEOs as the primary source of improvement in profits.

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Barnes & Noble CEO fired for violating company policies

BY Marianne Wilson

Barnes & Noble provided some retail fireworks on the eve of July 4.

The nation’s largest bookstore chain said it has fired its CEO, Demos Parneros, for “violations of the company’s policies.” In a statement, Barnes & Noble did not offer any other details except to note Parneros’ termination was not due to any disagreement regarding its financial reporting, policies or practices or any potential fraud. It also said he will not receive any severance pay.

Parneros was tapped as CEO of the struggling chain in April 2017, the chain’s fourth CEO in four years. Prior to joining Barnes & Noble as COO in 2016, he was president of North American stores & online for Staples.

Barnes & Noble said it will begin its search for a new CEO and that “no changes in its goals or objectives are planned.” While the company searches for a new chief executive, it will be run by a leadership group that includes CFO Allen Lindstrom, chief merchandising officer Tim Mantel and VP of stores Carl Hauch. Leonard Riggio remains executive chairman and will also be involved in its management.

The retailer said the action was taken by the company’s board of directors, who were advised by the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP.

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