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Mattress Firm taps retail vet to head up merchandising

BY Marianne Wilson

The nation’s largest specialty mattress retailer has tapped a retailer experienced in the business of sleep as chief merchandising officer.

Mattress Firm named Lorie Silva as CMO. She previously held the role of director of bedding operations for Jordan’s Furniture, where she was responsible for the entire operation of bedding, including sourcing, sales, training and retail experience with strong ties to customer service, operations and logistics. Silvia joined Jordan’s in 1991, and took on increasing responsibility.

“Lorie is a proven groundbreaker who led successful merchandising and retail efforts at Jordan’s Furniture,” said Steve Stagner, executive chairman, president and CEO, Mattress Firm, which operates more than 3,000 stores nationwide. “She has a keen understanding of what it takes for a product to sell – from identifying consumer needs to educating associates to communicating product benefits.”

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Avenue Stores names new CEO

BY Marianne Wilson

Avenue Stores has tapped a veteran retailer as its next chief executive.

The women’s plus-size apparel and accessories retailer appointed Mark Walsh as CEO, effective. He succeeds Liz Williams, who has served in the position since April 2012, and is credited with helping to re-energize the brand.

“Under Liz Williams, Avenue has been one of our most successful investments,” said Gregory L. Segall of Versa Capital Management, the private-equity owner of Avenue. “She transformed the company from a stagnant retailer with many underutilized assets into a profitable omnichannel enterprise, achieving substantial success in the face of challenging and changing retail market conditions.”

New CEO Walsh is a board member who began advising the company last year. His previous experience include roles as CEO of Bob’s Stores and Eastern Mountain Sports, group president of Liz Claiborne, and executive VP of e-commerce and strategic planning at J. Crew Group. He has also held executive positions in marketing and finance for Citibank, N.A. and Pepsico.

“We are delighted to welcome Mark Walsh, a veteran operator of brand name retail franchises, to Avenue,” said Segall. “Having worked closely with Mark over the years, we have first-hand knowledge of his ability to collaboratively lead organizations and grow businesses, and the board is confident he is an excellent choice to lead Avenue as it pursues its next stage of growth and enhanced profitability.”

During the past six months, Avenue has transformed its management team, including the appointments of Nancy Viall as chief merchandising officer and Steven Silbaugh as chief marketing officer in November 2017. Most recently, the retailer named Scott Hampson as COO and David Rhoads as CFO.

“With the renewed leadership team in place, it’s the right time for me to step back, while being confident the company is in Mark’s capable hands,” said Williams.

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H-E-B gives digital exec a dual role

BY Marianne Wilson

The growing importance of digital in grocery retailing is reflected in H-E-B’s newest appointment.

The supermarket retailer, which ranks as the largest private employer in Texas, has appointed Jag Bath to the newly created position of chief digital officer, overseeing all of the company’s digital products and services. Bath will continue in his current role as CEO of Favor Delivery, the on demand delivery service founded in 2013 that is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of H-E-B. In his dual role, Bath will report to H-E-B COO Martin Otto.

“Jag is a leading national figure in the digital space and this appointment reflects the central importance of building out H-E-B’s omnichannel service to meet customers’ evolving needs and expectations,” Otto said. “Our primary goal is to enable our customers to shop, pay for and receive their products in whatever way they choose – all while delivering an exceptional customer experience.”

H-E-B has been steadily increasing its digital presence. Its offerings include HEBtoyou Delivery and H-E-B Curbside, which is available in over 100 locations and is on track to reach 200 locations in 2018.

“I’m excited to take on this new role as we accelerate H-E-B’s efforts to become the digital industry leader in Texas,” said Bath. “The investment we are making is reflective of the importance of building out new digital products and services to complement H-E-B’s world-class brick-and-mortar stores.”

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