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AAFES exchanges military commander for civilian CEO

BY CSA STAFF

DALLAS — Three weeks after being named the first civilian director/CEO in the nearly 117-year history of the Army & Air Force Exchange Service, Tom Shull officially took the reins today of the $10-billion military retailer. Shull replaced the Exchange’s last uniformed Commander, Brig. Gen. Fran Hendricks.

With the official signing of the paperwork today, the Exchange has been disestablished as a major command and remains a joint nonappropriated fund instrumentality of the U.S. Army and the U.S. Air Force under the jurisdiction of the chief of staff of the U.S. Army and the chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force.

Shull, a West Point graduate who received a Harvard University MBA, served in a variety of positions in the U.S. Army, including infantry company commander and assignments at the White House and National Security Council. He has served as CEO of Wise Foods, Hanover Direct, Barney’s New York and was most recently CEO of Meridian Ventures.

Shull will work with an executive team led by the Exchange’s COO Mike Howard. Howard has been instrumental in maintaining continuity since March 2011 when the Secretary of Defense issued a memorandum on “Track Four Efficiency Initiatives Decisions” that were “designed to reduce duplication, overhead and excess, and instill a culture of savings and cost accountability across the Department of Defense.” In accordance with this memo, the Exchange was directed to convert the commanding general’s position from that of a Major General to a senior executive service civilian.

The Exchange, ranked 43rd in the National Retail Federation’s Top 100 retailers in the United States based on dollar sales, is responsible for more than 3,100 facilities worldwide in more than 30 countries, five U.S. territories and 50 states. The Exchange operates 180 main stores and more than 2,000 fast food restaurants, and also provides military communities with convenience, specialty stores and movie theaters on installations worldwide.
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Promotional activity contributing to comps

BY CSA STAFF

Walmart in May continued its heightened level of advertising activity, hitting the market with an increased number of circulars that contained more pages. For a look at how Walmart’s promotional activity stacked up to other leading retailers, click here to see the last monthly data from Market Track.

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Big-box shoppers wonder if concerns are heard

BY CSA STAFF

TORONTO — A study of big-box retail consumers, released Thursday, found that only two in five consumers believe that retailers value their input, and just 29% believe it is acted upon.

According to the Consumer Insights Panel survey conducted by customer experience management solution provider Empathica Inc., 85% of the 6,500 consumers surveyed have provided some form of feedback to big-box retailers, yet only 46% believe that brands actually use this feedback to make constructive changes to the customer experience.

In addition, only 52% believe that feedback is shared with individual locations – even though the majority of consumers (81%) feel that feedback should not only be shared with local managers, but with all of the brand’s employees.

The shortfall of confidence in brands’ willingness to implement changes rooted in customer feedback is a serious concern for retailers, said Empathica. In fact, 83% of consumers agree or strongly agree that they would be more loyal to a brand if they knew the brand would act on their feedback.

“Our research proves that consumers really do want to provide feedback and engage in conversations with brands,” said Dr. Gary Edwards, chief customer officer, Empathica. “But at the same time, they are clearly disappointed by not having any visibility into what happens afterwards. Feedback remains a one-way street and what consumers are yearning for is two-way dialogue. They want to know that their feedback is being acted upon in ways that will drive meaningful changes to the customer experience at the locations they frequent.”

The Empathica Consumer Insights Panel also revealed key insights into the motivations and delivery methods that drive customer feedback. Not surprisingly, an overwhelming two-thirds of consumers prefer to share feedback online. The next most popular feedback delivery method was in person, but this was reported by only 13% of consumers.

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