Walgreens in pilot of vision care center
Walgreens Boots Alliance is piloting a retail vision care center within the Walgreens flagship in the Wrigley Building in Chicago, the company recently revealed, taking what has been a successful page out of its U.K.-based Boots Pharmacy division and applying that strategy to the U.S. market.
"Walgreens believes vision care, combining health and fashion, has potential as an expanded offering as it strives to be America’s most-loved pharmacy-led health, well-being and beauty retailer," Walgreens spokesman Jim Graham told Drug Store News, a sister publication of Chain Store Age. "At present we are piloting just one store and will use that experience to determine the timing and location of any similar, potential future store enhancements."
In the United Kingdom, Boots actually is one of the leaders in the optical market with 636 practices, Walgreens Boots Alliance reported, of which 182 operate on a franchise basis. Approximately 30% of these optical practices are located in Boots stores with the balance being standalone optical practices.
Walgreens may be taking a similar approach in Chicago, as the services at Walgreens Optical are being provided by an independently owned company whose licensed healthcare professionals are not employed by Walgreens.
The new Walgreens Optical offers comprehensive eye exams from fully-licensed optometrists and opticians, advanced lenses from leading companies and a full selection of frames and price points.
Iconix Brand unloads Sharper Image
Iconix Brand Group has sold the rights to the Sharper Image brand and related intellectual property assets to the company that recently bought FAO Schwarz from Toys “R” Us.
Iconix sold Sharper Image to ThreeSixty Group, which manufactures and distributes toys and other consumer products to stores nationwide, for $100 million in cash. ThreeSixty is also Sharper Image’s largest licensee.
Sharper Image filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2008 and subsequently closed its stores nationwide. It continued to sell online and through other retailers. In 2011, Sharper Image’s brand and intellectual property assets were acquired by Iconix for $65.6 million in cash.
"Sharper Image is a strong and widely recognized brand, however, consistent with the vision we outlined during our recent investor day, Sharper Image did not fit into our go-forward strategy,” said John Haugh, CEO of Iconix. “After careful consideration, we determined that we could better leverage our resources and generate greater returns by focusing on other areas of the business.”
Haugh said the sale generates a significant return on Iconix’s investment, and allows the company to make “progress on de-levering the balance sheet, which is a top priority.”
Sharper Image is the second brand that Iconix sold this year. In March, the company sold Badgley Mischka.
Iconix owns, licenses and markets a portfolio of consumer brands including Candie’s, Joe Boxer, Rampage, Mossimo, Danskin, London Fog and Fieldcrest and many others.
Teen apparel retailer firms up executive suite with two new positions
Rue 21 has added the positions of COO and chief marketing officer to its executive roster.
The chain has promoted Dirk Armstrong to COO. Armstrong has been with rue21 for nearly five years and was formerly senior VP and director of stores. Previously, he served as senior VP, director of stores at Ann Taylor and regional director at Gap Inc.
In his new role as COO, Armstrong will focus on two key priorities, starting with driving the strategic vision of rue21’s brick-and-mortar locations and managing the 21,000 field employees across its 1,217 stores. He will also be leading the strategy that will transform the company’s girls department in-store experience to meet the girls’ merchandise transformation.
In other appointments, Brett Trent has been tapped for the newly created position of chief marketing officer at rue21. Trent has spent the past two years in the roles of chief digital officer and prior to that, senior VP of digital retail.
He brings more than 20 years of experience leveraging digital in conjunction with traditional retail marketing as the former VP of ecommerce at Ascena Retail Group, Charming Shoppes, and Goody’s. In his new role at rue21, Mr. Trent will unite the customer-facing capabilities and technology resources born within rue21’s digital platform into the customer-centric, brand vision of the marketing department.
“We’re excited to have both Dirk and Brett moving forward in these new roles for the company,” said Keith McDonough, Interim CEO at rue21. “We have clear goals in 2017 to transform the customer experience and Girls’ merchandise offering, while being completely customer-centric, and we could not have two better leaders on our team supporting this transformation.”