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NACDS reveals keynote speaker for Total Store Expo

BY Antoinette Alexander

ARLINGTON, Va. — The National Association of Chain Drug Stores has announced that television journalist and author Tom Brokaw will offer the keynote address during the upcoming 2015 NACDS Total Store Expo.

Brokaw, whose latest book “A Lucky Life Interrupted” chronicles a year spent battling cancer and reflecting on his life, will speak during the trade show’s Business Program on Aug. 23 at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver.

“Tom Brokaw’s name is synonymous with the delivery of compelling national and world news,” NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson said. “His groundbreaking reports and specials helped bring the realities of global and national issues into the homes of Americans every evening. We look forward to hearing about his experiences in telling the news over the last several decades, as well as his more personal life lessons in battling cancer as shared in his powerful new memoir.”

Brokaw has spent his entire career in journalism with NBC News. He began at the Los Angeles bureau in 1966 where he covered Ronald Reagan’s first run for office, the assassination of Bobby Kennedy and the 1968 presidential campaign.  After serving as White House correspondent in Washington during Watergate, he joined the “Today Show” in New York, and later became the anchor and managing editor of “NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw.”
   
Among his many journalistic achievements, Brokaw conducted the very first interview with former Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev and was the only American network anchor to report from Berlin the night before the Berlin wall came down.

In addition to his daily news gathering responsibilities, Brokaw reported on more than 30 documentaries covering subjects ranging from AIDS, Los Angeles gangs, race, education, medicine, immigration and global warming.  

Among his many accolades, Brokaw has won every major award in journalism, including Peabody, DuPonts, Emmys and lifetime achievement recognition. In 2014, President Barack Obama awarded Brokaw with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

In 1998, Brokaw published his first book, “The Greatest Generation.” He followed that with five other books, including “BOOM! Voices Of The Sixties” and “The Time Of Our Lives.”

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Sears Holdings says transformation on track

BY Mike Troy

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. — The retail industry is accustomed to weak same-store sales at Sears and Kmart, but the magnitude of the decline the company experienced in the first quarter was large even by its standards.
 
Same-store sales declined 14.5% at Sears and 7% at Kmart during the first quarter ended May 2. The company said the decline was driven by “more efficient and targeted promotional and marketing spend, and a focus on sizing certain categories, such as consumer electronics, to better fit member needs, that together generated higher margins and increased profitability year-over-year. Revenues were also impacted by port issues on the West Coast.”
 
The comp decline coupled with store closures and the separation of the Sears Canada and Lands’ End businesses caused the company’s total revenues to fall by $2 billion to $5.9 billion. A net loss of $303 million, or $2.85 a share, while massive, was less than a prior year loss of $402 million, or $3.79 a share. The magnitude of the loss is less severe when viewed more narrowly in terms of EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) and adjusted to exclude non-recurring expenses. Adjusted EBITDA was a negative $141 million company compared to a negative $171 million.
 
Undaunted by the ongoing comp declines and lack of profits, Sears Holdings’ chairman and CEO, Edward Lampert, maintains that the company’s master plan is intact.
 
“During the first quarter, we made significant progress in our transformation from a traditional, store-network based retail business model to a more asset-light, member-centric integrated retailer leveraging our Shop Your Way platform,” Lampert said.
 
Shop Your Way is the name of the company’s loyalty program whose members now account for nearly three-fourths of sales at Sears and Kmart stores.
 
“As our improved EBITDA results over the last three consecutive quarters demonstrate, we are successfully enhancing our margin rates and EBITDA performance as we become more efficient with our promotional programs and the use of Shop You Way to replace more traditional forms of marketing with targeted and personalized digital interactions,” Lampert said. “With the completion of the joint venture transactions with three leading shopping mall owners and operators, and the advanced formation of the Seritage REIT, we will become more productive with our physical store space. This will position Sears Holdings for long-term success consistent with our focus on our best stores, rewarding our best members and pursuing our best categories to transform Sears Holdings into a leading integrated retail membership-focused company leveraging our Shop Your Way platform."
 
A key aspect of Sears Holdings’ transformation involves unlocking the value of real estate assets through creative deals that give the company greater liquidity.
 
“We continue to make progress towards the formation of Seritage Growth Properties, a public real estate investment trust or REIT, and its subsequent purchase of properties from the company,” said Rob Schriesheim, Sears Holdings’ CFO. “We expect that we will be declared effective by the SEC this week, and are targeting to launch the rights offering on Friday, June 12, 2015, which, if successful, will result in $2.6 billion in cash proceeds to Sears Holdings. When combined with the previously announced joint ventures, this will total $3 billion in cash realized.”
 
Had the REIT transaction closed in the first quarter, Shriesheim said the company would have had cash balances of $2.3 billion and availability under its credit facility of more than $1.1 billion.
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Food Lion launches revamped site

BY Antoinette Alexander

SALISBURY, N.C. — Food Lion has launched a new website designed to make shopping, saving and planning for dinner easy for shoppers.

The new website, built based on customer feedback, offers shoppers a personalized experience when they log in. Each customer's personalized dashboard includes their savings for the year and other relevant information and offers. The newly launched site is also fully responsive, meaning it is easy for customers to use whether they are accessing the site via a computer, tablet or phone.

The new website also contains new features for customers. One of the biggest enhancements, aimed at helping customers plan for dinner, is the addition of an online Recipe Portal, which features customer-generated recipes that shoppers can save and rate based on their experience. A new virtual shopping list enables customers to plan grocery trips weeks or even months out by keeping an ongoing list, as well as creating new ones for special occasions.

Customers can also Food Lion’s weekly flyer to add sale items to their lists to take advantage of the week's best deals. In addition, a more robust MVP Coupon Hub provides customers with access to more than 150 relevant coupons that customers can load directly to their MVP Savings card or print at home.

According to the company, additional enhancements to foodlion.com will continue to roll out for customers in the coming months.

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