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Sears names supermarket veteran Michel chief of food, health and pharmacy efforts

BY Jim Frederick

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. — Fast on the heels of her departure from Ahold USA’s Giant Foods of Landover supermarket unit, Robin Michel has been tapped for an increasingly critical role at retail giant Sears Holdings. Michel, who left as president of Giant-Landover in December 2010, will serve as SVP and president of food and consumables, health and beauty and pharmacy at Sears and its Kmart subsidiary.

Michel is charged with “the oversight, leadership and growth both in-store and online” of those categories, which have become key to the company’s effort to regain its momentum in the U.S. marketplace. She comes well-prepared for the task: At Giant-Landover, she was credited by Ahold USA Retail CEO Carl Schlicker for leading a successful turnaround campaign at the chain, which operates 180 supermarkets and food-drug combo stores in Maryland, Virginia, Delaware and the District of Columbia.

“Robin brings to the company a wealth of expertise in the grocery and pharmacy industry, and we are excited to welcome her to our team,” said Bruce Johnson, Sears interim CEO and president. “Under Robin’s leadership, we’ll be able to uniquely serve our customers by providing them greater value in all areas of health — including wellness, lifestyle, diet and nutrition — while offering [more than] 1,000 pharmacy locations nationwide.”

Those locations are part of Sears’ sprawling Kmart division, which has struggled to regain ground lost to archrival Walmart. Despite Walmart’s stunning ascendancy over the past two decades, Kmart retains a place among the nation’s top retailers of pharmacy and health and beauty aids, and likely will benefit from the infusion of new management and new ideas brought by the supermarket industry veteran.

Michel has held senior leadership roles with some of the industry’s top food and pharmacy retailers, including Roundy’s Supermarkets, 7-Eleven and H-E-B. She started her career with Kroger, progressing from store director to regional VP.

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Tony Fisher named Target Canada president

BY Allison Cerra

MINNEAPOLIS — After announcing that its chief marketing officer would serve as the executive committee sponsor of Target’s entrance into the Canadian market, the retailer named a leader for its Target Canada operations.

As president of Target Canada, Tony Fisher will be responsible for building the retailer’s team, establishing the headquarters and leading the day-to-day operations. Target said it expects to open 100 to 150 Target stores throughout Canada in 2013 and 2014. Prior to this position, Tony Fisher was promoted to VP merchandise operations.

"Tony has a strong sense of Target’s unique culture, merchandising strategy and brand, and a proven record of delivering results," said Michael Francis, chief marketing officer of Target Corporation and executive committee sponsor of Target Canada. "His positive energy, broad merchandise experience and keen understanding of what differentiates Target in the retail industry make Tony well-suited for this new role and position Target for success in Canada."

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NRF urges repeal of healthcare-reform law

BY DSN STAFF

WASHINGTON — The National Retail Federation announced that it has urged the House to support a vote to repeal last year’s healthcare-reform law, saying the measure already has begun to discourage job creation and should be replaced with legislation that reduces healthcare costs while protecting jobs.

“The previous Congress’ healthcare-reform debate was highly — and in our opinion, unnecessarily — divisive,” NRF VP and employee benefits policy counsel Neil Trautwein said. “The retail industry proposed and strongly supported comprehensive healthcare reform that would reduce healthcare costs and extend coverage to the uninsured. Instead, Congress enacted — over the business community’s strong objections — a reform law that will fail to reduce healthcare costs and will impose penalty mandates on employers in 2014 that are already deterring job growth today at the expense of tomorrow’s economy.”

Trautwein’s comments came in a letter to speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, minority leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and all other members of the House. The House began debating on H.R. 2, the “Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act,” and is scheduled to vote Wednesday on that bill plus a resolution that would instruct committees to begin developing substitute legislation.

Trautwein noted that NRF has worked closely with the Obama administration on steps to smooth implementation of the law, such as a November agreement that will allow limited benefit “mini-med” plans provided to employees by some retailers and restaurants to continue in operation at least through 2011. Without the agreement, the 1.4 million workers covered by such plans could have been left without coverage until insurance “exchanges” are established in 2014.

“Nonetheless, we are convinced that the health-reform law is, on the whole, misplaced and will hazard future job and economic growth,” Trautwein said. “We strongly support this effort to repeal and replace the health-reform law with more job-friendly healthcare reform that will concentrate first on reducing the cost of medical care.”

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