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Walgreens names chief customer experience officer, promotes three executives

BY Allison Cerra

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens announced several executive appointments Monday, which included naming a former United Airlines executive to the post of chief customer experience officer.

The drug store chain said that effective Jan. 24, Graham Atkinson — former president of United Airlines’ Mileage Plus — would be responsible for developing and leading the company’s loyalty strategies, with a specific emphasis on the customer experience, as Walgreens’ SVP and chief customer experience officer. Atkinson will report to Greg Wasson, Walgreens’ president and CEO.

“With Graham’s 20-year career in marketing, customer experience, sales and operations at United, he brings valuable insight into driving customer loyalty both through marketing programs and in a complex business where employees are the true ambassadors for the brand,” Wasson said. “We look forward to that perspective, as we continue to develop our approach to loyalty in our stores and across our organization.”

In line with the announcement, Walgreens also said it was boosting its leadership roles, naming current SVP e-commerce Sona Chawla to president of the e-commerce division. Chawla will help Walgreens expand beyond its brick-and-mortar reach, Wasson said.

Meanwhile, Walgreens’ corporate VP accounting and controller was promoted to SVP accounting and controller. “Under Mia’s leadership, the company has continued a standard of excellence in finance and accounting stewardship as well as embarked on the largest accounting organizational transformation in Walgreens history,” said Wade Miquelon, EVP and CFO. “Her financial acumen, critical analysis and careful decision-making are essential to the ongoing success of the company’s financial departments.”

Robert Zimmerman, who as VP corporate development for Walgreens lead the company in such key transactions as the Duane Reade acquisition last April, has been named SVP and chief strategy officer.

“[Zimmerman’s] keen insight and thoughtful counsel are critical to the continued evolution of our business strategy,” Miquelon said.

The appointments come at the heels of the drug store chain’s annual shareholders meeting, in which Walgreens unveiled several innovations that will be implemented in 2011 and beyond.

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Sears Holdings unveils year-end outlook

BY DSN STAFF

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. — Sears Holdings released its year-end outlook for the fiscal year 2010 ending Jan. 29.

For the full year, the company expects a net income of $210 million, with a fourth-quarter income expectation of between $370 million and $450 million, offsetting the company’s past two quarterly losses.

The company also posted up-to-date comparable-store sales for both its Sears Domestic and Kmart stores.

For the quarter-to-date, comparable-store sales for its Sears stores were down 5.3%, with Kmart stores seeing an increase of 3.4%.

For the year-to-date comparable-store sales, Sears saw a decline of 3.8%, with Kmart seeing a 0.8% increase.

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Retail sales rise in December

BY Allison Cerra

WASHINGTON — Retail sales rose for a sixth consecutive month in December, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Sales rose 0.6% from the prior month, the Census Bureau reported Friday. However, the increase pushed sales for all of 2010 up 6.7%, the largest annual increase since 1999. Excluding autos, retail sales rose 0.5% last month.

Grocery stores experienced a 2.3% upswing from 2009, bringing its 2010 sales to $525.5 million, while health and personal care stores saw a rise of 3.8% from 2009, totaling $264.1 million for the year. And while advance estimates are not available for pharmacies and drug stores, the Census Bureau last reported that November sales rose to about $18.75 million, a slight jump from about $18.7 million in October.

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