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News Briefs

  • 1/29/2024

    CEO of Office Depot parent company to return after medical leave

    Office Depot

    The ODP Corporation has provided a leadership update.

    ODP, whose operating companies nclude Office Depot and Office Max, ODP Business Solutions and Varis, Inc, said that, following his temporary medical leave, Gerry Smith will resume his position as CEO effective February 1, 2024. Upon his return, Joseph S. Vassalluzzo, who had been appointed by the company’s board to assume Smith’s authority and responsibilities during his medical leave, will return to his sole role as independent non-executive chairman of the board.

    “I would like to thank everyone for the support they showed during my leave, and especially to Joe for stepping in and leading the company during my absence,” said Smith. “I am very excited about returning to the helm, and eager to continue driving our corporate transformation and maximizing value for our stakeholders.”

    In addition, David Szymanski, a member of ODP’s board, notified the company of his intention to retire from the board, effective February 13. Szymanski has served as a director of the company and its predecessor, OfficeMax Incorporated, since 2004.

    “It has been a pleasure for me to serve on ODP’s Board over the last decade,” Szymanski said, “With the company well positioned for future growth, and supported by an exceptional leadership team, I feel that now is the right time for me to step aside and provide others with the opportunity to participate and contribute to this great company as it moves forward.”

  • 1/29/2024

    Survey: Marketers fear losing audience share on social media

    social media icons on phone

    A large number of marketers are concerned about losing access to their brand or retailer’s fans on social media.

    According to a new survey from marketing platform Tint, 60% of marketers are worried about losing reach due to increasing fragmentation, dissatisfaction with platform content and changes in social media algorithms.

    A large majority (82%) of consumers are more likely to purchase new product varieties because of an online brand community. In addition, 69% of consumers prefer to purchase brands that they interact with in an online community. The same percentage of consumers say the brands they buy reflect who they are and are important to how they want to be perceived.

    Consumers continue to participate in online discourse, with 40% of consumers saying their involvement in online communities will increase in 2024. However, only 28% of marketers currently have a dedicated online brand community distinct from social media. 

    Tint found that 47% of brand marketers surveyed already own or are in the process of building an online brand community distinct from social media. A vast majority (85%) of marketers believe having a branded online community positively impacts core operations.

    "2024 is the year of owned brand communities and Zero Party Data," said Sameer Kamat, Tint CEO. "We have seen how quickly social platforms can change and fall out of favor. Brands are taking back their relationships with consumers."

  • 1/29/2024

    Michaels enters educational purchasing partnership

    Michaels

    Creative supplies retailer Michaels has announced a new purchasing partnership in Texas that will allow public schools and organizations to order items in bulk.

    Michaels has been awarded the new Educational School Supplies cooperative contract through OMNIA Partners by Region 4 Education Service Center (Region 4), one of 20 regional education service centers in Texas.

    The publicly solicited cooperative contract enables public schools, organizations, or other eligible agencies registered with OMNIA Partners to shop more than 300,000 items through the MichaelsPro Education website and receive cost benefits including low minimums and free standard shipping on orders over $49. According to its website, Region 4 serves an eight-county area comprised of 48 public school districts and 41 open-enrollment charter schools.

    “Central to our mission at MichaelsPro Education is making it easier and more affordable for schools to purchase everything they need to infuse creativity into their curriculum and cultivate vibrant learning spaces,” said Bryan Waugaman, director of education and B2B sales at Michaels. “Through our agreement with OMNIA Partners, we’re enabling districts and teachers to spend less time thinking about the supply procurement process and more time fostering their students’ creativity and growth.”

    Headquartered in Irving, Texas, Michaels operates over 1,290 stores in 49 states and Canada.

  • 1/26/2024

    Kirkland’s secures additional debt financing

    Kirklands

    Kirkland’s has secured additional debt financing to support its strategic repositioning efforts.

    The specialty retailer of home décor and furnishings said it has entered into a supplemental credit facility on Jan. 25, 2024, which will increase its available credit by up to $12 million.  Kirkland's Home secured the financing through a new first-in last-out, asset-based, delayed-draw term loan facility. 

    The new facility is in addition to the company's existing $90 million asset-based revolving credit facility. Proceeds from the new facility, when drawn, will be used to provide additional liquidity for ongoing working capital needs. As of closing, the company's combined credit availability under both credit agreements was approximately $21.5 million.

    "As we move into 2024, we are pleased to have access to additional capital to further bolster our liquidity position,” said CFO Mike Madden. “The additional capital provides us with sufficient room to continue executing our strategic repositioning, while giving us the ability to accelerate components of our strategy aimed at returning the company to historical levels of performance."

    Earlier this month, the retailer promoted Amy Sullivan to CEO, effective Feb. 5. She is the company’s first female chief executive.

    “Since transitioning to an executive leadership role, Amy has been integral to the execution of our repositioning strategy and we believe, as CEO, she is poised to return Kirkland’s Home to profitable growth over the long-term,” said R. Wilson Orr, chairman of Kirkland’s Home.

    Kirkland's operates 338 stores in 35 states as well as an e-commerce website under the Kirkland's Home brand.  

  • 1/25/2024

    Content creator marketing continues to gain traction with younger consumers

    social media

    Content creators and influencers are continuing to impact what consumers, particularly from Gen Z, are choosing to buy.

    According to a new report from creator commerce platform LTK, consumers’ trust in creators rose by 21% from last year. More than half (56%) of all consumers surveyed now buy from creators, marking a 64% increase from the previous year. Across all generations, creators now rank as the No. 1 trusted source over social media ads and celebrities.

    Among Gen Z and Millennials, 66% actively shop and make purchases through creators, while Gen Z is three-times more likely to say they trust the words of creators over traditional brand advertisements. Even higher numbers of younger consumers (69% of Gen Z and 71% of Millennials) report a higher likelihood of exploring brands or products after engaging with creator content, finding it more inspirational than direct brand content.

    Consumers expressed a desire to engage with creator content beyond just social media. More than one-third (34%) of consumers said they want to see creator content on TV, followed by in-store and display ads.

    Brands are taking note of the shift towards content creator-led promotion. According to a previous LTK survey, 92% of brands stated influencer marketing will have higher budgets or an increased role in their marketing strategy in 2024. 

    “This report underscores the pivotal role creators will continue to play in shaping consumer behavior across all generations - creating a new consumer journey,” said Rodney Mason, VP and head of marketing, brand platform at LTK. “Creators have become a valuable asset for brands - influencing every phase from sparking  inspiration to guiding purchase decisions and fostering brand loyalty.” 

    LTK’s national shopper study conducted in December 2023 with 1,104 participants.

  • 1/24/2024

    Done Deal: Southeastern Grocers spins off Hispanic banner

    Southeastern Grocers

    Southeastern Grocers Inc. (SEG) has shed one of its banner.

    The company has completed the divestiture of Fresco y Más to the Coral Gables, Fla.-based Fresco Retail Group, specializing in the food and grocery industries. The 28 Fresco y Más stores will continue to operate under the same name.

    As previously announced in August, SEG entered into definitive agreements with Aldi and Fresco Retail Group to effectuate a comprehensive strategic divestiture of its businesses. Under the proposed merger agreement, Aldi will acquire all outstanding SEG capital stock in an all-cash transaction, which encompasses all SEG grocery operations under the Harveys Supermarket and Winn-Dixie banners.

    EG currently anticipates that the proposed merger with Aldi will be completed in the first half of 2024. The company will continue to operate its Harveys Supermarket and Winn-Dixie grocery stores up to and until the transactions are completed. This includes approximately 400 stores in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida where 75% of the stores are located.

    “The successful sale of Fresco y Más marks an important milestone on our path forward,” said Anthony Hucker, President and CEO of Southeastern Grocers"As we continue to lead our Harveys Supermarket and Winn-Dixie stores, we remain focused on being the Most Preferred Grocer in the Neighborhood and delivering an exceptional grocery shopping experience complete with the quality, service and value our customers and communities have come to expect.”

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