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Brookstone hires former HD exec as president and CEO

BY Brae Canlen

Specialty retailer Brookstone has hired Stephen Bebis as its new president and CEO, effective immediately.

Prior to joining Brookstone, Bebis spent 14 years as founder, president and CEO of Golf Town, the largest specialty golf retailer in Canada. Starting the business from scratch, Bebis grew Golf Town to 57 locations across Canada and led the expansion of the company into the Boston market last year with seven stores.

Bebis began his retailing career with Sears in store sales and management, and later moved into merchandising roles in 1976 with Grossman’s, a chain of 60 lumberyards in the Northeast that broke apart in 1996. Bebis joined Home Depot in 1984, where he grew revenues through the introduction of new merchandise categories.

After serving as the VP, general merchandise manager for Home Depot’s mid-southern division, Bebis in 1991 led the start-up of Aikenhead’s Home Improvement Warehouse in Toronto, Canada. As president and CEO, Bebis grew the company to 12 stores with 10 planned before selling Aikenhead’s in 1994 to Home Depot. After two years as president and CEO of Home Depot Canada, Bebis joined Jumbo Sports (formerly Sports and Recreation) in 1996 as president and CEO before launching Golf Town in 1998.

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Existing-home sales increased 3.4% in April

BY Ken Clark

According to the tally from the national Association of Realtors, there’s the beginning of a return to normalcy taking place across housing.

Existing-home sales in April rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.62 million, up 3.4% from a downwardly revised 4.47 million in March.

“It is no longer just the investors who are taking advantage of high affordability conditions.  A return of normal home buying for occupancy is helping home sales across all price points, and now the recovery appears to be extending to home prices,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “The general downtrend in both listed and shadow inventory has shifted from a buyers’ market to one that is much more balanced, but in some areas it has become a seller’s market.”

Compared with a year ago, existing home sales are up 10.0%.

The national median existing-home price for all housing types jumped 10.1% to $177,400 in April from a year ago; the March price showed an upwardly revised 3.1% annual improvement.

“This is the first time we’ve had back-to-back price increases from a year earlier since June and July of 2010 when the gains were less than one percent,” Yun said. 

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Change of directors at Sears Canada

BY Ken Clark

Just days after Sears Holdings announced plans to partially spin off its Canadian division, Sears Canada appointed a new board member and said goodbye to another. 

Sears Canada appointed Don Ross to its board of directors, effective immediately.  Ross is a partner at a prominent law firm in Toronto and is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada; the New York State Bar Association; and the Canadian, American and International Bar Associations.

Gone from the board is Deidra Merriwether, senior VP and president – retail services for Sears Holdings.

"The board of directors of Sears Canada is pleased to have attracted Mr. Ross to our Board," said William C. Crowley, chairman of the board, Sears Canada Inc.  "Mr. Ross brings extensive experience in both domestic and cross-border commercial matters, as well as in corporate governance, and the board welcomes such an esteemed lawyer, educator and author." 

Sears Holding said its partial spinoff will reduce the Hoffman Estates, Ill.-based Sears Holdings’ stake in Sears Canada from 95% to about 51%. Sears said it believes that the spinoff will permit each of Sears Canada and Holdings to focus on their respective businesses and allocate resources to best optimize returns on assets employed. 

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