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Sears CEO says company is on the mend

BY HBSDEALER Staff

The Chicago Tribune reported Sears Holdings Corp. CEO Louis D’Ambrosio supplied a strong dose of optimism at the Hoffman Estates, Ill.-based retailer’s annual meeting, the day after the company warned of falling sales.

Ahead of the meeting, the company reported a same-store sales decline of 3.6% for its fiscal first quarter, which included a 1.6% decrease at its Kmart stores and a 5.2% decrease at its Sears Domestic stores. According to the company, the comps decline was driven by poor performances in appliances, apparel and consumer electronics. The decline was offset by strong performances in home, sporting goods, jewelry and footwear.

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RILA hires former AMA lobbyist

BY HBSDEALER Staff

The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) has hired Christine Pollack as its new VP government relations, focusing on healthcare policy and serving as one of RILA’s lead advocates on core retail industry priorities.

Pollack previously served as assistant director of congressional affairs for the American Medical Association (AMA), where she was a central figure in the debate on healthcare reform. Prior to joining the AMA in 2007, Pollack served as legislative director for Congressman Clay Shaw (R-FL), overseeing healthcare, tax and social security policy for the senior member of the Ways and Means Committee. Earlier in her career, Pollack served as a health insurance specialist with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and as senior legislative assistant for Congressman Jim Nussle (R-IA).

Based in Arlington, Va., RILA is a trade association representing more than 200 retailers, product manufacturers and service suppliers, which together account for more than $1.5 trillion in annual sales, millions of American jobs and more than 100,000 stores, manufacturing facilities and distribution centers domestically and abroad.

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Valspar paint giveaway: a ‘sell out’

BY HBSDEALER Staff

There’s nothing like “free paint” to catch consumers’ attention, as Valspar learned during its recent “Power in Color” campaign. According to an article in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal, the manufacturer handed out 100,000 free paint-sample kits during the first 100 days of 2011, or 1,000 kits per day.

"There wasn’t a single day during the promotion that we didn’t sell out," said Howard Heckes, senior VP global consumer for the Minneapolis-based company. "Some days, it was amazing — we’d sell out in literally minutes from the time the website would open up."

The offer allowed consumers to order one free paint sample per household from Valspar’s website. The kits included a 7.2-fluid-ounce sample of Valspar paint chosen from about 3,000 options, a small plastic paint roller and a coupon for $5 off a gallon of its paint at Lowe’s.

The company also promoted the program on its Facebook page, where it was picked up by bloggers. Valspar added 40,000 Facebook fans during the promotion.

Although Valspar declined to reveal the cost of the campaign, one estimate put the giveaway at between $1 million and $2 million, based on the retail value of what the company is now charging for samples on its website.

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