2010 Influentials

Surviving the Great Recession of 2009 was a feat in itself for most retailers, but thriving during the worst economic condition in generations was a modern marvel. Despite the adverse conditions, retailers with strong business models and healthy balance sheets moved ahead with bold and innovative programs to seize new opportunities or leapfrog weakened competitors. Driving successful programs like these are savvy, high-level executives who make significant contributions to the success of their companies and raise the bar for the industry as a whole. These executives have helped create and implement important strategic initiatives that have earned them the respect of their corporate colleagues and peers throughout the industry.

This year's 10 RIS Influentials, chosen by the editors of RIS from more than 40 nominations, include executives from the discount vertical, online pure plays, department stores, sporting goods and apparel. Their areas of chief responsibility range from technology to supply chain and merchandising to marketing. One thing they all have in common is a drive to make their companies succeed combined with a track record of success.

Scott Zucker
Vice President of Merchandise Operations, Family Dollar
  • Headquarters: Matthews, NC
  • Number of Stores: 6,665
  • Sales: $7.4 Billion
  • Vertical: Discount

Scott Zucker is responsible for designing, implementing and maintaining critical support functions essential to meeting Family Dollar's vision of "being the best small-format convenience and value retailer serving the needs of families in our neighborhoods." This includes: lifecycle pricing, space planning, vendor/item management, category management and analysis, merchandise/assortment planning, and merchandise initiatives. In order to deliver a more compelling and relevant shopping experience for its customers, Scott Zucker and his team most recently designed a comprehensive solution framework anchored around the SAS Integrated Merchandise Planning Suite which includes SAS Merchandise Financial Planning and SAS Merchandise Assortment Planning. In addition to the technical challenges involved with a program of this size and scope, Zucker and his team made significant enhancements to the organization (roles/responsibilities, performance metrics) as well as redesigning most of the core business processes. Before joining Family Dollar in 2006, Zucker was a management consultant at BearingPoint and prior to that worked as a buyer at Belk. 

Steve Bozzo
  • Headquarters: Carle Place, NY
  • Number of Stores: 100
  • Sales: $714 Million
  • Vertical: Specialty

1-800-Flowers.com is well known for helping customers fulfill their gift giving needs for any occasion and has dominated the gifting sector for more than 30 years. After 1-800-Flowers.com acquired a multitude of gift brands, the retailer was faced with the daunting challenge of consolidating its brands onto a single Web platform. At the helm of the initiative was Steve Bozzo, who conducted a detailed analysis to find a homogeneous state-of-the-art platform that would enhance the customer experience. Bozzo and his team chose IBM's WebSphere Commerce platform, which today manages peak traffic during its busy gift-giving seasons and boosts sales and customer loyalty through better business practices. The system also is used to quickly introduce new products, marketing promotions and special offers as well as support its latest Web 2.0 technology. Other major IT projects underway at the company where Bozzo will lead the charge include expanding the company's footprint in mobile commerce, plans for migrating 1,100 servers on IBM's PSeries, and an initiative known as "Perfect Order Every Time," better known as "POET," which combines Web and phone technology as well as business intelligence. According to Bozzo, the company continues to focus on "improving the customer experience with respect to making sure that customers have a perfect order every time."  

Jim Calo

Chief Supply Chain Officer, Under Armour

  • Headquarters: Baltimore, MD
  • Number of Stores: 36 factory houses, 4 specialty stores
  • Sales: $856.4 Million
  • Vertical: Apparel

Under Armour, which is known for its innovation in textiles, has posted steady double-digit increases across its entire line of product offerings including men's, women's and youth apparel. In a span of 13 years, the Baltimore, Maryland-based company has transformed itself from a virtually unknown entity established in a basement into a global brand worn by professional athletes on playing fields around the globe. As Under Armour's business boomed, Jim Calo and his team recognized that its warehouse management system was no longer able to scale to its business needs.

Calo and his team selected a sophisticated Warehouse Management System (WMS) from Manhattan Associates and went live with the system in 2008 from its Baltimore-based distribution center. "We were able to get footwear up without missing a beat," says Calo. In the future, Under Armour will continue to upgrade its supply chain solutions and add a new labor management solution. A strong IT infrastructure has helped Under Armour win on and off retail's playing field -- the company reported record sales last year.

Dee Slater
  • Headquarters: Rockford, MI
  • Number of Stores: 90
  • Sales: $1.22 Billion
  • Vertical: Footwear

Wolverine World Wide's (WWW) portfolio of lifestyle brands includes Bates, Caterpillar Footwear, Chaco, Cushe, Harley-Davidson Footwear, Hush Puppies, HyTest, Merrell, Patagonia Footwear, Sebago and Wolverine. Today, Dee Slater and her team are focused on extending the company's footwear brands into lifestyle brands that offer apparel and accessories, and expanding sales to additional geographic regions. "A single common systems platform is shared across all of our brands and operations worldwide. This enables seamless cross-brand and cross-region information sharing to drive business decisions and allows us to acquire and quickly integrate new businesses and brands in a 'plug-and play' fashion."  In 2009, the company had two acquisitions, which it was able to plug into its systems and processes in a short 30-day timeframe. The company also went live with SAP Retail in October 2008. "The success of this six-month project exceeded our expectations and delivered a positive ROI by reducing out-of-stocks, and improving our assortment planning and markdown management," says Slater, who joined Wolverine World Wide in 1999 and has served in various roles of progressive IT responsibility. Slater has served as CIO since 2006. "There are no IT projects at Wolverine World Wide,"she says. "Every project we execute is driven by business need and encompasses process optimization, organizational change management and technology."


Tom Rosdail
VP of Marketing, Cabela's
  • Headquarters: Sidney, NE
  • Number of Stores: 29
  • Sales: $2.55 Billion
  • Vertical: Sporting Goods

Cabela's is an outdoor lover's paradise and has commonly been referred to as Disney World for the outdoorsy. The company has rapidly transitioned from a direct marketer into a multi-channel business, and as the outdoor super center evolved, it was challenged to gain a single view of its customers. Tom Rosdail and his team were tasked with finding ways to better focus marketing efforts to increase sales by leveraging its data across stores, Web site and catalog business. Rosdail and his team identified that advanced analytics was the missing piece of the puzzle and integrated SAS Analytics with Teradata's Enterprise Data Warehouse to more effectively analyze Cabela's sales transactions, market research and demographic data associated with its large database of customers. The system today helps the company choose up-sell offerings that in turn increase profits and is able to effectively schedule promotions to drive sales. Cabela's also is now able to personalize catalog offerings, estimate first-year sales, and identify optimal site locations.

Mercedes De luca
Global Customer Experience and Chief Information Officer, MyShape.com
  • Headquarters: Glendale, CA
  • Number of Stores: N/A
  • Sales: N/A
  • Vertical: Apparel

A technology business executive, Mercedes De Luca has a track record of designing, implementing and leveraging IT in high-technology companies to achieve superior business results. In an effort to help women find the correct clothing styles that fit and flatter their unique shapes and meet personal preferences, De Luca and her team have turned online shopping on its head by enabling the female to become her own merchandiser. MyShape.com allows women to create a personal shop within the Web site which displays only the garments that satisfy her personal set of criteria. "I always look for clothing that really resonates with me personally, that reflects my personal style. The Web provides so much choice, but those choices can be disconnected and impersonal, which can make the Web a very overwhelming place to shop. At MyShape, we use our Personal Shops to connect women to their personal style so that they feel and look good in their clothes." Prior to joining Myshape.com, De Luca served as vice president and CIO of Yahoo! and was responsible for infrastructure, applications, strategy, and architecture. De Luca led a team of over 400 professionals to deliver global IT and business solutions for Yahoo! in more than 22 countries and 80 locations worldwide.

Donald Hendricks
Vice President and CIO, Gymboree
  • Headquarters: San Francisco, CA
  • Number of Stores: 615
  • Sales: $1 Billion
  • Vertical: Apparel

A true success story that emerged stronger than ever before out of the ailing recession of 2008-2009 is Gymboree, which is best known for offering colorful, fashionable playsuits and rompers for kids up to 12 years old. The retailer also operates Janie and Jack and Crazy 8 retail concepts. Despite poor economic conditions in 2008, Donald Hendricks and his team successfully coped with the harsh realities of the time by sharpening the company's focus on a strategic priority list and managing the company with impeccable execution. The company was extremely well-positioned for growth despite the challenges that many other retailers faced in this vertical. Gymboree experienced a growth spurt when its lower-priced Crazy 8 format more than tripled in size in 2008. The retailer also added 50-plus new Gymboree and Gymboree Outlet locations and roughly 20 Janie and Jack upscale shops. Net sales hit the billion-dollar mark in 2008.

Timothy Kasbe
CIO, Sears
  • Headquarters: Hoffman Estates, IL
  • Number of Stores: 3,900
  • Sales: $46.77 Billion
  • Vertical: Department Store

Sears Holdings, the parent company of Sears and Kmart, is the nation's fourth largest broadline retailer. Timothy Kasbe provides leadership and direction to all technology initiatives at the company and is driving technology led transformation, which includes various self-service multi-channel innovations and associate engagement. Kasbe has embarked on a whole new paradigm in managing technology at a faster than fast pace at Sears Holdings. One key accomplishment has been the formation of a "garage" process, or the creation of fluid teams self-directing individual projects. This helps get processes done at a record pace in order to manage an unprecedented amount of planned and unplanned projects during the last fiscal year. Sears also recently launched a successful in-store mobility application. Kasbe notes another key achievement -- Sears.com had zero defects on its Web site the day after Thanksgiving, breaking every system and transaction processing record in Sears' history. Prior to Sears Holdings, Timothy served as CIO at Reliance Retail Ltd. (RRL), a subsidiary of Reliance Industries Ltd. "My team is key to everything I do. Together, we only desire to attempt the impossible, and at times we actually pull it off." 

Diane Randolph
Vice President and CIO, Reitmans
  • Headquarters: Montreal, QC
  • Number of Stores: 985
  • Sales: $1 Billion
  • Vertical: Apparel

Reitmans is Canada's largest specialty retailer, and at 80-years-old is among the country's most established and successful brands. In her previous role as director of merchandising business processes, Randolph helped Reitmans leverage software applications to better manage merchandising operations. Building on that success, Randolph helped ensure that Reitmans was among the first to drive performance improvements using Oracle planning, allocation and markdown optimization tools. Today, Reitmans continues to align technology investments with business strategy, steadily adopting new business intelligence tools that continually improve the customer experience and store performance. Next, Randoph will oversee the implementation of new Oracle Retail merchandising and supply chain applications to support changes and growth across all parts of the business. The new applications address specific opportunities to create value across the fashion merchandising and supply chain business. "The Oracle Retail suite of applications addresses specific opportunities to create value across the fashion merchandising and supply chain business," said Randolph. "We will be able to support changes and growth across all parts of our business, and the out-of-the-box integration will enable us to reduce the overall cost of maintenance and upgrades."


Vice President and CIO, Wet Seal
  • Headquarters: Foothill Ranch, CA
  • Number of Stores: 504
  • Sales: $600 Million
  • Vertical: Apparel

The Wet Seal sells brand-name and private-label merchandise through its stores and Web site which sell fresh fashion at rock-bottom prices. As a fast fashion retailer, Wet Seal provides customers a constant flow of new styles and trendy merchandise at its namesake Wet Seal and for the 20- and 30-something woman, Arden B stores. Kubo works hard at implementing systems that help keep assortments fresh and draw customers to stores, such as the retailer's recent implementation of Oracle markdown optimization applications. Building on this success, Kubo contiues to roll out next-generation technology such as the Oracle Retail suite of merchandising applications to help merchants to better manage the product lifecycle, sell-through rates and performance of each item. "The new applications will improve the customer experience at the point of service while creating a platform that enables us to streamline business processes and enhance merchandising decision-support throughout our organization," says Kubo. Beyond the traditional footprint, Kubo is helping Wet Seal leverage e-commerce and m-commerce opportunities to connect with customers. Jon Kubo has been the CIO for Wet Seal since 2005. Before joining Wet Seal, Kubo held the positions of Chief Administrative Officer for FAO Schwarz, CIO for FAO, and several executive positions in the software technology industry.

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