Gap Inc. has named Chris Blakeslee as the new president and CEO of Athleta. Blakeslee most recently served as president of sister companies Alo Yoga and Bella+Canvas since 2017.
Blakeslee will join the company August 7 and drive strategic growth for Athleta. He brings broad expertise in the apparel retail and wholesale industries, holding roles across marketing, sales, product portfolio management, operations, and supply chain.
In his time there, Alo Yoga grew to over $1 billion in sales in 2022, nearly doubling its year-over-year growth. At the same time, Blakeslee led the expansion of premium apparel wholesaler Bella+Canvas into the retail space, offering customers direct access to product both online and in stores.
Prior to this, Blakeslee held several senior positions at Broder Brothers (now Alphabroder), a wholesale distributor of branded products and services. He began his career in industrial manufacturing and distribution. Blakeslee holds an MBA from Johns Hopkins University.
"I'm thrilled to join the Gap Inc. team and to lead Athleta – a brand I've long admired. I see incredible runway for the brand to capitalize on its unique, purpose-led positioning and performance product innovation, leveraging its assets across marketing, stores, product and community to deliver consistent growth," said Blakeslee. "There is something really captivating about the 'Power of She' when it comes to engaging women and girls in all aspects of life, and I can't wait to jump in with the teams to harness this in a way that will further serve customers' wants and needs."
"A true brand champion, Chris is known for driving results in high-growth businesses through the blend of creativity and operational rigor," said Bob Martin, executive chairman and interim CEO, Gap Inc. "Chris is a strong, decisive leader and proven business driver across multiple industries, including active apparel and wellness – one of the fastest and most aspirational retail sectors – making him well suited to guide Athleta into long-term, sustainable growth rooted in delivering high-quality performance product and a rich omni shopping experience."
Lily Pulitzer Automates In-Store Processes in Partnership with Oracle
Lilly Pulitzer is partnering with Oracle Cloud to automate the in-store processes, delivering better solutions to support their customers and associates. The retailer recently implemented the mobile Oracle Retail Xstore Point of Service (POS) system and Oracle Retail Xstore Office Cloud Service to streamline automation efforts and scale services for in-store shopping.
“POS technology should automate processes, streamline transactions, and deliver quick scale without the customer even noticing,” said Mike Webster, senior vice president, and general manager, Oracle Retail. “Our goal is to enable sales associates to stay focused and available throughout the entire shopping experience ensuring customers get the attention they deserve.”
Working in collaboration with Deloitte and Oracle Retail Consulting, Lily Pulitzer integrated the Oracle Retail Xstore POS system based on its proven industry performance, including its ability to scale, continuous updates and innovations, and leading platform capabilities. Oracle Xstore Office Cloud Service allowed the retailer to integrate promotions like “Gift with Purchase” and loyalty program offers directly into the POS system.
“The new Oracle mobile POS allows our associates to execute a seamless transaction from anywhere in the store, capture data to grow the loyalty program, and review purchase history to make real-time recommendations,” said Rachael Crews, VP of Digital Commerce, Customer Engagement, Lilly Pulitzer. “Having this intelligence at their fingertips can be a game changer in moving our customers from browsers to buyers.”
Using tablets, these cloud-based solutions provide associates with customer and store data, including the customer’s past purchase history and current store inventory levels.
“With Oracle Retail Xstore POS, our associates now have the time and tools to effectively engage with and delight our customers during pivotal moments in their shopping experience,” said Michelle Kelly, CEO, Lilly Pulitzer.
Lily Pulitzer has over 50 Signature stores nationwide, and their products are featured online and in retail stores and major department store chains.
California-based grocery retailer The Save Mart Companies (TSMC) is launching its own retail media network to leverage advertising opportunities across its supplier partnerships on the Save Mart, Lucky, and FoodMaxx websites.
The company has partnered with omnichannel solutions provider Swiftly to offer consumer targeting capabilities and personalization opportunities across the websites, including coupon clipping, retail media placements, loyalty and rewards experiences, product browsing, weekly ads, sign-in and store locator, app carousel, run of site, and run of category.
"The Save Mart Companies' digital transformation journey is foundational to the company's growth plan, including omnichannel engagement, loyalty, and efficiency," said Tamara Pattison, senior vice president and chief digital officer at TSMC. "Not only can we provide our CPG partners greater opportunities to expand their digital relationships with our growing customer base, but we can also enable them to drive greater performance and growth with improved targeting and measurement capabilities."
Several retailers are continuing to invest in retail media. While major companies like Kroger — which has achieved fraud safety certification once again for its program — and Walmart, have established retail media networks, others are launching new programs or expanding existing efforts.
Sam’s Club, for example, recently shared it will be providing its Sam’s Club Member Access Platform (MAP) retail media network access to the MAP Partners Club, which includes three technology companies — CommerceIQ, Pacvue, and Skai — and two managed service partners — Flywheel and Stackline. This will provide advertisers with access to comprehensive resources, including advanced campaign analytics, real-time, intelligently retargeted display advertising, bidding and budget optimization, as well as sponsored product ads and promotional technologies.
Trader Joe’s longtime CEO, Dan Bane, is retiring at the end of the company’s fiscal year. The company has named Bryan Palbaum as Bane’s successor.
Palbaum will take over as chairman and CEO on July 2, 2023, with Jon Basalone stepping up to become vice CEO and president of Trader Joe's Company. Prior to this appointment, Palbaum spent 10 years as the company’s president and chief operations officer, while Basalone started out as a Trader Joe’s store associate 33 years ago and most recently served as president of stores.
Bane has been with the company for over 25 years and has spent the last 22 as chairman and CEO. During his tenure, Trader Joe’s has expanded to include 543 grocery stores in 42 states, plus Washington, D.C, with little signs of slowing down. Just this year, the number 8 preferred grocery retailer has been working to expand its footprint, announcing the opening of new stores in Sarasota, Florida, and Cypress, California.
Commenting on the news, Palbaum said: "We are thankful for Dan's leadership over the past 22 years. Jon and I look forward to working with all Crew Members to continue to grow Trader Joe's.”
WH Smith North America Deploys AI In Inventory Planning
WH Smith North America is implementing an AI-backed cloud platform to manage inventory planning across its 300+ airport and casino stores.
The specialty retailer will leverage Oracle's retail cloud platform across its stores, which include Harley-Davidson, In Motion, LEGO, and TUMI. WH Smith says it intends to leverage the AI-driven cloud solutions to plot out more accurate inventory planning, optimizing assortment, styles, and size recommendations, as well as reducing stock-outs by making sure merchandise is in the right brand and store location at the right time.
The retail company enlisted the help of a consulting firm to help migrate from its legacy system to the new Oracle platform – a process that the company says took just 16 weeks. WH Smith North America has also been using the Oracle Retail Store POS platform since 2020 – currently using the SaaS-based Oracle Retail Artificial Intelligence Foundation Cloud Service – and Josh Bellendir, chief information officer of WHSNA said the two companies have “great track record of fast and successful implementations.” In 2020, the company also migrated its in-store technology Oracle’s Point-of-Service software.
Brookshire Grocery Company Invests in POS Infrastructure
Brookshire Grocery Company (BCG) is elevating its point of sale system, bolstering its IT infrastructure to leverage cloud-based technology.
The company is working with tech provider NCR Corporation to unify its store, integrating several new capabilities that will better connect the grocer’s front end and back office.
“BGC places a priority on customer service, and we’re looking for ways to leverage technology to improve the experience for our customers,” said Shawn Sedate, CIO of BGC, in a statement. “Now that we’re live in our first store, we plan to start rolling out NCR’s solutions to our 206 locations.”
Sedate added that by simplifying its store infrastructure, the company will have more time to focus on customer needs and keep shoppers coming back to its stores.
“BGC has always had the right approach to upgrading and deploying next-generation applications with speed. It simply needed the right technology to support these efforts,” said David Wilkinson, president of NCR Commerce, in a statement.