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Tuesday Morning to revamp merchandising, buying

Bids adieu to chief operating officer

Retail Editor 2, Pamela Reeves -- Home Textiles Today, October 23, 2012

Dallas - Less than two months after joining Tuesday Morning Corp., new president and ceo Brady Churches yesterday evening laid out the company's plan to improve sales and clean up inefficiencies from the backend to the store level.

"There is significant - and I really mean significant - room for improvement on the merchandising front," he said during the closeout chain's first-quarter earnings call. "And it all starts with our buying organization and ending in the way merchandising is presented to our customers in our stores."

In the seven weeks since he assumed his post, Churches said the company has identified several areas that need repair.

"There is an opportunity to be more thoughtful about how we merchandise at the store level because there are some markets where high-end sheet sets are simply not the right offering for our customers," he cited. "We have the data we need at store level to understand the demographic profiles of our locations. We just need to use it to classify the stores by tiers and customize a portion of merchandising offering accordingly to ensure we remain relevant to our customer."

Three efforts are already underway to improve the store experience, he said:

  • Clean up stores and have store standards that are consistent across the store base;
  • Roll out a new signage program that will "validate and highlight that we are an off-price retailer";
  • Evaluate store lighting and fixtures.

Also part of the revamping plan is "filling any voids we see with extremely capable leadership," Churches said. That includes two new hires.

The first is John Rossler, who was formerly the ceo of DSW Stores, where he spent 14 years of his career. Since joining Tuesday Morning last month, he is "focused on operational efficiencies, including overall cost control and making us more efficient across a number of functions, including supply chain, real estate, and [human resources]," noted Churches.

Also new to the team is Donald Mierzwa as svp of store operations. He brings 35 years of experience, the past 20 at Big Lots where he most recently was evp of store operations.

Churches also announced the departure of Michael Marchetti, who was serving as evp and coo. He was with Tuesday Morning for the past 12 years.

"We wish him well in his future endeavors," Churches said.

Ultimately, Churches said he hopes to return Tuesday Morning to its roots, "and what aspects of the shopping experience most resonated with our customers over the years...The value customers could rely on us to provide was of paramount importance to them."

Over recent years, he said, there has been "a significant dilution of the strength of that value proposition, and our customers noticed. Our sales performance and slow inventory turns confirmed this. The good news is, we are in the process of correcting it, and part of the remedy lies in installing new disciplines and accountability into our buying organization so they are focused on great buys and held accountable for delivering great value to our customers."

For its first quarter, ended Sept. 30, a net loss of a $7.0 million, or a 17 cents per share compared to a net loss of $5.7 million, or a 13 cents per share in the year-ago period.

Sales rose a 1.3% to $172.8 million, with comps up 1.7%. Average ticket rose 4.7%, but traffic fell 3.0%.