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Wal-Mart, Kmart rein in dot-coms

Andrea Lillo -- Home Textiles Today, July 30, 2001

They both relaunched last fall to much fanfare, sporting new graphics, assortments and user-friendly features. But now that the Internet frenzy has died down across the board, walmart.com and bluelight.com will fold back into the respective parent umbrellas, as Wal-Mart and Kmart both announced last week that they will purchase the remaining interests in their websites.

Wal-Mart said that customers want to shop both online and off, so its priority was to smooth the integration between the two. A partnership between Wal-Mart and Accel Partners, walmart.com will remain a separate division and stay in its San Francisco-area headquarters, Wal-Mart said. Jeanne Jackson, walmart.com's president and ceo, will now report to Tom Schoewe, executive vp and cfo of Wal-Mart Stores. Wal-Mart also said it doesn't anticipates any layoffs.

"We have accomplished many of the things that we had in mind when we made the decision to locate walmart.com in the Silicon Valley," said Lee Scott, president and ceo of Wal-Mart Stores. Sales are significantly increasing on a year-to-year basis, Jackson said, and customer visits have tripled in the past year. Wal-Mart also announced that three walmart.com officers were being promoted to senior vp: Neil Day, cio, John Fleming, chief merchandising officer; and Greg Penner, senior vp, finance and operations. In addition, Erik Hagerman has been promoted to vp, creative.

Kmart is viewing its move as a merger with Bluelight.com, the company said, and Kmart anticipates acquiring the 40 percent of Bluelight shares it does not currently own by or before Aug. 1. Shareholders are currently reviewing the merger now, the company said.

The website, which sells the typical Kmart fare, as well as the unexpected for the discounter, including projection-screen TVs and Waterford crystal, has had some management changes recently, such as when Mark Goldstein stepped down as its head in May. Since then Bluelight's board, headed by chairwoman Randy Allen, has been running the site.

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