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Retail Briefs

Investor Ackman to Test Target

In a mid-July SEC filing, Pershing Square Capital Management reported it had amassed 81.8 million shares, or about a 9.6% stake, in the common stock of Target. William Ackman, managing member of Pershing, said his group believes that Target's stock "is undervalued and intend to discuss with management ways in which this undervaluation can be corrected." Wall Street analysts offered a range of theories on Ackman's intentions — from pressuring Target to boost stock buybacks to spinning off its credit card business. The only thing for certain is that the price of Target shares leapt up more than 6% on the news, hitting a 52-week high of $70.75.

Sears Taps Gerstein for Marketing

The Sears division of Sears Holdings Corp. has named Richard Gerstein chief marketing officer, effective August 6. With overall responsibilities for executing Sears brand marketing strategies and programs, Gerstein will report to Maureen McGuire, Sears Holdings chief marketing officer. Gerstein comes to Sears from Alberto Culver Beauty, where he served as global cmo and svp of the U.S. unit. During his 20-year career, he has also served in senior positions at Procter & Gamble and at its spinoff Reflect True Custom Beauty.

JCP Readies Multi-store Opening

JCPenney is gearing up to grand-open 14 stores this week around the country. They are part of JCP's long-term plan to open 250 new stores through 2011. Prize giveaways during grand opening week include a $1,000 JCPenney gift card, as well as 50 gift cards worth $100.

LNT Renews E-commerce Contract

Linens 'n Things and GSI Commerce agreed to extend their multi-year e-commerce partnership, with GSI providing web design and marketing, fulfillment and customer service to the website. GSI has helped $2.8 billion LNT offer a gift registry, in-store ordering, and email marketing. "Since partnering with GSI in 2003, Linens 'n Things has experienced tremendous growth in its online business, more than doubling the sales generated from its online store," said Robert Homler, LNT evp merchandising.

Wal-Mart Consumers Post E-reviews

After live testing, Wal-Mart has launched a customer review and ratings system on its website,, with reviews already posted for 15% of the items offered in electronics, home and garden, media, and baby. "Reviews and ratings is the No. 1 customer-requested feature" by Wal-Mart online shoppers, said Cathy Halligan, chief marketing officer, leading to the June test and current rollout.

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