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Retail Briefs

Wal-Mart's EPC Project Rolling Along

Five months into its electronic product code (EPC) pilot program, Wal-Mart is giving the go-ahead to suppliers interested in getting a jump-start on the January 2005 milestone.

“They're ready, we're ready, there is no need to wait,” Carolyn Walton, Wal-Mart's Information Systems Division vice president responsible for EPC implementation, said. “I sometimes get the feeling that people think we are going to flip some gigantic switch on Jan. 1 and tagged cases and pallets will appear from more than 100 suppliers. Instead, as we anticipated, suppliers are coming to us and asking to get into the game before the milestone happens,” she continued.

As part of the initial implementation, by January, Wal-Mart will expand to three the number of EPC-equipped distribution centers in North Texas. At the same time, it will also increase the number of participating stores from seven to more than 130. Most of these will be located in North Texas. Others will be located in the south central Oklahoma region.

This fall, the first Sam's Club location will feature EPC capabilities. The location will be the company's first retail facility outside its Wal-Mart Supercenters to use the technology.

Sears Goes Grand in California

Sears, Roebuck and Co. opened its first Sears Grand pilot store in California (Rancho Cucamonga), and the fourth in the United States, on Oct. 30.

The 180,000-square-foot store, located in the Foothill Crossing shopping center, features a combination of private and national brands in a colorful format aimed at being a one-stop solution for family and home shopping needs.

The format carries a wide selection of products and services, such as books and magazines, baby supplies, key cutting, plant nursery, card and party supplies, healthy and beauty products, CDs and DVDs. Sears Grand offers appliances, lawn and garden equipment, tools, automotive products and services, sporting goods, apparel and hardware — with a mix of convenience-inspired items.

Amazon Hires Home, Garden Director

Amazon has named Chris Nielsen director of home and garden. He was previously director of hardlines finance.

He replaces Glenn Cunningham, who will now lead the U.S. consumer electronics business for retail and third-party sellers.

Nielsen has been at Amazon.com for almost two years. Reporting to him will be Mike Lucht, director, tools and hardware; Kerry Morris, divisional merchandise manager, home and garden; Scott Kosinski, divisional merchandise manager, home and garden; and Jennifer Arthur, category manager, home and garden, tools and hardware.

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