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Industry News - September 2nd 2011



Dollar General Invests in Technology

In a recent conference call with financial analysts discussing second quarter results, Dollar General executives gave insight into technological investments the discount chain is making including the implementation of a new workforce management system, the rollout of a new procurement system, improvements made to in-store handhelds and the launch of its first e-commerce site.
"The workforce management system is an industrial engineering program that helps us better allocate the hours in the store, based on the flow of the customer traffic," explains Rick Dreiling, CEO of Dollar General. "It also helps us identify how many hours we should use for stocking and check-out." CFO David Tehle added that "about 75% of the chain is implemented in."
While the workforce management system implementation is close to completed, the retailer is just beginning to rollout a new procurement system. "The exciting thing about that is that it will give us a real-time look in regards to allocating product rather than having to rely on the previous 10 or 12 weeks," explains Dreiling. "So, we think we're going to be able to do a better job of laying the right amount of product into the store at the right time, particularly on promotional items."
Other technological initiatives Dollar General is making include the launch of its e-commerce site on September 8. Dreiling reported that the site will initially offer over 1,000 of its current SKUs.
Additionally, Tehle briefly mentioned that the retailer is adding WiFi in its stores to improve the functionality of the HHT handhelds used by store employees as well as the implementation of new point-of-sale registers, both initiatives made to make the workload easier for store employees.


A&P Selects Deal Management Software Service

The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company (A&P) selected the Deal Management software service on the DemandTec collaborative optimization network to boost deal efficiency and enhance end-to-end promotion footprint across its 336 stores.
"Through A&P's partnership with DemandTec, we expect to not only gain near-term benefits through a more streamlined, collaborative deal management workflow with our suppliers, but to also support a broader end-to-end promotion planning strategy that maps to our existing systems," says Tom O'Boyle, executive vice president of merchandising, marketing and supply chain at A&P.
A&P will use Deal Management to streamline deal and allowance management capabilities by converting its current paper-based approach into a collaborative, digital workflow across multiple divisions, formats and store clusters. The supermarket chain will capture vendor-submitted deal information in a secure online setting, negotiate and manage each deal, establish control points for data accuracy and store information for seven years, providing an electronic trail to help support regulatory compliance. The software service will be integrated with A&P's existing systems to leverage current automation for coupon, tag and sign production as well as automated billing and invoice reconciliation.
Deal Management is a component service of DemandTec End to End Promotion Management, a solution that includes related software services for managing the entire promotion process from collaborative promotion planning and deal management to in-store execution and post-event analysis.


IHG Takes Part in Carbon Measurement Initiative

IHG (InterContinental Hotels Group) is participating in the hotel industry's Carbon Measurement Working Group to agree one common methodology for calculating carbon footprints and communicating emissions.
The industry initiative is being coordinated by the International Tourism Partnership (ITP) and the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) and it will help hotel guests and corporate clients understand the potential carbon footprint of their hotel stay, meeting or event. IHG has a history of leadership in this area having initiated a Cornell University study to help facilitate this discussion around carbon measurement. The company is also continuing to invest in its Green Engage online program that allows hotels to measure manage and report their environmental impacts.
"There is no consistency in how hotels calculate and communicate carbon emissions currently so the work of the industry to standardize its practices will provide clarity to guests and corporate clients who want to understand the environmental impact of the hotels they stay in," says David Jerome, IHG's senior vice president of corporate responsibility. "IHG is keen to create more sustainable hotels in the 21st century and we're working collaboratively with our hotel owners on creative solutions for the future."
IHG is focused on smart green hotel design, construction and operations and recently released an enhanced Green Engage Version 2.0. Originally launched in late 2009, the online Green Engage program takes guest experience and return on investment into account as it helps hotels reduce their environmental impact while managing costs. Green Engage is available to all of IHG's 4,400 hotels, across its seven brands including Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza and InterContinental. IHG now has more than 1000 hotels registered for Green Engage and expects to grow this user base throughout 2011.


Blockbuster Canada Closes Remaining 250 Stores

Blockbuster Canada, which had once operated nearly 400 stores, will close its remaining 253 stores as its bankruptcy receiver seeks to wind down the chain's operations in the country.

After being forced into receivership in May, Blockbuster's Canadian unit filed for Chapter 15 bankruptcy protection – a provision in a Chapter 11 filing that incorporates foreign-based properties – with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York. The filing was made as the company's U.S. parent, which itself had declared bankruptcy in September 2010 and was acquired by Dish Network in April, sought to void the agreement that allowed Blockbuster Canada to use the Blockbuster name.

Blockbuster Canada's receiver Grant Thornton LLP closed approximately 140 of the chain's stores in May and June. According to published reports, it will seek an order from the Ontario Superior Court to shut down the remaining stores in a hearing set to take place September 6.


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