Meanwhile, H&M shares loyalty program plans, Rad Power Bikes raises funds, Revolve launches a new shopping site and GameStop, OrderMyGear and Unilever announce executive changes.

Grocery chain Albertsons Cos. Inc. has appointed Vivek Sankaran as its new CEO and president, effective April 25. The grocery retailer’s current CEO and president, Jim Donald, will continue serving as co-chairman of the board.

Sankaran is joining Albertsons after more than 10 years with PepsiCo, where he was named CEO of PepsiCo Foods North America in 2018 after holding various senior executive roles, such as president and chief operating officer.

“Vivek brings a rare blend of CPG, retail, manufacturing, logistics, technology, and research and development to Albertsons Companies, all of which are key components to being a successful retailer in an omnichannel-driven environment,” says Donald. “Moreover, Vivek has the keen understanding that the front line is directly linked to the bottom line, and I’m confident he will inspire and engage our 270,000 associates across our stores, support offices, manufacturing facilities, and distribution centers.”

Albertsons, No. 178 in the Internet Retailer 2018 Top 1000, has been increasingly focused on omnichannel and making steps to invest in that area.

The grocery chain, which has about 2,300 retail food and drug stores under 20 brand names in 35 states and the District of Columbia, began working with Takeoff Technologies in late 2018 to test Takeoff’s in-store ecommerce fulfillment system at a yet-to-be-announced location. The automated Albertsons facility will use artificial intelligence-enabled technology to read grocery orders online, collect the items and deliver them to an Albertsons employee via a system of totes and conveyors. The employee will then prepare the order for delivery or pickup by the customer.

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Additionally, it launched an online marketplace in late 2018, which allows vendors to list products for purchase on the platform, with the marketplace handling several front-end ecommerce functions, including search, product descriptions and ordering. The new marketplace represents just one of the ways Albertsons has sought to create a bigger online presence.

For example, in August, Albertsons teamed up with venture capital firm Greycroft to create a $50 million fund that will invest in emerging companies and technologies in the grocery sector. In addition, Albertsons acquired the meal-kit delivery service Plated last September for an undisclosed amount.

In other ecommerce news:

  • Apparel retailer H&M (No. 547), announced in its first quarter earnings report that later this year it will be launching on Myntra and Jabong, India’s largest ecommerce marketplaces. H&M also said that its loyalty program has 35 million members and is currently in 16 markets, but it will be rolled out to seven more, including in the U.S., Canada and Russia in May, according to its earnings report. Additionally, the loyalty program will be integrated into the Chinese communications app WeChat. H&M is also upgrading the program, however, this includes placing limits on free delivery and returns, according to CEO Karl-Johan Perrsson. Analysts have said that’s been weighing on profitability. But adverse currency shifts are also increasingly pushing up buying costs, Persson said. Online sales for the first quarter ending Feb. 28, 2019, increased 18% compared with the first quarter of last year when they grew 10%.
  • Sporting goods and custom apparel ecommerce software platform OrderMyGear has named Wade Williams as chief technology officer. Before this role, Williams was chief technology officer of property management software company Paylease for more than seven years. OrderMyGear also recently appointed a new CEO: Dave Dutch, who began his role at the start of 2019. “Wade is known as a proven technology leader that has taken organizations and their products to the next level, and I have every confidence he’ll do the same here,” Dutch says.
  • Electric bike maker Rad Power Bikes (No. 925) has received funding from investors Darrell Cavens and Mark Vadon, who founded online retailers such as Zulily (owned by Qurate Inc., No. 11) and Blue Nile (No. 108). The terms of the funding were not disclosed, but “the value is meaningful to the future of the brand and significant to Cavens and Vadon,” the retailer says. This is the bike maker’s first investment since crowdfunding on Indiegogo in 2015.
  • Amazon.com Inc.’s head of consumables, Sunny Jain, plans to join consumer goods company Unilever in June as president of beauty and personal care. Jain replaces Alan Jope, who was recently promoted to CEO at Unilever. Jain has spent six years at Amazon (No. 1), where he was responsible for health, personal care, beauty, grocery and baby products. Jain’s experience with consumer products and online retail made him well-suited to the Unilever role, Jope said. Unilever says beauty and personal care generated 41% of its overall sales in 2018 and ecommerce represented 5% and continues to grow.
  • GameStop Corp. (No. 40) has a new CEO: George Sherman will take over the role from interim CEO Shane Kim on April 15. Sherman comes to GameStop from his two-year role as CEO of Victra, which is an exclusive authorized retailer of Verizon Wireless products and services. Prior to that, he also served as president of Advance Auto Parts Inc. (No 95), senior vice president of services at Best Buy Co. Inc. (No. 8) and senior vice president of home services at The Home Depot Inc. (No. 7), as well as 12 years at Target Corp. (No. 17) in various leadership positions.
  • Apparel company Revolve Group Inc. is launching a Generation Z-focused apparel site called Superdown. It will carry an assortment of brands such as BB Dakota, Brixton and Minkpink. “Superdown represents an opportunity to serve an expanded demographic with a large and growing spending power,” said Revolve Group co-founder and co-CEO Michael Mente. “We strategically tested this by launching a competitively priced in-house brand and saw a strong response. It made sense to transition this product to its own destination and build out an elevated roster of brands specifically curated for this customer, that complement her lifestyle.”

James Melton contributed to this report.

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