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Can Jason Reiser fix what ails FDO

Former Sam’s Club merchant Jason Reiser just got his second promotion in seven months at Family Dollar and now the newly anointed chief merchandising officer has to restore sales growth at the retailer’s 8,000 stores.

Reiser left his role as a merchandising VP at Sam’s Club in July 2013 to become SVP of merchandising at Family Dollar. By October of last year, as sales were beginning to flounder, he had been named EVP and given the curious title of “lead merchandising officer.” In his new CMO role Reiser will have responsibility for the company’s merchandising, global sourcing, marketing, replenishment and financial planning teams and report directly to Family Dollar chairman and CEO Howard Levine.

Just as Reiser’s arrival at the company last summer coincided with the departure of former head merchant Paul White, Reiser’s most recent promotion was announced the same day that Family Dollar president and COO Michael Bloom left to pursue other opportunities just two years after joining the company from CVS.

Reiser’s first order of business is to reverse troubling sales trends of late that are due in part to competition from Walmart on one side and a range of value players on the other, including Dollar General, Dollar Tree and even Aldi. The company has declared it need to better execute the basics of retail by re-accelerating customer traffic, strengthening the value proposition and enhancing the relevancy of its assortment.

“Continuing to refine our assortment to meet the needs of our customer is critical to being a compelling place to shop,” said Family Dollar chairman and CEO Howard Levine. “Jason’s proven leadership, merchandising experience and deep understanding of our customer position him well to ensure that we grow both customer trips and market share.”

Improvement is not expected to be immediate however as Levine noted a challenged consumer and intensified promotional environment continue to affect the company’s business. That was the case in December when Levine said the company was forced to react to softness in discretionary categories by becoming more promotional just to generate a 3% comp decline. Same store sales during the company’s first quarter ended November 30 declined 2.8% and further declines are forecast in the current quarter.

“Reflecting our December results, our expectations that the macroeconomic trends will continue, and the impact of investments we plan to make to strengthen our value proposition, we have lowered our earnings expectations for the second quarter of fiscal 2014 and the full year,” Levine said. “While we have made meaningful progress to improve our execution, our financial performance has not met our expectations. We have a great business model and ample growth opportunity, and I know we can do better.”
 

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