In a move that’s been in the works for some time, Borders has shuffled its internal merchandising team. The shifting of various staffers’ positions has been planned for a few months, and the retailer has shared the details with its publisher clients.
According to an April 8 letter to publishers from Rob Gruen, executive v-p of merchandising and marketing, Gruen has been “seeking the best ways to deploy” his internal talent since he came on board a year ago, and the new structure is more in line with how other retailers are organized. The company, which previously had a pool of buyers, will now be restructured into a merchandising department with buyers, planners and directors. The changes will go into effect officially on May 19.
In his letter, Gruen delineated the the roles of the buyer and the planner, describing the newly minted buyer as the person who “drives the relationship with [publishers] on a strategic level including determining which titles to buy.” Planners, who are “peers” to the buyers, will “partner with the buyer and ensure that the buyer’s strategic vision is executed in an efficient manner.” To that end, planners will handle forecasting, allocation and replenishment.
Anne Roman, Borders’s director of corporate affairs, stressed that the reorganization has not resulted in the loss of any positions. “It’s a completely new merchandising organization function-wise, not people-wise,” she explained. This reorganization, Roman confirmed, was also well underway before the company’s recent announcement that it might put itself up for sale.
Although an outside source confirmed that staffers were asked to take Myers-Briggs personality assessment tests, Roman said employees were interviewed by Gruen “and his team” and that they all “gave input on what they felt they would be best at.” Roman continued: “We did use some assessment, but I won’t go into specifically what.” Roman also would not confirm how many staffers are now designated to each position.
Gruen provided some details in his letter. Anne Frazer, hired last October, functions in an executive role as senior v-p of merchandise planning, replenishment and allocation. Frazer has also named three new directors in the new merchandise planning division: Nancy Werner, Mark Bacon and John Brimacombe. (Judy Fox remains in the department as a director.)
On the buying side, Beryl Needham, who handles fiction/bargain, and Kathryn Popoff, who handles nonfiction, have both been named vice-presidents. Moving into the director roles in the fiction/bargain area are Micha Hershman (who joins Tom Dwyer and Bob Chunn) in fiction/bargain and, in nonfiction, Allison Elsby and Christine Edwards. Linda Jones, a senior v-p, retains her post in the children’s, newsstand, calendars and multimedia area. Directors Patti Russo, Diane Mangan and Joanna Goldstein will all now report to her.