retail news in context, analysis with attitude

We had a story yesterday about some calling for Amazon to be more transparent about its line of leadership succession, especially in view of the tumult currently in founder-CEO Jeff Bezos’ personal life.

This prompted MNB reader Tim McGuire to write:

I think there is a huge difference between the Apple succession situation, where Steve Jobs was known to have a terminal illness, and the Amazon situation, where you correctly describe it as a “what if Bezos gets hit by a bus” situation. You suggest that Amazon investors have the right to know what is Plan B - I beg to differ.

The investors have a right to expect that there is a plan B, but not to know what the details are. In many cases the plan B is something like “if it happens in the next 18 months our successor is X because X is the only individual ready to step up, but we are actively working to also develop Y and Z so that they are viable candidates, and that will take 24 and 36 months, respectively - and at that time we think they will be better candidates for the long term than X, who is more of a “safe hands caretaker””. If that hypothetical plan was made public, X might leave because they don’t think they have the long term opportunity; Y or Z might leave because they see the other two as competition or disagree with how much time is required to develop into the preferred candidate; and all 3 might be less effective teammates if it becomes clear they are direct competitors for the role. This would also open the company up to poaching - “hey #2 - the market has been told you’re not likely to be the one, so why don’t you leave and join us?”

So don’t force public disclosure that will damage the likelihood of a good outcome for the company and the shareholders - but absolutely hold the board accountable for having an effective succession plan in place for not only the CEO role, but also other key roles including CFO, COO, CMO. That’s good governance and good for the investors.




We took note the other day of a Business Insider report on how Kroger is “building a system that combines information about what food a customer buys with information about their prescriptions so that pharmacists can better counsel patients on healthier habits and ‘food as medicine’.”

One MNB reader responded:

I guess this doesn’t violate HIPPA laws but it’s creepy as hell. They want all the data their shoppers can provide. I predict some backlash about this from customers. The last thing I need is some non-dietitian/pharmacist telling me what to eat.



Regarding possible reason for Amazon-owned Whole Foods raising prices, one MNB reader wrote:

The other reason of course being payroll - new hires start at $15 hour, plus what longer term associates make.  And compared to other stores I shop(and work at), they are way overstaffed.  Even as their associates claim otherwise.  Or those other stores are understaffed, but that's a story for another day!



Finally, following up on what I wrote about Albert Finney’s passing the other day, MNB reader Jim Huey wrote:

I first saw Albert Finney in the Tim Burton movie Big Fish. I had a couple young sons at the time and a non-existent relationship with my own father. I knew how I thought about my father and wondered how my children would perceive me when they were grown. I cry every time when Billy Crudup’s character gets to the end and realizes that although his father was flawed he was not the charlatan he appeared to be. I may be nothing like Edward Bloom but I struggle with the same issues of wanting my children to like me and hoping they will see through my faults.

Don’t we all.
 
And from MNB reader Steve Yandel:

I appreciated your thoughts on Albert Finney, in particular for the mention of Shoot the Moon … I’ve only seen it once, as part of a high school cinema studies course. That was in 1986 but the film has always stayed with me and I’ve admired Finney’s work ever since.

We viewed several under-the-radar movies that semester. Other highlights were Birdy (also directed by Alan Parker), Local Hero (a wonderfully understated film that would be worth it for Burt Lancaster alone) and Independence Day (the 1983 version without the aliens), featuring a searing performance from a then little-known Dianne Wiest. Anyway, I always appreciate your take on the movies but mostly wanted to thank you for prompting the trip down memory lane.


I love Burt Lancaster. Speaking of memory lane, I’ve told the story here before, but I’ll never forget meeting Lancaster in the mid-seventies when he came to a film class I was taking at Loyola Marymount University. He strolled in wearing khakis, sandals, a white button down shirt and a Mexican poncho, smoking Camels and just reeking of charisma. He answered every question the class asked him, and then stood around and chatted with a few of us for hours until he realized that he had to leave if he was going to catch an early morning flight to New York.

They don’t make ‘em like that anymore.
KC's View: