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Foot Locker to make strides with mini-hubs,  CEO says in kicking off RILA conference

Dick Johnson, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Foot Locker Inc., kicks off the Retail Industry Leaders Association’s LINK 2019 supply chain conference.

Foot Locker Inc. is looking to make supply chain strides by opening a network of “mini-hub” distribution centers, according to the athletic shoe leader’s top executive speaking today [Feb. 25] at the Retail Industry Leaders Association’s LINK 2019 conference.

“We’re now thinking of our supply chain as an offensive weapon,” Dick Johnson, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Foot Locker, said in kicking off the business agenda of the RILA event in Kissimmee, Florida.

The mini-hubs are part of the game plan, said Johnson, whose New York-based global retailer of athletically inspired shoes and apparel operates more than 3,000 stores in 25 countries, as well as online channels.

Johnson told the Feb. 24-27 gathering of more than 1,800 leaders of retail companies and logistics providers at the Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center that Foot Locker has begun to test the mini-hub concept with a localized distribution center in Secaucus, New Jersey, serving the metropolitan New York market.

Dick Johnson, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Foot Locker Inc., kicks off the Retail Industry Leaders Association’s LINK 2019 supply chain conference. (Photo by Paul Scott Abbott, AJOT)
Dick Johnson, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Foot Locker Inc., kicks off the Retail Industry Leaders Association’s LINK 2019 supply chain conference. (Photo by Paul Scott Abbott, AJOT)

In an effort to speed serving of customers, Johnson said, an unspecified number of the mini-hubs are envisioned to augment Foot Locker’s existing global network of nine distribution centers that employ more than 1,400 workers.

Following his presentation, Johnson told AJOTthat he expects the U.S. mini-hub network to encompass between eight and 10 locations in key population centers, including ones serving New York, Los Angeles, Dallas-Houston and Miami-Orlando markets, plus others near high concentrations of consumers.

Johnson said the mini-hubs are consistent with Foot Locker’s efforts to reshape the customer experience by broadening the traditional definition of the supply chain, organizing for omnichannel retailing and promoting speed and agility, all while not losing sight of fundamentals.

“We have to really reimagine what role stores play,” Johnson said, noting that brick-and-mortar locations must emphasize personalization, emotional connections and community engagement. “It’s relationships over transactions.”

“We need to make sure our DCs [distribution centers] and our stores work in perfect concert with each other,” he said, adding that this includes leveraging every item of inventory that is in stores.

In addition, Foot Locker is connecting with consumers via “nomadic retail,” including with pop-up functions at sites of special sporting events.

By leveraging data and by listening to customers, Johnson said, Foot Locker is able to anticipate and exceed consumer desires.

For example, he said, customer feedback regarding receipt of shoeboxes damaged in transport has led Foot Locker to avoid shipping using bags but rather to put sneaker boxes in sturdy outer cartons – a practice that is proving worth the added expense because of significantly enhanced customer satisfaction.

On-the-way delivery service pioneer Roadie Inc. opened the media agenda earlier this morning by announcing its securing of $37 million in new financing, including from The Home Depot.

More coverage of the RILA conference is slated to appear throughout this week at AJOT.COM and in the March 11 print edition of AJOT.

Paul Scott Abbott
Paul Scott Abbott

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For more than a quarter of a century, Paul Scott Abbott has been writing and shooting images for the American Journal of Transportation, applying four decades of experience as an award-winning journalist.
A graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, with a master’s magna cum laude from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Abbott has served as president of chapters of the Propeller Club of the United States, Florida Public Relations Association and Society of Professional Journalists.
Abbott honed his skills on several daily newspapers, including The Cincinnati Enquirer, The Richmond (Va.) News Leader, Albuquerque Journal and (South Florida) Sun-Sentinel, and was editor and publisher of The County Line, a weekly newspaper he founded in suburban Richmond, Va.
A native Chicagoan, he is a member of American Mensa and an ever-optimistic fan of the Chicago Cubs.

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