New Hires Under TRU’s Transformation Strategy
Toys “R” Us, Inc., announced that it has appointed a number of executives to key leadership roles, as the company continues to work to position its business for long-term profitable growth.
“One of the key pillars of our ‘TRU Transformation’ strategy is to develop high-performing, highly engaged, diverse teams, and we are assembling talent that can help lead important areas of the business and offer fresh perspectives,” said Antonio Urcelay, chairman and CEO, Toys “R” Us, Inc., in this morning’s statement. “With these new leaders and our internal team, we are intensely focused on looking at every aspect of the business for process improvement in making the company fit for growth.”
The following executives are joining TRU. Debbie Lentz has been named senior vice-president, chief supply chain officer, with responsibility for U.S. distribution and customs compliance, global importing and exporting, fleet operations, and domestic transportation, reporting to Hank Mullany, president, TRU, U.S. In addition, Lentz leads logistics strategy development for the company’s international markets and efforts to improve global supply chain efficiencies, reporting in this capacity to Urcelay.
Lentz was formerly with Kraft Foods Group and most recently held the position of senior vice-president, customer service and logistics. Prior to Kraft, she worked for many years in logistics operations at Nabisco Foods Group. She serves on the board of directors of the International Women’s Forum Leadership Foundation.
Christine Morena has been named senior vice-president, human resources, reporting to Deb Derby, vice chairman.
Morena most recently served as principal of her own advisory services business, providing counsel to senior managers and boards. Prior to this, Morena served as executive vice-president and chief human resources officer for Saks Incorporated. She previously worked at AT&T.
Joe Venezia has been named senior vice-president, store operations. In this capacity, Venezia is responsible for transforming the in-store experience across the U.S. He also provides leadership for ensuring customers have a seamless in-store and online shopping experience through the company’s omnichannel offerings, including Ship from Store and In-Store Pickup. He reports to Mullany.
Venezia was formerly at The Pantry, where he served as senior vice-president of store operations for its convenience stores and quick service restaurants across the Southeastern U.S. Prior to this, Venezia was with Walmart, Wells Fargo Merchant Services, and The Procter & Gamble Company. Venezia also served as an Airborne Ranger Officer in the U.S. Army Infantry for nine years and was deployed abroad three times. His missions included a parachute assault into Panama during Operation Just Cause and combat operations in Iraq during Operation Desert Storm, where he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for demonstrated bravery.
Additional announcements include the appointments of Michael Short as executive vice-president, CFO and Chetan Bhandari as senior vice-president, corporate finance and treasurer.
Vince Klaseus Joins Universal Pictures in Newly Created Role
Universal Pictures announced that Vince Klaseus will join the company as president of a newly created Brand Development division. The announcement was made by Universal Filmed Entertainment Group chairman Jeff Shell, to whom Klaseus will report.
Klaseus will be responsible for centralizing Universal businesses and brands to grow product opportunities in the retail and non-theatrical content space. Universal Partnerships & Licensing president Stephanie Sperber will continue to lead NBCUniversal’s global consumer products, promotions, and digital gaming efforts, which includes the merchandising and licensing of the company’s wealth of intellectual properties, including Universal Pictures, Universal Studios Home Entertainment, NBC Entertainment, and Sprout, reporting to Klaseus. Universal 1440 Entertainment executive vice-president and general manager Glenn Ross will continue in his role as head of Universal Studios’ Home Entertainment’s content production arm, developing and producing kids and family entertainment for non-theatrical distribution worldwide. Ross, who reports to president of Worldwide Home Entertainment Eddie Cunningham, will now also report to Klaseus.
Klaseus comes to Universal from Cartwheel Kids, a company he helped launch while serving as CEO since December 2012. Prior to Cartwheel, Klaseus spent 12 years at The Walt Disney Company in various capacities. Klaseus began his career at Mattel in 1995.
Dunn Named President, CEO of Sesame Workshop
Jeffrey Dunn has been named president and CEO of Sesame Workshop, effective September 29, 2014. Dunn, formerly president and CEO of HIT Entertainment, will succeed H. Melvin Ming who announced his retirement earlier this year.
Dunn currently serves as a 2014 Advanced Leadership Initiative Fellow at Harvard University with a focus on media and education. He served as president and CEO of HIT Entertainment from 2008–2012. Prior to joining HIT, Dunn served as group COO of the Nickelodeon Networks group and the president of Nickelodeon Film and Enterprises. Dunn recently served on the board of American Greetings and Sprout.
“Jeff Dunn has an outstanding track record in the world of children’s media,” said Vincent Mai, chairman of the board of trustees for Sesame Workshop. “At HIT Entertainment, he led the company’s resurgence and successful turnaround before it was sold to Mattel in 2012. And under his leadership, Nickelodeon became one of the industry’s most global networks, largest licensing businesses, as well as the world’s largest digital media business for kids. His current experience at Harvard is a testament to his commitment to the educational power of media and we look forward to the Workshop thriving under his creative, inspired leadership.”
Frozen Fever Announced for Spring 2015
The Walt Disney Company announced last week that Frozen Fever, a new animated short film, is expected in spring 2015. The film welcomes back to the big screen key characters Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, and Olaf. The film’s storyline centers around Anna’s birthday and Elsa and Kristoff are determined to make it the best celebration ever. Will Elsa’s icy powers put more than the party at risk?
Frozen Fever is directed by Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, and produced by Peter Del Vecho. There will be an all-new original song by Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez.
ABC Kids Expo Supplement Launches Today
Toys & Family Entertainment has launched a trade supplement for the ABC Kids Expo, which takes place September 7–10 in Las Vegas. Pick up a copy at the show or read it here.
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