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Former Kmart Exec Tapped by Aussie Retail Giant

MELBOURNE -- Australian megaretailer Coles Myer Ltd. has hired a onetime Kmart executive from the United States, Tom Lemke, to further develop its marketing and customer loyalty programs, according to published reports.

Last year Coles decided to discontinue its costly but popular shareholder discount card and launch a department-store loyalty program, Myer one. Additionally, the company's loyalty program includes a Coles Express discount fuel offer and a Coles Myer Source MasterCard.

Under the terms of Myer one, shoppers must have spent at least AUS$1,500 in the past 12 months to get full membership benefits. Members receive shopping credits on all purchases and gift cards every three months on attaining certain credit levels.

By naming Lemke, a 30-year marketing veteran, to the newly created position of group general manager for marketing and customer strategy, Coles hopes to grow sales across its brands by increasing the number of customer store visits and the amounts of money spent at stores.

Lemke, who will report directly to Coles chief executive John Fletcher, is scheduled to join Coles at the end of January.

Lemke comes to the company from U.S. marketing agency and consultancy Bingham Brand Group. In 1997 he became v.p. of Kmart's database marketing, with responsibility for the company's loyalty and marketing programs. Previously he gave marketing advice to such huge worldwide brands as McDonald's and Whirlpool.

The appointment comes three weeks after Coles abruptly fired director of food, liquor, and fuel Steven Cain, who arrived from the United Kingdom to take up the post a little more than a year earlier.

Coles Myer, Australia's biggest retailer, operates over 2,500 stores throughout Australia and New Zealand. The company’s food, fuel, and liquor group includes about 700 Bi-Lo and Coles supermarkets, 625 Liquorland locations, and 600 Coles Express convenience stores. Coles additionally runs Myer Grace Bros department stores and holds the rights from Kmart and Target Corp. to use those names on outlets in Australia and New Zealand.
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