BIRMINGHAM – The Alabama Retail Association, in cooperation with the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Business, today recognized 18 outstanding Alabama retailers representing 13 retail businesses with operations in 29 Alabama cities and 16 states as “Retailers of the Year.” The presentations were made at The Club in Birmingham during the 2012 Retail Day Luncheon. This marked the 13th presentation of the Retailer of the Year Awards since 1999.
Jan Clevenger, chairman of the Western Division for Belk Department Store, the nation’s largest privately owned department store, earned the Silver Retailer of the Year Award in the Annual Sales $20 Million category. Belk has 305 stores in 16 southern states, including Alabama where it operates 22 stores and employs about 2,000. Victor M. Brown, vice president of Minority and Small Business Development for the Birmingham Business Alliance, nominated Clevenger for the award. Belk has been an ARA member since 2007.
Belk has stores in Alabaster, Auburn, Birmingham, Cullman, Decatur, Dothan, Florence, Gadsden, Guntersville, Homewood, Huntsville, Jasper, Mobile, Montgomery, Prattville, Selma, Spanish Fort, Tuscaloosa and Trussville. The Decatur and Spanish Fort stores underwent remodeling this year.
“Belk Inc. walks the walk, in terms of corporate and social responsibility,” Brown said in his nomination of Clevenger and Belk. While the department store chain’s sales and profit growth impressed the Retailer of the Year judges, Belk scored highest among the judges for community service. Of special note to the judges was Belk’s half a million dollar contribution to tornado relief in Alabama: $100,000 to the United Way of Central Alabama; $100,000 to the American Red Cross in Alabama, $100,000 to the city of Tuscaloosa, $150,000 to the Tuscaloosa City Board of Education and $50,000 to the Tuscaloosa County Board of Education.
“The citizens of Tuscaloosa have supported Belk for so many years,” Clevenger said at the time. “The April (2011) tornadoes touched all of us in the company, because we knew so many of our loyal customers and employees were among those affected. We’re thankful for this opportunity to help.” Belk’s corporate contributions to Alabama didn’t stop with the tornadoes. According to Clevenger’s Retailer of the Year entry, Belk also has contributed to such worthy causes as the Birmingham Humane Society, Birmingham Children’s Theatre, the YWCA of Central Alabama and the Alabama Symphony. The Belk Family Foundation also gave to the A+ Education Partnership, the Birmingham chapter of the National Summer Learning Association and the UAB Children’s Creative Learning Center to name just a few.
While Belk has existed for 124 years, it first began its corporate presence in Alabama six years ago. In August of 2006, Charlotte, N.C.-based Belk bought the Alabama-based Parisian chain from Saks Inc. The Parisian stores were rebranded in 2007 as Belk stores. In 2007, ARA and UAB recognized the Belk and Hess families as “Retail Giants.” The special one-time awards recognized the significant contributions to retailing made by Parisian and the Hess family as well as Belk Inc. and the Belk family. The Fashion Institute of Technology recently honored the Belk family for its outstanding leadership and achievements in retailing during a benefit event that raised $1.4 million for scholarships, technology and student services at the Institute.
Alabama Retail Association President Rick Brown said, “Jan Clevenger is a retailer of the year EVERY year to her customers, employees and the 19 Alabama communities where Belk has stores.”
ABOUT ALABAMA RETAIL
The Alabama Retail Association represents retailers, the largest private employer in the state of Alabama, before the Alabama Legislature and the U.S. Congress. Our 4,000 independent merchant and national company members sell food, clothing, furniture and other general merchandise at more than 6,000 locations throughout Alabama. ARA promotes what is best for the retailing industry in Alabama and has been doing so since 1943. From legislation to education, through communication and member services, ARA members benefit from the value of membership in their association. Retail works!
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