SOURCE: Columbus Consulting, Inc.

August 01, 2006 12:33 ET

Columbus Consulting Announces 7thOnline as Title Sponsor for September Assortment Planning Conference in New York City

COLUMBUS, OH and NEW YORK, NY -- (MARKET WIRE) -- August 1, 2006 --Assortment Planning: The Holy Grail of Retail -- Columbus Consulting, Inc. (CCI), a leading retail consulting firm, today announced that 7thOnline, a leading provider of assortment planning and optimization solutions to the apparel, footwear, and accessories community, has agreed to be the title sponsor of Columbus Consulting's two-day retail conference and exhibition, "Assortment Planning: The Holy Grail of Retail." The conference and exhibition is scheduled for September 13-14, 2006 at the American Conference Center in New York City.

The conference is tailored for retail managers, senior managers, directors and executives who are currently responsible for assortment planning and allocation, merchandising, purchasing and data management. Retail industry representatives interested in participating in the conference can register online at the conference Web site at http://www.columbusconsultinginc.com/grail/index.asp or email info@cbusinc.com.

"Assortment planning continues to be an important topic in retail as advancements in technology and business discipline enable retailers to drive greater value out of this critical piece of the merchandising process," said Max Ma, Chief Executive Officer of 7thOnline. "Columbus Consulting's event will provide unique and valuable insights into how this can be achieved through an impressive line-up of speakers and industry experts. The conference's content is perfectly aligned with our goal of providing intelligent assortment planning solutions that enable retailers to be more proactive in driving profitable assortments."

"We are pleased that 7thOnline has committed to support our conference as the title sponsor," said Rick Amari, president of Columbus Consulting. "Like the theme of our conference, assortment planning is also the holy grail of 7thOnline's operations. 7thOnline will provide a valuable perspective for the conference attendees on the importance of the assortment planning process, and how it can dramatically impact the bottom line. We look forward to 7thOnline's participation and efforts to help make this a successful event."

The conference will be kicked-off by keynote speaker Dale Achabal, director of the Retail Management Institute and the Retail Workbench Research & Education Center, and the L.J. Skaggs Distinguished Professor and Associate Dean for Research & Development at Santa Clara University. Additional speakers will include:

--  Lisa Bachmann, chief information officer, senior vice president
    planning and allocation, Big Lots,
--  Debbi Berit, executive vice president, planning and allocation, Ann
    Taylor,
--  Jeff Gragg, executive director, IT, Hallmark Cards,
--  Dr. Saman Hong, vice president, analytics and optimization solutions,
    7thOnline,
--  Maryann McGeorge, senior vice president, retail operations, Polo Ralph
    Lauren, and
--  Beth Thomas, executive vice president of learning solutions, Sequent.
    
In addition to the conference tracks and speakers, the conference will have a Vendor Exhibition that will allow attendees to preview the latest software offerings from a variety of assortment planning solution providers and complementary technology vendors.

The two-day conference has been designed to help educate attendees about a number of issues related to assortment planning, as well as provide participants with active forums for discussions among retailers and industry experts. The overall themes of the conference will include:

--  Benefits of improving assortment planning practices;
--  Current trends in assortment planning processes;
--  Leveraging science to enhance merchandising decisions;
--  Synchronizing with merchandise planning, space planning, and
    allocation;
--  Challenges in managing implementation projects; and
--  Leveraging data warehouse investments to support assortment planning.
    

More information about the conference, including registration forms, presentation tracks, sponsorships and vendor exhibits can be found at http://www.columbusconsultinginc.com/Grail or by emailing info@cbusinc.com.

About 7thOnline, Inc.

7thOnline provides comprehensive assortment planning and optimization solutions targeted to the global apparel, footwear, and accessories community. 7thOnline's on-demand solution suite encompasses visual and quantitative top-down and bottom-up assortment planning tools, powerful analytical and optimization engines, and automatic order transmission capabilities in multiple formats. Customer results include higher sell-thru and lower markdowns through better assortments at the door level, better inventory matching due to earlier supply/demand visibility, shorter cycle times due to the streamlined process, and reduced operational costs resulting from significantly reduced administrative tasks and error rates. 7thOnline's user community currently includes Belk, Dillard's, Federated Department Stores, Jones Apparel Group, Kellwood, Kohl's, Liz Claiborne, Saks Inc., and many others. For more information, visit http://www.7thonline.com/.

About Columbus Consulting, Inc.

Founded by industry veteran Richard Amari in 2001, Columbus Consulting comprises a team of highly experienced specialists in retail business process and systems. The company works with many of the world's largest and well-known retailers, including American Eagle Outfitters, Ann Taylor, Saks, Big Lots, Guitar Center, CVS Pharmacy, and New York & Company. While Columbus Consulting is called upon to provide a variety of services, their primary focus is in planning & allocation, reporting & analysis, data warehousing and IT strategy/leadership. Projects range in scope from managing short-term, high-impact, executive-level advisory services to overseeing large, multi-disciplinary, multi-million dollar projects, lasting more than a year. For more information on Columbus Consulting, visit www.columbusconsultinginc.com.

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