Thursday, January 29, 2015

Key Rite Aid sales metric climbs 4.8 pct in January period

Rite Aid PharmacyRite Aid's revenue from established stores climbed nearly 5 percent in January, as pharmacy sales advanced despite a hit from cheaper generic drugs.

The nation's third-largest drugstore chain said Thursday that revenue from the pharmacies of its established stores rose 5.7 percent, as the prescription count increased 3.5 percent. Revenue from the front end, or the rest of the store, advanced nearly 3 percent in the four-week period that ended Jan. 24.. . . more

Sears cuts 115 corporate jobs


A sign marks the entrance to the headquarters campus of Sears Holding in Hoffman Estates, Illinois. In its latest effort to retool its business and return to profitability, Sears Holdings has laid off 115 corporate workers, including 100 employees at its headquarters in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, effective immediately.

A spokesman for the retailer, Howard Riefs, said the job cuts represent a "mix of positions in various departments across the organization.". . . more

U.S. consumer confidence on the rise

With gas prices down 31% since June 2014 and oil prices tumbling to their lowest levels in several years, American consumer confidence has improved dramatically. According to the Nielsen Consumer Confidence Report, in fourth quarter 2014 U.S. consumer confidence went up 12 percentage points year-over-year.

Americans are feeling good again about their personal finances (up six percentage points) and immediate spending intentions (up eight percentage points). The percentage of Americans who felt it was a good time to spend also increased, by nine percentage points. U.S. shopping trips rebounded in November and December, increasing from 13 trips/month in June to 15 trips/month in December.. . . more

Walmart, Sears top study of most popular store sites on Facebook

A pair of veteran retailers were among the most popular store sites on Facebook during the 2014 holiday season. Sears was the most popular U.S. department store, while Walmart.com was the most popular mass merchant store site, according to a study by Searchmetrics.

The Searchmetrics study analyzed the number of weekly Facebook likes, comments and shares for pages from the websites of nine top US department stores and three mass merchant stores during November and December 2014.. . . more

U.S. jobless claims drop sharply to near 15-year low


Job seekers listen to a presentation at the Colorado Hospital Association health care career fair in Denver April 9, 2013. REUTERS/Rick WilkingThe number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits tumbled last week to its lowest level in nearly 15 years, adding to bullish signals on the labor market.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 43,000 to a seasonally adjusted 265,000 for the week ended Jan. 24, the lowest since April 2000, the Labor Department said on Thursday. It was the biggest weekly decline since November 2012.. . . more

Patriots Place general manager eyes Foxborough expansion

Most of Boston is snowed in right now, but that's not stopping Patriot Place — the open-air shopping complex surrounding Gillette Stadium in Foxborough — from preparing for its biggest Sunday of the year.

You can read about how the Patriot Place General Manager Brian Earley is gearing up for the big game in this Friday's print edition of the Boston Business Journal. But until then, consider what else Earley has on his mind beyond football's biggest game of the year: an expansion of the 1.3 million-square-foot complex, which already includes16 restaurants, a range of retailers, a Brigham & Womens/Mass General health care facility, a 154-room Renaissance Hotel & Spa, a 14-screen movie theater and a Trader Joe's grocery.. . . more

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Fast-fashion apparel giant H&M opening more stores as profit soars

Hennes & Mauritz AB, more commonly known as H&M, has announced plans to open 400 new stores in 2015, a move that comes after the Swedish retailer reported profit leapt 17% for the latest year.

The U.S. is the company’s second-largest sales market after Germany, and an important growth market. H&M opened 51 stores in the U.S. last year — that’s more than any other market outside China, where 86 stores were added. Sales in the U.S. leapt 26%, among the better-performing markets for the year ending on Nov. 30, although H&M’s sales grew broadly across all major markets. . . . more

Consumers’ favorite fashion retailer is…

Nordstrom ranked as consumers’ favorite fashion retailer for the third consecutive year, followed by Kohl’s, T.J. Maxx, Macy’s and Dillard’s. That’s according to a study by Market Force Information, a provider of customer intelligence solutions.

The study also revealed that Foot Locker is consumers’ favorite shoe retailer, followed by Sketcher, Nike, DSW and Famous Footwear. On the digital side, Target has the highest mobile app adoption rate, followed by H&M, Walmart, Nordstrom and Kohl’s.. . . more

Rite Aid to build its first new DC in 15 years

Rite Aid Corp. announced plans to build its first new distribution center in 15 years, a 900,000-sq.-ft. facility in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

The new, $90 million center, set to open in 2016, will employ nearly 600 people after it becomes fully operational and will support the inventory and fulfillment needs of approximately 1,000 Rite Aid stores in the southeastern United States.. . . more

2015 restaurant sales to grow 3.8%

Restaurant sales will grow for the sixth consecutive year, reaching a record high of $709.2 billion in 2015, according to the National Restaurant Association’s latest Restaurant Industry Forecast, released Tuesday.

Buoyed by a steadily improving economy, industry sales will grow by about $26 billion, 3.8 percent, or 1.5 percent in inflation-adjusted terms. That would be the strongest rate of growth in three years, according to the forecast.. . . more

January retail sales up versus last year

National chain-store sales fell 3.6% in the first three weeks of January, from the comparable period in December, according to Redbook Research's latest indicator, released Tuesday.

The index's decline compared with a target for a drop of 3.3%.

The Johnson Redbook Sales Index also showed seasonally adjusted sales for the period improved 3.3% from a year earlier, compared with a target for an increase of 3.6%.
In the third week of January, sales rose 3.2% from a year earlier.. . . more

Monday, January 26, 2015

U.S. performance buoys Delhaize revenue in Q4

The addition of a 53rd week in fiscal 2014 for its U.S. operations helped global grocery conglomerate Delhaize Group make up for disappointing results from its Belgium stores. Including the extra week and benefiting from retail inflation, fourth quarter U.S. revenues were $5.23 billion, a 12% increase from $4.67 billion the same period a year earlier.

“Our fourth quarter revenues at Delhaize America were solid, partly helped by inflation and both Food Lion and Hannaford reported positive real sales growth,” said Frans Muller, president and CEO, Delhaize Group.more
. . .

New Balance and Berkshire Partners form new entity to buy Rockport

Athletic-shoe maker New Balance has teamed up with private-equity firm Berkshire Partners LLC to acquire The Rockport Company from the Adidas Group for $280 million.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

As part of the deal, New Balance affiliate Drydock Footwear LLC, whose brands include Cobb Hill, Aravon and Dunham, will join with The Rockport Co. to create The Rockport Group.. . . more

2015 CEO Outlook: Not taking fuel boost for granted

While the decrease in gas prices should be a boon for consumers in 2015, supermarket CEOs for the most part aren’t taking any chances.

A slate of top leaders interviewed by SN in recent weeks say they are cautiously optimistic that economic conditions led by lower prices at the pump will help improve sales at their stores this year, but they expect they won’t be the only merchants hoping to benefit, citing potential competition from restaurants and other food retailers. And, they say, practices developed during the recession — including an emphasis on price, a willingness to get by on slim margins and a need to differentiate and tweak selections to meet consumer demands — should also continue.. . . more

Millennials Shift Fashion Direction

If you follow the habits of millennials, and wonder where they’re shopping these days, a half dozen or so previously successful youth-oriented fashion retailers who have been experiencing plenty of turmoil recently are asking the same question. Some are attempting to regroup or redefine - and some have already lost the battle.

Among those latter are Deb Shops, which is currently liquidating all 287 stores, andBody Central, which closed all 265 locations just this month. Then there’s Wet Seal,whose namesake stores and Arden B division recently showed consecutive comp store sales declines of 10.1% and 4.1% respectively. With few exceptions, Wet Seal’s quarterly sales comps have been in the red since 2009. Last year, the company announced that it would phase out its Arden B operation; earlier this month, it announced that it would be closing 338 stores, about two-thirds of its remaining units; and as of this writing, Wet Seal finally announced Chapter 11 bankruptcy.. . . more

Amazon learns how to fail faster

AmazonIn just the last couple of days, Amazon shut down its private-label diaper product (only six weeks after launch) and withdrew its mobile wallet (six months after a prominent rollout).

“The company is under a tremendous amount of pressure to throw a lot of things against the wall. There are going to be a lot of things that won’t stick,” said Sucharita Mulpuru, a veteran e-commerce analyst with Forrester Research. “It’s good that they are recognizing that things need to be pulled quickly. No reason to let things linger.”. . . more

Deep Drop in U.S. Gasoline Prices Diminishing

The average price of regular gasoline at U.S. pumps dropped 13.3 cents to $2.0691 a gallon, as the plunge may be abating, according to Lundberg Survey Inc.

Gasoline prices may be nearing a trough after falling in every Lundberg survey since July. Declines have lost steam and prices will be hitting a bottom soon unless there is a renewed plunge in crude oil prices, according to Trilby Lundberg, the president of Lundberg Survey.. . . more

Gap to shutter Piperlime, both online and physical store

Gap Inc. is shutting down its Piperlime business. The company plans to close the brand’s online platform and single store in New York, by the end of the first quarter of fiscal year 2015.

The decision comes as Abe Peck, who has led Gap’s growth, innovation and digital unit, gets ready to step into the CEO suite next month.. . . more

Cache bankruptcy imminent

Apparel retailer Cache Inc. is reportedly preparing to file for bankruptcy as early as the week of Jan. 26. According to Bloomberg, the 237-store chain is feeling the effects of reduced mall traffic and increased online and foreign-based competition.

In December, Cache said it was exploring options and had received an inquiry about a possible purchase. . . . more

Friday, January 23, 2015

Why Are E-Commerce Startups Bullish On Retail?

Retail startups are opening stores in droves. Bonobos has said it will open 30 stores in the next two years. Warby Parker has opened 13 stores and showrooms since 2013 and has been vocal about their plan to open more. Rent the Runway has opened four stores in the past year, and, Birchbox has recently announced the opening of its Soho flagship.

In short, e-commerce companies are bullish on retail, and they’re executing extremely well in this new channel. For many of them, we’re learning something that we may not have quite expected from the onset: retail is a great driver of sales and profitability.. . . more

Strong holiday performance drives Starbucks Q1 growth

Starbucks Corp.’s first-quarter profit surged 82% as new offerings and holiday gave a boost to store traffic. Net income increased to $983.1 million, from $540.7 million a year earlier.

Consolidated net revenues the quarter, ended Dec. 28, increased 13% to $4.8 billion. Global same-store sales increased 5%, with a 2% increase in traffic. Same-store sales in the company’s U.S.-dominated region rose 5%, with a 2% increase in traffic, better than analysts had expected.. . . more

On heels of lost bid, Dollar General CEO Dreiling puts off retirement

Dollar General CEO Rick Dreiling had planned to retire in a few months, but after Family Dollar shareholder’s snubbed his company’s buyout offer, Dreiling said he’ll stick around a bit longer.

Last June, Dollar General indicated that Dreiling would step down as CEO effective May 30, or possibly sooner depending on the conclusion of a search for his successor.

The following month, Dollar Tree and Family Dollar announced plans to merge, prompting Dollar General to make a counter offer that required Dreiling’s attention for the past six months. The deal came to a head Thursday morning when Family Dollar shareholders voted in favor of Dollar Tree’s offer.. . . more

McDonald's posts smaller-than-expected fall in comparable sales


A McDonald's restaurant is pictured in Encinitas, California September 9, 2014. REUTERS/Mike Blake McDonald's Corp reported a smaller-than-expected fall in U.S. and global same-restaurant sales and announced its lowest capital spending budget in more than five years, saying it planned to open fewer restaurants in its troubled markets.

Sales at U.S. restaurants open at least 13 months fell 1.7 percent in the fourth quarter. Analysts on average had expected a fall of 2.1 percent, according to research firm Consensus Metrix.. . . more

Apple Paid Former Burberry Boss $73 Million to Become Its Retail Chief

Former Burberry boss Angela Ahrendts collected some lovely welcoming gifts in her new role overseeing Apple’s retail operations — a compensation package valued at $73.4 million, according to regulatory filings.

Her compensation dwarfed that of all the other named executives at Apple and outpaced the next highest-paid executive, media boss Eddy Cue, by $48.9 million. Ahrendts’ deal highlights the importance of Apple’s lucrative retail operations.. . . more

Big Box Retailer Pounces on J.C. Penney’s Closed Stores

When J.C. Penney Co. announced this month that it would shut 40 U.S. stores, At Home Group Inc. saw an opening.
Executives at the retail chain, which sells home decor in warehouses and other large spaces, checked the list of targeted stores and called J.C. Penney within a few hours to express interest in buying some of them. It helps that At Home had already researched J.C. Penney’s more than 1,000 U.S. locations ahead of time, just as a shopper would gear up for a big sale.. . . more

The Shake Shack Economy

In 2004, when Danny Meyer opened a burger stand named Shake Shack in Madison Square Park, it didn’t look like the foundation of a global empire. There was just one location, and Meyer was known for high-end venues like Gramercy Tavern. But the lines became legendary, and in 2008 other outlets started appearing—first in New York, then in the rest of the country, then as far afield as Moscow and Dubai. Today, Shake Shack brings in at least a hundred million dollars a year and is planning an I.P.O. that could value the company at a billion dollars. That seems like a lot of burgers, but Meyer’s venture was perfectly timed to capitalize on a revolution in the fast-food business, the rise of restaurants known in the trade as “fast-casual”—places like Panera, Five Guys, and Chipotle.. . . more

Thursday, January 22, 2015

A Structural Shift in the Retail Market?

Improvements in the retail sector in the fourth quarter were once again tepid. The national vacancy rate for neighborhood and community centers declined by just 10 basis points, to 10.2 percent, a slight improvement from the third quarter when vacancy remained unchanged. For full-year 2014, vacancy declined by just 20 basis points. National vacancy is now down 90 basis points from its historical peak during the third quarter of 2011, representing an improvement of less than 10 basis points per quarter. This is an incredibly meager amount by historical standards, and is indicative of the headwinds that this property type continues to face.. . . more

Kroger May Be Eyeing a Big Acquisition: Here Are a Few Likely Candidates

Kroger is second only to Wal-Mart in terms of size, operating over 2,600 stores that generated over $100 billion in revenues last year, giving it a lot of muscle to flex.

Having finished digesting its acquisition of Harris-Teeter, this grocery store giant  is rumored to have an appetite for yet another acquisition. While there's no real basis for the speculation, other than a bond analyst saying "all signs point to management's willingness to make a major acquisition," Wall Street is trying to piece together where it might move next.. . . more

Grady, Hano Join KeyPoint Partners Brokerage Team

KeyPoint Partners, LLC, the Burlington, Massachusetts commercial real estate service firm, has added two senior members to its brokerage teams: Noah Hano has joined the firm as Vice President of Investment Sales, and Robert A. Grady as Vice President of Leasing.

Noah Hano has over 20 years of commercial real estate experience including, acquisitions, dispositions, asset management and fund management, and has been involved in over 350 transactions valued in excess of $500 million.

Rob Grady has over 34 years of experience in commercial real estate, and has been responsible for hundreds of millions of dollars in transactions for national retailers including Lowe’s, Wal-Mart, CarMax, and ExxonMobil. His expertise includes creating and executing excess property sales strategy, store deployment strategy, and complex, multi-layer negotiations.. . . more
One of the largest eyewear brands in Japan is entering the United States. Tokyo-based Jins, a pioneer of “smart” eyewear, will open a flagship in San Francisco, and launch a U.S. e-commerce site this spring.

Jins, founded in 2001, currently operates more than 300 stores in Japan and China.  The company specializes in fashion-forward prescription and nonprescription eyewear at affordable prices. Jins’ frames, including lenses, will retail for between $60-$120. . . . more

Family Dollar shareholders approve Dollar Tree deal

After months of delay and a failed bid by Dollar General, Family Dollar shareholders agreed to be acquired by Dollar Tree in a deal that creates a combined company with more than 14,000 locations, estimated annual sales of $19 billion and compelling growth opportunities.

Approval of the deal creates a new competitive dynamic in the world of extreme value retailing with the combination of Dollar Tree and Family Dollar making for a more formidable competitor to Dollar General and its nearly 12,000 stores.. . . more

Sears Is Poised for a Rebound: Tenth Avenue Portfolio Manager

Sears Holdings is poised to benefit from its moves to cut its physical space and increase its e-commerce operations, said Don Ingham, a portfolio manager at Tenth Avenue Holdings, a New York-based private-equity and real estate investment firm.

"Because they were in such a poor financial position, they started much earlier than other retailers to pivot toward e-commerce and to reduce their physical footprint substantially," Ingham told TheStreet TV's Gregg Greenberg on Wednesday.. . . more

Toys "R" Us, Babies "R" Us will trade 25 percent discounts for used or recalled baby items

Cribs RecallToys "R" Us and Babies "R" Us stores will offer 25 percent off cribs, high chairs, strollers, car seats and other essentials to consumers who turn in used and potentially unsafe second-hand baby items.

The month-long promotion starts Friday, Jan. 23 and runs through Feb. 21 at the baby retailers' 893 stores nationwide.. . . more

Mohegan suit seen as long shot

A lawsuit the city of Revere, Mohegan Sun and a local electrical workers union filed yesterday against the state Gaming Commission, claiming members “ignored the law and manipulated the application process” when they gave Wynn Resorts the Boston region’s sole gaming license, will be extremely difficult to win, according to a leading expert on gaming law.

“These (lawsuits) are almost always unsuccessful,” said I. Nelson Rose, a professor at Whittier Law School in Costa Mesa, Calif. “I don’t think it’s going to mean much. I’m not even sure it’s going to delay the plan (to build a Wynn resort casino in Everett).”. . . more