Friday, April 18, 2014

Is Whole Foods Market Still a Good Buy?

Natural and organic food retailer Whole Foods Market has been disappointing this year, as shares are down almost 16%. Moreover, the company failed to impress the Street with its first-quarter results released in February. Whole Foods' revenue and earnings came in below consensus estimates. Also, the company lowered its 2014 sales and profit forecast for the second time this year.

The company had to lower prices to attract more customers as it faces tough competition from Kroger, which is looking to make the most of the natural and organic  food market. In addition, the fact that Wal-Mart Stores is now looking to enter this space is another concerning factor for Whole Foods.. . . more

Barnes & Noble Falls After Founder Riggio Sells Shares

Barnes & Noble Inc., the operator of more than 1,300 retail and college bookstores, fell in New York trading after Chairman Leonard Riggio said he sold 3.7 million shares of the company he founded.

Chief Executive Officer Mike Huseby is looking to further narrow losses on the company’s Nook tablet division, while other units like the retail stores remain profitable. Huseby said in February that the board would consider share buybacks this year and also is discussing whether to separate its digital or college businesses from its retail stores.

Barnes & Noble also said in February it isn’t considering a $22-a-share takeover proposal New York-based G Asset Management LLC made to the company that month.. . . more

Gap details omni-channel strategy, global growth

Gap Inc. highlighted its use of technology and innovation to bridge the growing digital world with its physical stores at the company’s annual meeting with investors. In new initiatives, the retailer is expanding its reserve in-store service to all U.S. Gap stores by the end of the second quarter, enabling online and mobile shoppers to now reserve items at more than 1,000 Gap and Banana Republic store locations.

In addition, the company will be testing its new order in store capability, which allows customers instant access to expanded product offerings online.  . . . more

Local franchisee hopes to bring new fast-casual pizza chain to Boston

Mitch Roberts believes Boston is hungry for a Chipotle-style pizza parlor.

The assembly-line format popularized by the fast-casual Mexican chain is emerging in the pizza business, and Roberts wants a slice of it. That’s why Roberts and partner David Peterman signed a franchise agreement with Blaze Pizza last week to bring the Pasadena, Calif.-based chain into the Boston market.. . . more

Retailer Michaels Stores confirms payment card data breach

A Michaels arts and crafts store is seen in the Loma Portal area of San Diego, California January 27, 2014. REUTERS/Sam Hodgson
 Michaels Stores Inc, the biggest U.S. arts and crafts retailer, on Thursday confirmed that there was a security breach at certain systems that process payment cards at its U.S. stores and that of its unit, Aaron Brothers. 
Michaels Stores said the breach, which took place between May 8, 2013 and January 27, 2014, may have affected about 2.6 million cards, or about 7 percent of payment cards used at its stores during the period.. . . more

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Home Depot puts a lid on new-store openings

Home Depot Inc is putting a lid on new-store openings and focusing its expansion efforts on e-commerce, which presents some logistical challenges for a retailer that sells a lot of bulky materials, the Wall Street Journal reported.

"The retail model forever was to increase sales through opening additional units, but as you added stores to a finite group of households, each store becomes less profitable," Home Depot Chief Executive Frank Blake told the Journal in an interview.. . .
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3 big retail trends to watch for

The future of retail
The Internet has upended nearly every industry, but perhaps no category has undergone a more radical transformation than retail. Near-global access to the Internet and speedy adoption rates of smartphones have spawned countless changes to the way we shop and how retailers compete. In the coming years, there will be many more changes, but here are three big trends to watch for. 

Long live brick-and-mortar stores

Many big-box retailers are either closing (e.g. Borders, Circuit City) or struggling (e.g., Toys 'R' Us, Best Buy), as the business model of providing consumers with a huge assortment of products at very low price is better delivered online. And as we see more chain stores close, it seems we just don't need as many physical outlets (did we ever?) since price-based and repeat buying are easier online.. . . more

Mrs. Fields looks beyond the mall

It's a sorry state of affairs when Mrs. Fields is struggling to make it in the mall.

For the past five years the iconic cookie purveyor has seen its sales slip because of declining traffic in lower- and mid-tier malls and an influx of competition from the likes of Cinnabon, Auntie Anne's, and Wetzel's Pretzels. The math is tough: The typical Mrs. Fields outlet needs to sell 200 cookies a day just to cover the rent. Not surprisingly, it's hard to attract new franchisees when your existing operators' sales are dropping.. . . more

Sycamore splits Jones Group into four businesses; CEO Card to step down

Sycamore Partners announced that it has reorganized the remaining businesses of The Jones Group into four independent operating companies: the Nine West Group, a jeanswear company (which will be named later), Jones New York, and the Kasper Group. Each will operate as an independent company led by its own management team. In line with the new decentralized structure, Wesley R. Card will step down as CEO and John T. McClain will step down as CFO of The Jones Group. . . more

Sam’s Club Expands SquareTrade CE Coverage

Sam’s Club is offering extended-service coverage for a wide array of CE products under a newly expanded pact with SquareTrade.

The program, available in Sam’s Club locations and online, now provides protection and service plans for TVs, smartphones, tablets, media players, computers, printers, cameras, gaming consoles and headphones.. . . more

Fast-casual chain Cosi is moving its HQ to Boston from the Chicago area

cosi sandwich shopNew CEO R.J. Dourney of struggling fast-casual chain Cosi Inc. told shareholders today that he’s going to move the corporate office from the Chicago area to downtown Boston.

“It’s critical that the office be embedded in our most successful market,” Dourney said on the call. “Boston reveres Cosi. We have a tremendous reputation as a company and a brand in Boston and we’re going to leverage that. ... more

Fed sees moderate expansion, per Beige Book

Federal Reserve Banks around the country, including the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, released their eight-times-a-year survey of economic conditions commonly referred to as the Beige Book today.

Overall, Boston researchers wrote: "The First District economy continues to expand moderately, according to business contacts, although growth rates vary across sectors and firms."

Here are highlights from the Boston researchers by industry:. . . more

RadioShack Mired in Talks With Lenders Over Closings

RadioShack Corp.is mired in negotiations with its lenders over plans to close as many as 1,100 stores, complicating the struggling consumer-electronics retailer's turnaround efforts, said people familiar with the talks.

The delay also is intensifying tensions with some lenders, who were surprised by the store-closing plan when RadioShack publicly disclosed it on March 4, the people said.. . . more

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Boston neighbors oppose plan for marijuana dispensary to replace sex-toy shop

Weeks after a licensed medical marijuana dispensary was chased out of a potential site in the Back Bay, the same company is facing similar opposition from neighbors in Boston’s Theater District.
Good Chemistry Massachusetts received two of the first 20 provisional licenses issued by the commonwealth in January to open medical marijuana dispensaries. The company’s first store is planned for Harrison Street in Worcester. However, its efforts to land a storefront in Boston have sparked controversy at every turn.. . . more

Best Buy's Joly: Web retailers should collect sales tax

Best Buy Co. Inc. CEO Hubert Joly on Tuesday urged Congress to force online merchants to collect sales tax from customers, in his most forceful public statement on the matter to date.

Joly said the company’s top legislative priority is enactment of a bill like the Marketplace Fairness Act, which would allow states to apply sales tax to all online purchases regardless of whether the seller has a physical presence in the state. The measure passed the U.S. Senate in 2013 but has stalled in the House.. . . more

Tesco to debut F&F apparel format in U.S., with seven stores by year-end

Tesco Plc plans to bring its value-priced F&F clothing format to the United States, opening seven stores on the East Coast this year with its U.S. franchise partner, Retail Group of America. The move comes some six months after Tesco sold off its struggling American supermarket operation, Fresh & Easy, to Ron Burkle's Yucaipa investment company.

 The new stores will feature women’s, men’s and kid’s clothing, with the first location expected to open in May, in the Boston area. . . . more

BRA cancels review of $80M Cleveland Circle project

0411 Cleveland Circle Cinema ProjectThe Boston Redevelopment Authority has retreated from a plan to review an $80 million proposal to transform the shuttered Cleveland Circle Cinema in Brighton amid vocal opposition from neighborhood groups.

The move follows  a Boston Business Journal report earlier this week that the BRA was considering a revised plan to bring a mixed-use development to the property. The development was slated to appear on the board’s agenda this week. Typically, items that make it on the agenda win unanimous board approval.. . . more

Wahlburgers CEO lines up leases for two more Boston-area restaurants

A lease was signed for a 4,500-square-foot Wahlburgers location at the MarketStreet lifestyle center in Lynnfield within the last two weeks.

Wahlburgers has also reached terms for a lease for a 4,200-square-foot space in a Samuels & Associates development in Boston’s Fenway section, and a lease signing is probably about two weeks away. . . more

Connecticut casinos report drop in slot revenue

Connecticut’s Indian-run casinos say slot machine revenue fell sharply in March, with Foxwoods Resort Casino citing an “ultra-competitive” market.

Foxwoods reported yesterday that the share of wagers, known as revenue, was $44.6 million, down 10 percent from March 2013. Total slot machine wagering at the Mashantucket Pequot tribal casino was $566 million, down 5 percent.

The Mohegan Sun reported revenue of $51.9 million in March, down 12 percent. Total wagering was $625.6 million, an 11 percent drop from more than $700 million.. . . more