Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Life Time Athletic Westwood opening in summer 2015

Image result for life time fitnessLife Time Athletic Westwood at University Station is currently under construction at 44 Harvard Street in Westwood, MA with a planned opening in summer 2015.

Life Time Athletic Westwood will offer members a host of amenities, including indoor and outdoor aquatics centers with zero-depth entry pools; a lap pool; 5 dedicated group exercise, cycle, Pilates and LifePower Yoga studios; 400 pieces of best-in-class cardiovascular and resistance training equipment; two full-size indoor basketball courts; Life Time Kids Academy for kids from three months to 11 years, and LifeSpa, offering full-service hair, nail and skin care services and therapeutic massage. . . . more

Macy’s CFO blames millennials, Netflix and lipstick haters on shifting retail landscape

You lipstick-hating, tech-savvy millennials are killing Macy’s mojo.

On Tuesday, Macy’s CFO Karen Hoguet blamed Netflix Inc. millennials and women who like to shop without wearing makeup on weaknesses in the luxury retail market.

“We did some consumer research, and the customers said, she likes going to the off-price retailers because she doesn’t have to put lipstick on,” Hoguet said at an industry conference, according to a transcript of the event. “I’ve walked through a lot of malls. I’m not sure.. . . more

How Maine Bootmaker L.L. Bean Became Fashion's Hottest Company

In the rarefied world of high fashion it isn’t unusual for a gown or purse to become so sought-after that people will wait in line for it. The list for Herm├Ęs’ prim $70,000 Birkin handbag was once years long. Last year Italian couturier Fendi released a small fox fur and mink key chain in the likeness of designer Karl Lagerfeld and claimed the wait list to pay $1,750 was 600 deep.

So it must come as a shock to global fashionistas that the most coveted item in recent memory costs a mere $109 and comes from the rugged New England town of Freeport, Maine rather than an atelier in Paris or Milan. In December outdoor outfitters L.L. Bean announced that the wait list for its unglamorous, all-weather Bean Boots had reached an incredible 100,000 customers.. . . more

Is a McDonald’s REIT a Foolish Idea?

McDonald’s Corp. is once again facing pressure to spin off its real estate holdings, as shareholder and hedge fund manager Larry Robbins claims the move could unlock $20 billion in value. McDonald’s owns 70 percent of its restaurant buildings and 45 percent of the land those buildings are built on at a time when net-leased real estate is highly prized.

But will McDonald’s management actually listen to the suggestion? And would it be a good idea? Earlier this year, Nation’s Restaurant News ran an article that argued that McDonald’s will never get rid of its real estate assets. The reason is that McDonald’s uses its buildings more as a landlord—renting the space to its franchisees to the tune of $6.1 billion a year and at a profit margin of 82.7 percent—than a restaurant operator.. . . more

Standard General reportedly posts winning bid in RadioShack bankruptcy auction

Standard General prevailed in a bid for the assets of bankrupt electronics retailer RadioShack Corp., according to people familiar with the situation.

Standard General was RadioShack’s largest shareholder and provided a $535 million rescue-financing package to the Fort Worth, Texas-based retailer last year. RadioShack subsequently filed for bankruptcy protection in February. Any sale requires approval of the bankruptcy court in Wilmington, Delaware.. . . more

H&M opening 400 stores in 2015 amid 36% jump in Q1 profit

Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) on Tuesday posted a 36% jump in its first quarter profit, easily beating forecasts, and confirmed earlier reports that it plans to open 400 stores in its current fiscal year, with most of the locations in China and the United States. In New York, it will open a 61,000-sq.-ft. flagship — one of the largest H&Ms to date — in Manhattan’s Herald Square area.
The Swedish fast-fashion giant is also entering a number of markets including Taiwan, Peru, Macau South Africa and India. On the digital front, H&M will enter nine new online markets in 2015: Portugal, Poland, the Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Belgium and Switzerland.. . . more

The golden days of “40 percent off” sales are over

If you’re an avid shopper, there’s a good chance you’ve asked yourself some variation of these questions lately: Wasn’t that store offering a “40 percent off your purchase” promotion the last time I came to the mall? And maybe the time before that?

Indeed, such promotions have become a mainstay at major e-commerce sites and brick-and-mortar stores since the economic downturn, when deep discounts seemed to be the only way to get anxious consumers to make a purchase. For years after the recession ended, the promotions bonanza didn’t slow down as retailers realized that shoppers had become hooked on deals and weren’t ready to give them up.. . . more

Five Guys is losing its most important customers

Morgan Stanley Five Guys is losing favor among millennials, according to Morgan Stanley analysts.

Analysts asked millennials which restaurants they were most likely to visit in the next six months, and Five Guys was a clear loser across all generations. . . . more

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Pirch enters the Northeast, opens 20,000-sq.-ft. store at Garden State Plaza

 High-end home appliances and outfitting retailer Pirch will open its first store in the Northeast, at Garden State Plaza in Paramus, New Jersey, on March 28.

The 20,000-sq.-ft. store, the company’s eighth to date, allows shoppers to "test-drive" a carefully-curated collection of premier kitchen, bath, laundry, and outdoor living brands in a highly interactive and sensory environment.. . . more

Higher gas costs lift US consumer prices 0.2 percent

A modest rebound in gas costs and broad gains in other categories lifted consumer prices for the first time in four months, a sign inflation may be stabilizing.

The consumer price index rose 0.2 percent in February, the Labor Department said Tuesday, after dropping 0.7 percent the previous month. January's decline was the biggest in six years.. . . more

RadioShack's future rides on bankruptcy auction

An auction Monday afternoon may decide if RadioShack becomes nothing but a distant memory or a seriously slimmed-down electronics retailer trying to survive in a tough market.

All of RadioShack's inventory — and everything else owned by the iconic retailer, whose roots trace back more than 90 years — was on the block. The Fort Worth company, once a haven for ham radios and walkie-talkies, but which never fully embraced the digital age, is facing a live or die moment.. . . more

Big restaurant chains do well overall, but some slip

Bigger is often said to be better, but some big restaurant chains may not agree. The 500 largest restaurant chains in the U.S. accelerated their cumulative sales growth in 2014 to a 4% increase, totaling an estimated $274.4 billion, according to data released by Technomic Inc.

But some of the biggest brands among them, namely Subway and McDonald's, lost ground to focused-menu competitors and emerging fast-casual chains and reported overall sales decreases for the year.. . . more

Many happy returns for REI members

Outdoor retail co-op REI is being very “cooperative” in returning $168 million to its members. In 2014, 945,000 new members joined the co-op, taking active membership to a high of 5.5 million.

For the year, REI reported record annual revenues of $2.2 billion, a 10% increase from 2013. When the co-op performs well, active members receive an annual 10% dividend, based on their eligible annual purchases.

REI reported same-store sales growth, including direct-to-consumer sales, of 4.2%. REI Adventures grew 19.4% in 2014, while REI Outdoor School grew by 28% in 2014 through in-store classes, field programs and day outings.. . . more

Foxwoods New Bedford Casino Still Alive After Gaming Board Grants Extension

A statue of a Native American smoking a ceremonial pipe greets visitors outside the Grand Pequot Tower at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, Conn. Library Tag 03112007 Travel - New England Library Tag 05202007 MetroThe Massachusetts Gaming Commission voted on Thursday to give the developers behind proposed New Bedford and Somerset casinos 46 more days—until Monday, May 4—to complete its applications for the state’s last remaining casino license, in the southeastern part of the state.

Additionally, KG Urban, the developer behind the New Bedford casino, which would be operated by Foxwoods, struck a host city agreement with Mayor John Mitchell Thursday. The agreement will pay New Bedford $12.5 million per year and $4.5 million upfront if the casino is built, according to a news release from KG Urban. It’s a big swing from two weeks ago, when a deal between the city and the developer looked to be just about dead.. . . more

Frank Pepe Pizzeria’s First Boston Location Will Be in Chestnut Hill

Image result for frank pepe pizzeriaFrank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana has settled on a new Boston-area location: Chestnut Hill.

Locally known simply as Pepe’s, the New Haven-based pizzeria will open its new location in The Mall at Chestnut Hill on 199 Boylston Street, which was originally rumored by Boston Restaurant Talk in February. According to the Globe, the pizzeria will fill the 3,200-square-foot, 85-seat space last occupied by Italian restaurant Papa Razzi in June 2013.. . . more

Monday, March 23, 2015

New York & Company swings to Q4 loss, will close stores

New York & Company Inc. reported a net loss of $6.7 million in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2014, compared to net income of $6.9 million in the same quarter a year earlier. A variety of costs, including increased selling, general and administrative (SG&A) expenses as well as expenses related to relocation of corporate headquarters and severance, contributed to New York & Company’s negative profit results.

For fiscal year 2015, New York & Company expects to open approximately three new New York & Company stores, between 11 and 15 new outlet stores, convert nine New York & Company locations to new outlet stores, remodel between eight and 12 existing stores and close between 18 and 22 stores, ending the fiscal year with between 496 and 504 stores, including between 82 and 86 outlet stores.. . . more

Tiffany swings to Q4 profit: will open 12-15 stores

The elimination of a one-time adverse legal ruling helped Tiffany & Co. swing from loss to profit in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2014, but a strengthening dollar hurt overall sales. Tiffany reported net earnings of $196 million, compared to a net loss of $104 million the same period a year earlier.

However, worldwide net sales of $1.28 billion were down 1% from $1.3 billion, with the stronger U.S. dollar negatively impacting foreign sales results. Same-store sales dropped 4%.

During fiscal 2015, Tiffany plans to open a net of 12-15 new company-operated stores across most regions. . . . more

Sorry, J. Crew. Female shoppers just aren’t that into you.

A J. Crew store. (Bloomberg)It wasn’t long ago that J. Crew was the envy of the retail industry. Its distinctive look — well-made basics bedecked with a splash of sequins or a door-knocker-sized necklace — stood out from less adventurous retailers in the same price range and helped the brand triple its revenue and between 2003 and 2013.

And yet 2014 marked a turn in fortunes for the retailer. The company recently reported that sales at its stores open more than a year fell 2 percent in 2014. In the crucial holiday quarter, the brand’s financial picture was especially cloudy, with revenue decreasing slightly to $620.7 million and comparable sales sliding 5 percent.. . . more

Smashburger to Open in Westwood

Smashburger to Open in WestwoodSmashburger, the nation’s “better burger” restaurant, announced Friday that it will open its second New England location at 203 University Ave. at University Station in Westwood.

The restaurant will open at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, April 1. . . . more

Mattress Firm plans 200-220 new stores in fiscal 2015

Mattress Firm Holding Corp. is revving up its growth in fiscal 2015, with plans to open 200 to 220 new stores.

“We are focused on consolidating our operations in 2015 around our three primary brick and mortar brands, Mattress Firm, Sleep Train and Mattress Pro, allowing us to concentrate on enhancing profitability across the enterprise consistent with our proven relative market share model,” said Steve Stagner, CEO. “We look forward to enhancing our position in 2015 as the nation’s largest mattress specialty retailer.". . . more

Plainville slots parlor scheduled to open June 24

Image result for slot parlorThe first gambling facility authorized under the state's 4-year old casino legislation is scheduled to open June 24.

Officials from Penn National Gaming, the owners of Plainridge, say the facility will also offer dining and entertainment at nine restaurants, retail space and a parking garage. Harness racing will continue.. . . more

Toys ‘R’ Us swings to Q4 profit; targets $100 to $175 million in spending cuts

Toys “R” Us Inc. swung to a profit in the fourth quarter, amid a major restructuring initiative that looks to cut up to another $175 million in expenses.

Net sales fell 5% to $4.98 billion.

Same store sales were down 4.5% primarily driven by declines in the entertainment, learning and seasonal categories, the retailer said.. . . more

Friday, March 20, 2015

Michaels profit up 18%, but issues soft outlook for 2015

The Michaels Cos. reported Thursday its net income rose 18% to $157 million in the fourth quarter, up from $133 million in the year-earlier period. But the retailer gave a soft outlook for the year, citing, among other things, unfavorable Canadian exchange rates and the impact of the West Coast port slowdown.

Michaels expects fiscal 2015 total net sales growth of 3.2% to 3.7% or 4.4% to 4.9% on a constant currency basis and a comparable store sales increase of 1.5% to 2.0% or 2.7% to 3.2% on a constant currency basis.. . . more

Sears expects REIT by June 1, defends early vendor payment

Sears Holding Corp. expects to form a real estate investment trust (REIT) within a few months and sees nothing wrong with paying vendors early. In a public blog post, Rob Schrieshiem, executive VP and CFO of Sears, said the company expects to form an REIT to purchase between 200 and 300 stores by June 1, 2015.

As a result, Sears will manage those stores as a pure real estate company and expects to obtain cash proceeds of more than $2 billion, which the blog post said would provide it with “substantially more financial flexibility to improve our operations, address any vendor concerns and meet our obligations.”. . . more

Walmart leads Target in one-stop basket price study

Walmart narrowly leads the one-stop basket assessment versus Target, according to the latest Kantar Retail basket pricing study, which examines a basket of grocery, HBA, and general merchandise items. Study findings indicate Target’s overall basket is 3.5% more expensive than Walmart’s and Walmart leads in each of the sub-baskets, with the strongest lead in general merchandise.

The price index between basket items was narrow, with 76% of the basket items priced within 3% of each other.. . . more

Amazon Wins Approval to Test Delivery Drones Outdoors

Image result for amazon drone Federal regulators have given Amazon a green light to begin testing drones, but it will most likely take years before the online retailer can start delivering packages from the air to peoples’ homes.

The Federal Aviation Administration on Thursday gave Amazon permission to conduct test flights of its drones outdoors, as long as the company obeys a host of rules like flying below 400 feet and only during daylight hours.. . . more