Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Dollar Tree profit jumps 20 percent

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Discount retailer Dollar Tree Inc said on Tuesday quarterly profit rose 20 percent as more customers came into its stores for low prices on basic items like food and cleaning supplies.

While other retailers have cut their sales and profit forecast for the crucial year-end holiday quarter, Dollar Tree, which sells most of its merchandise for $1, expects its momentum to continue into the fourth quarter as shoppers look to stretch limited budgets.

"We are gaining new customers and increasing market share," Dollar Tree Chief Executive Bob Sasser told analysts on a conference call. "Our customer traffic and transaction size has increased. More people are shopping our stores and they're buying more when they visit." . . . more

U.S. strip malls suffer as retail tenants disappear

NEW YORK, Nov 26 (Reuters) - Along a congested highway in New Jersey lies a small strip mall whose challenges illuminate those of malls throughout the the United States as their tenants are brought low by the economic slump.

In the past several weeks, the eight-store Paramus Towne Square mall in Paramus has seen the parent companies of two of its anchor stores, home goods seller Linens 'n Things and electronics center Circuit City (CC.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), file for bankruptcy.

And, earlier this year, the mall had to find new tenants for a Borders (BGP.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) bookstore, which closed when its parent company cut costs.. . . more

Chico's weak profit welcome

Stock up as retailer beats competitor

Fort Myers-based women's clothing store chain Chico's FAS saw its stock jump almost 10 percent Tuesday after it reported that third-quarter net income was $2 million, sharply down from the $23.6 million Chico's reported a year earlier, but better than some retailers.

Talbots Inc., which like Chico's is geared to middle-age and older women, reported a net loss of $167.2 million Tuesday.

Chico's closed at $2.58,
up 23 cents or 9.8 percent.. . . more

Borders ends bid to sell company

Chain reports lower quarterly sales, profits

Borders Group Inc. took itself off the market Tuesday as it reported lower sales and profits.

The Ann Arbor-based bookseller may still sell its Paperchase Products unit to Pershing Square Capital Management LP for $65 million, the company said.

Borders CEO George Jones said the company went through a long and thorough process in exploring a sale, but that it was in the best interest of the company not
to sell.. . . more

Mexican billionaire ups stake in Saks

NEW YORK - Mexican billionaire mogul Carlos Slim Helu upped his stake in Saks Inc. in November, buying nearly 7.6 million shares of the company over a four-day period, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, and becoming the struggling luxury retailer's largest shareholder.

According to Form 4 filings with the SEC, between Tuesday and Friday, Inmobiliaria Carso SA de CV, a Mexican holding company controlled by members of the Slim family, bought 7.59 million shares of Saks for $2.74 to $3.78 apiece.

The purchases bring Helu's stake to 25 million shares of stock and make him the company's largest shareholder. As of Nov. 1, the company had about 137.7 million shares outstanding, according to its most recent quarterly report, filed on Tuesday.. . . more

Consumer confidence rises in November

NEW YORK (AP) -- Consumer confidence rose in November amid receding gas prices, but Americans' views on the economy remain the gloomiest in decades as they grapple with massive layoffs, slumping home prices and dwindling retirement funds.

The New York-based Conference Board said Tuesday its Consumer Confidence Index now stands at 44.9, up from a revised 38.8 in October. Last month's reading was the lowest since the research group started tracking the index in 1967.. . . more

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Shopping center trades to Oekos Group

Stone House Square, a 110,000-square-foot shopping center in Hagerstown, Md. has sold for $28.5 million.

Columbia, Md.-based Oekos Group of Companies bought the new center, which delivered this summer from Charlotte, N.C.-based Faison.

The buyer and seller had forged a relationship when Oekos inquired about buying a different Faison project, which got sold to a different buyer. . . . more

Natick Collection condos buffeted by bad timing

Two years ago General Growth Properties embarked on an experiment. The concept: Build high-priced luxury condos at a suburban mall and load the condo complex up with amenities like a private rooftop park. Such an experiment was bound to be a hit with homebuyers in the affluent Metrowest area. Then again ...

Would-be buyers for the 215 luxury condos at the Natick Collection — formerly the Natick Mall — have not shown up, at least not in droves. As of last Friday, according to real estate brokers and the Multiple Listing Service, about a dozen condos have sold and another 19 are under agreement to sell at Nouvelle at Natick, the condo portion of the newly renovated Natick Collection. And, Chicago-based General Growth’s (NYSE: GGP) financial difficulties are mounting. . . . more

Tweeter Prepares for Swan Song

The down-and-out electronics retailer--Tweeter Opco LLC--is retaining RCS Real Estate Advisors to assist in the property/lease disposition of its remaining 94 locations, pending bankruptcy approval. RCS is a real estate advisory firms for the retail industry. Tweeter is headquartered here. Tweeter filed for Chapter 11 in June of this year, after exiting California, Tennessee, Alabama, New York, and parts of Georgia by closing 49 of its, then, 153 locations. . . . more

Penney, 7-Eleven experiment with cross-promotion

7-Eleven Inc. and J.C. Penney Co. are cross-promoting each other this week in a test in Dallas, Chicago, Los Angeles and Miami to generate incremental sales.

Penney stores are distributing fliers for a free 12-ounce cup of coffee at 7-Eleven stores good the day after Thanksgiving through Sunday.

And at 7-Eleven checkout and coffee counters, easel displays have tear pads with Penney coupons good for $10 off purchases of $50 this Saturday. . . . more

Sandella’s Flatbread Café Signs Franchise Development Agent for Boston

Hottest Flatbread Concept in U.S. to Bring 25 Stores to Boston & Southern NewHampshire

West Redding, CT, October 29, 2008 - Sandella’s Flatbread Café has closed a franchise development agreement with the company Five Mikes LLC, to bring 25 locations to the Boston metro area and parts of southern New Hampshire, including Nashua, Merrimack, Portsmouth and Manchester. Five Mikes LLC is looking for driven franchise partners to assist in the expansion and development of this area. Sandella’s Flatbread Café is a fast casual flatbread concept featuring a health-conscious menu that has made its mark in the restaurant industry with more than 125 open locations. With a brand new store in Hollywood, California, Sandella’s will continue its vast expansion with 400 more restaurants across the U.S. and the United Arab Emirates.

The Company plans to open their first location in the Financial District of Boston by the Spring of 2009. Subsequent locations will range from Boston Metrowest all the way to Worcester and southern New Hampshire. Five Mikes LLC is actively pursuing dedicated franchise partners who want a piece of the most exciting flatbread concept in the restaurant business. . . . more

Steve & Barry's US store closings can begin

NEW YORK, Nov 24 (Reuters) - Bankrupt apparel retailer Steve & Barry's can begin going-out-of business sales immediately, after a U.S. bankruptcy judge approved the company's request in court on Monday.

Judge Martin Glenn, who is hearing the case in U.S. bankruptcy court in Manhattan, approved the motion from the retailer on Monday. It filed for bankruptcy last week.

Company lawyers said in court that it was imperative to begin the closings immediately to maximize value for the company's creditors. . . . more

JCPenney Announces Biggest Black Friday Sale in Company History

PLANO, Texas--(BUSINESS WIRE)--J. C. Penney Company, Inc. (NYSE:JCP - News) today announced that its Black Friday sale will offer the largest, most desirable gift selection at the most compelling Black Friday prices ever offered in the Company’s history. With more than 400 Black Friday specials – an increase of 20 percent over last year – customers will find a broad array of stylish, high-quality gifts – at the Company’s most affordable prices – for every person on their shopping list, making JCPenney the shopping destination for customers this Black Friday.

“Black Friday will be better than ever for customers at JCPenney this year. With our exciting assortment of affordable merchandise – from our innovative ‘red box gifts’ collection, to stylish apparel items from exclusive designers such as Nicole Miller and Kimora Lee Simmons, to practical gifts from exciting brands such as American Living, Decree, Linden Street, Worthington, Stafford, Nike and Levi’s – customers can find gifts they’ll be proud to give, all at the most compelling Black Friday prices we’ve ever offered,” said Ken Hicks, president and chief merchandising officer for JCPenney. “Given the current economic environment, JCPenney understands the issues facing our customers, and we are committed to offering the season’s most affordable gifts at an extraordinary level of style and quality.”. . . more

Monday, November 24, 2008

Black Friday sales intensify in U.S. downturn

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Black Friday, the traditional start to the U.S. holiday shopping season, means more to retailers this year as they struggle to win over consumers with a recession looming.

Black Friday falls on November 28, the day after the Thanksgiving holiday, and many stores have already begun advertising deep discounts to attract shoppers as early as midnight.

Retailers that fail to rack up sales during the three-day weekend face the prospect of clearing out merchandise at profit-crunching prices closer to Christmas. . . . more

Comcast to promote, sell services in Sears stores nationwide

Comcast has announced an agreement with Sears, Roebuck and Co. to promote and sell the operator’s digital cable TV, high-speed Internet and digital voice services in Sears stores nationwide.

In nearly 400 Sears stores, consumers will be able to sign up for Comcast’s services instantly; and in more than 100 of those stores, there will be an interactive HDTV display so that customers can see the features of the operator’s services and products.

“Our goal is to work with Sears to help customers experience instant gratification, knowing they’ll be live with Comcast when they set up their new electronic equipment at home, and the satisfaction of knowing that they have received the best price,” said Bob Faught, senior vice president of retail sales and alternative sales channels for Comcast. . . . more

Target Slated for Virginia Development

New 143,000-square-foot prototype will have expanded grocery format

Target Corp. (Minneapolis) has announced it will open one of its new-concept stores at the Peninsula Town Center in Hampton, Va.

According to The Newport News (Va.) Daily Press, the retailer purchased the land in the new mixed-use center about a month ago for $4.3 million and is on track to finish the 143,000-square-foot store in time for a July 2009 opening. The store will replace the nearby, 118,000-square-foot Hampton Target store that opened in 1996.

Hampton's new Target will be molded in a new company prototype, a hybrid discount store with an expanded grocery format. "It's a mix between a general merchandise Target and a Super Target," the company said. "We find that what our guest is looking for is to have the most things under one roof." . . . more

Wal-Mart Announces New CEO

Wal-Mart(WMT), this week, announced that their CEO H. Lee Scott would be stepping down to retire on February 1, 2009 and he would be succeeded by Mike Duke, the current vice chairman of Wal-Mart International. Duke was also elected to the board of directors of Wal-Mart effective immediately. Eduardo Castro-Wright, current CEO of Wal-Mart USA will gain the responsibility for global procurement and be promoted to vice-chairman.

Lee Scott joined Wal-Mart in 1979. He was named the 3rd CEO of the retail giant in 2000. During his tenure as CEO Wal-Mart has seen its stock price drop 22%, but shares are up 6.6% in 2008, and Wal-Mart is one of the few companies expected to do well during the Christmas season as consumers seek out low prices. Wal-Mart is the only component of the Dow Industrials whose stock is up for the year. Leaving now allows Scott to leave his Wal-Mart post on a high note. . . . more

Uncle Sam Pumps Up Citi

The federal government stepped in Sunday night to bail out Citigroup and restore confidence in the financial system, promising to protect the banking giant against losses on hundreds of billions of dollars worth of troubled assets.

After a week in which Citi's shares plummeted 60% amid mounting concerns about its viability, the U.S. Treasury and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said they will provide protection against the possibility of "unusually large losses" on an asset pool of approximately $306 billion of loans and securities backed by residential and commercial real estate, which will remain on Citigroup's balance sheet.

The Treasury will also inject another $20 billion in capital into Citigroup through the Troubled Asset Relief Program, receiving preferring stock that will yield 8%.

Citigroup's Frankfurt-listed shares shot up 42.4% to 4.21 euros ($5.30) on Monday morning in Germany. The news also boosted leading European stocks, sending the benchmark Dow Jones EuroStoxx index of 50 leading shares up 2.1%, to 2,210.79 points. "This will bring a positive effect into financials," said Riccardo Barbieri, chief strategist at Bank of America. "Equities will extend their recovery on the back of this plan as it is an important step forward." . . . more

Friday, November 21, 2008

A new (but familiar) plan for downtown

Mayor Thomas M. Menino and business executives are moving to create a special tax on Downtown Crossing business owners to raise millions of dollars a year to pay for streetscape improvements and other upgrades to the gritty shopping district.

Merchants and commercial property owners in a 20-block area between City Hall and the Theater District would be asked to approve the tax to supplement city services. The money, up to $4 million annually, would go toward a variety of enhancements, including hiring more people to help clean up the area and give directions to tourists and shoppers.

City officials and executives are seeking to create what's known as a business improvement district. They said that it will help soften the ambiance of Downtown Crossing, where vacant storefronts mix with million-dollar condominiums, decades-old jewelry stores, and swank new restaurants. . . . more

Royal Ahold's Repositioning Efforts Take Hold

The Dutch retailer, known for its Stop & Shop and Giant-Landover store chains in the United States, looks well positioned after revamping operations.

Royal Ahold is sticking to its strategy as it prepares to ride out recession. The Dutch supermarket chain's recent rebranding efforts appear to be paying off already, judging by its better than expected quarterly earnings. The real test, however, will be if consumers begin to trade down from brand-name products, which could hurt the midrange market.

Royal Ahold has made a concerted effort to revamp its operations--dispensing with some units
altogether--and to lower its prices strategically rather than in an aggressive and potentially harmful last-minute discounting raid. . . . more

ICSC-Goldman Sachs Chain Store Sales Up 0.3% In Nov 15 Week

NEW YORK (Dow Jones)--The International Council of Shopping Centers and Goldman Sachs Retail Chain Store Sales Index rose 0.3% in the week to Nov. 15 from its level a week before, on a seasonally-adjusted, comparable store basis.

On a year-on-year basis, retailers saw sales decline by 0.1% in the latest week, compared with a 0.4% sales increase the prior week. This week marks the first time since April 5, 2003, that sales dipped on a year-over-year basis.

"Unfortunately, rising unemployment is holding back spending much more than the help that is coming from lower gasoline expenditures," said Michael P. Niemira, ICSC chief economist. . . . more

General Growth Taps Bankruptcy Counsel, Report Says

General Growth Properties, the shopping mall giant, has hired law firm Sidley Austin as bankruptcy counsel as it negotiates with lenders for more time to restructure its $27 billion debt, The Wall Street Journal reported.

However, the move doesn’t mean that a Chapter 11 filing from the company is imminent, The Journal said, noting that it happens often that troubled companies who hire such advisers never take that step.

General Growth, based in Chicago, has $1.13 billion in debt coming due, including $900 million in secured mortgage debt due November 28 on two of its Las Vegas shopping centers — Fashion Show mall and Shoppes at the Palazzo, and $58 million of corporate debt on December 1. . . . more

Barnes & Noble Cuts 2009 Growth Plans

NEW YORK CITY-With developers canceling or postponing projects due to the downturn, Barnes & Noble has cut its planned store openings for 2009 and is carefully negotiating lease renewals, executives said at the company’s third-quarter conference call. Originally planning to open 20 to 25 new stores next year, the company now is reducing that count to approximately 15 new units, which includes nine relocations, in 2009. However, real opportunity lies in its existing stores.

“We have hundreds of leases up for renewals over the next few years,” said CFO Joseph Lombardi. “We generally have high-quality real estate in terms of our centers and co-tenancies. This real estate flexibility, coupled with the strength of our balance sheet overall, will enable us to manage our business as efficiently as possible.”

As the pool of big boxes continues to decline, the company is using its increased leverage with landlords to negotiate favorable terms. The company has renegotiated 77 leases so far this year, and “at almost each and every one, we’re paying less in the out years,” said COO Mitchell Klipper. “The leases coming up are clearly an opportunity for the company. We’ll see how big it gets.” . . . more

Costco: Economic Climate Fueling More Bargain Shoppers

Costco (NASDAQ: COST) knows how to get their customer to spend money and come back for more. The spending trends are particularly revealing when compared to competitor, BJ's Wholesale (NYSE: BJS).

People visit Costco more. On average, customers visited Costco 2.8 times/month from January to October this year. BJ's Wholesale customers averaged 2.1/month during the same period. This data according to the new Main Street Spending Index (MSSI) compiled by Geezeo, a personal finance website that helps consumers track their spending. . . . more

Bernanke May Find Deflation Is Back as Fed Concern

Nov. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Five years after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke helped stamp out the risk of deflation, the threat is returning as the financial crisis and a worsening economic slump pull inflation lower.

Fed policy makers now predict the U.S. economy will contract until the middle of next year, according to minutes of their Oct. 28-29 meeting released yesterday in Washington. Government figures showed that consumer prices excluding food and fuel costs fell for the first time since 1982 last month.

The minutes, along with a slide in financial stocks to the lowest level in 13 years, increased the odds that the Fed will cut its benchmark interest rate next month. Bernanke may also need to revisit the unorthodox policy options, such as purchases of U.S. government debt, that he outlined as a board member in 2002-2003, Fed watchers said. . . . more

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Steve & Barry's stores to be liquidated

NEW YORK, Nov 20 (Reuters) - Steve & Barry's stores will be liquidated by early 2009 after the new owners concluded they would be unable to obtain financing to keep the casual clothing retailer in business amid disappointing sales.

Steve & Barry's had filed for bankruptcy protection in July, and in the following month it sold its business to investment firms Bay Harbour Management and York Capital Management for $168 million.

But several affiliates of the new owners filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Manhattan on Wednesday, saying in a court filing that Steve and Barry's revenue had suffered because of the declining health of the U.S. economy and the slump in the retail market. . . . more

Consumer Prices in U.S. Decline 1%, Most on Record

Nov. 19 (Bloomberg) -- The cost of living in the U.S. fell by the most on record as fuel costs plummeted and retailers used discounts for cars and clothing to entice consumers hobbled by job losses and sinking home values.

Consumer prices plunged 1 percent last month, more than forecast and the most since records began in 1947, after being unchanged the prior month, the Labor Department said in Washington. Excluding food and energy, so-called core prices unexpectedly fell for the first time since 1982.

Today's report signals deflation, or a prolonged slide in prices, may become another hazard facing Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and President-elect Barack Obama. Deflation could worsen what some economists already call the deepest recession in decades, by making debts harder to pay off and countering the impact of Fed interest-rate cuts. . . . more

Ackman Says Target REIT IPO Would Raise $5.1 Billion

Nov. 19 (Bloomberg) -- Hedge-fund manager William Ackman said selling part of a real-estate investment trust that he wants spun off of Target Corp. would raise $5.1 billion as the rest of the ``tarnished'' retail industry struggles to procure cash.

Ackman's Pershing Square Capital Management LP would buy $250 million of stock in an initial public offering of less than a fifth of the REIT, he said at a presentation in New York today. Target, the second-biggest U.S. discount chain, fell 10 percent in New York trading.

When Ackman proposed creating the REIT in October, the retailer questioned how much value the plan would produce for shareholders and said it had ``serious concerns,'' including that a spinoff would hurt its debt ratings. Target has dropped 18 percent since Ackman said he had a plan for the company's real estate. The Standard & Poor's Index fell 5 percent in the period. . . . more

Target opening new hybrid prototype

The store will feature an expanded grocery section in an attempt to remain competitive with Wal-Mart

HAMPTON, VA - A new Target store that will feature fresh produce, meats and baked goods is beginning to take shape at the new Peninsula Town Center, a mixed-use development that will take the place of the old Coliseum Mall on Mercury Boulevard.

The nation's second-largest discount retailer completed the purchase of the land about a month ago for $4.3 million and is on track to finish the 143,000 square foot store in time for a July 2009 opening, company and development officials said Wednesday.

The store will serve as one of the shopping and dining district's anchors and will replace the nearby Hampton Target that opened on Saville Row in 1996, said Anna Anderson, a Target Corp. spokeswoman. That store is 118,300 square feet, according to city property records. . . . more

Nordstrom Lacks Cash

Retail stocks are getting sliced up and fried like shrimp on a grill. After disappointing earnings from department store J.C. Penney (NYSE: JCP) and upscale retailer Liz Claiborne (NYSE: LIZ), it shouldn't be any surprise that Nordstrom (NYSE: JWN) failed to escape the general malaise. However, Nordstrom is facing what could be a much bigger, company-specific land mine that could really cause problems if the economy goes from bad to only slightly worse.

Last quarter's sales decline of 8.3% to $165 million certainly wasn't pretty. Nor were earnings that came in at half of last year's levels -- $0.33 per share versus $0.69 in 2007.

That's not the red flag though. Rising interest expenses and a troublesome dip in cash on hand are worrisome signs of a potential cash crunch. And given the current market environment, the last thing any company needs is a major cash shortage. . . . more

A Holiday Letter to Retail Staff

This posting is for the retail employee in the store. Please pass it on.

Dear Retail Employee,

With one week and a day before the "official" launch of the holiday season, I'd like to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing specialty retailers.

Unless your last name is Van Winkle and you just woke up from a long sleep, you're keenly aware of the challenges facing retailers this holiday. Most of the holiday projections are indicating the weakest growth since 2002.

The good news is that there should be at least some growth this holiday. The bad news for most Weekly readers is that most growth will likely happen at the discounters and online. I don't think anyone can deny that it is going to be a challenging year for specialty retailers.

But with every challenge comes an opportunity. For every store that struggles there will be another that succeeds. For every store that fails before the doors open another will succeed out sheer determination. For every staff that throws in the towel another will grind it out.

The difference this year is going to be you. I'm convinced that the difference this year for specialty retailers will come down to the people in the store. It's the staff that will ultimately decide the winners and losers this year.

I have great admiration and respect for what you do because I've been there. I know you work long hours at this time of year and often miss family events as a result. You have to deal with crowds and the occasional cranky customer. And after all that time on your feet you're bone-tired at the end of the day. I know you give your all but this year it's going to take even more.

Here are some tips for you and your colleagues to make sure you're one of those winning stores:

1. Stay positive. Attitude could be the biggest difference between the winning and losing stores this year. Every employee needs to do his or her part in keeping a positive outlook. Take a leadership role and turn negative colleagues positive. The press will be looking to cover how bad things are but your customers will be looking for stores that make them feel good. Make a customer feel great and a sale will follow.

2. Succeed one day at a time. If you have a bad day - shake it off. If you have a good day - do it again. You make your holiday by making your month. You make your month by making your week. You make your week by making your day. You make your day by making your hour. . . . more

BJ’s To Boost Store Expansion Plans in 2009

NATICK, MA–Despite tight credit that could affect its partners, BJ's Wholesale Club will increase its growth next year, opening six to eight new stores in existing markets, executives said during the company’s third quarter conference call. Three units will open in the fourth quarter, for a total of four for this year.

But next year will see nearly double that growth, despite financing problems, company officials said. “We may be cautious with our share repurchase to make sure we can fund chain expansion as needed,” said Laura Sen, president. Net sales for the third quarter of 2008 were approximately $2.4 billion, an increase of 13.4% over the third quarter of 2007. Aided by high gas prices during the quarter, the company reported net income of $28.2 million, compared to net income of $22.7 million. Comparable store sales excluding gas rose 6.6%, with a total comp increase of 11.9%. BJ's currently operates 177 clubs in 15 states.

Source: GlobeSt.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Regional Mall REITs Hang On During Third Quarter

Regional mall REITs turned in a solid performance in the third quarter of 2008, amid increasingly grim same-store sales results and reports of crimped consumer spending. Of the seven REITs, three missed analyst’s consensus estimates while the majority beat estimates.

Simon Property Group, Taubman Centers, Inc., CBL & Associates Properties Trust and Glimcher Realty Trust, exceeded estimates by as much as $0.04 per share for the three months ended Sept. 30. Macerich Co., PREIT and General Growth Properties missed analysts’ consensus estimates during the period by $0.03 per share to $0.12 per share.

“It’s a very tough environment, but I think most of the management teams are making some pretty good efforts,” says Rich Moore, an analyst with RBC Capital Markets. “From a guidance standpoint, malls were in the middle of the pack,” when compared to the rest of the REIT universe. . . . more

La-Z-Boy posts wider loss, suspends forecasts

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - La-Z-Boy Inc , the furniture maker and retailer, reported a wider quarterly loss on Tuesday and saw a decline in sales as cash-strapped consumers curb purchases.

Citing an unstable economy, weak consumer confidence and the risk of a protracted recession, the company also said it will not issue yearly forecasts.

The Monroe, Michigan-based company reported its net loss grew to $53.7 million, or $1.04 per share, for the second quarter ended October 25, from $9.9 million, or 19 cents per share, a year earlier. . . . more

Saks Hopes To Lure Shoppers

The luxury retailer will roll out aggressive promotions to attract holiday consumers.

Anticipating a soft holiday shopping season, Saks is taking a hard-line approach to cost-cutting. On Tuesday, the luxury retailer said it cancelled several store renovations and isn't opposed to closing stores--demonstrating that even luxury retailers are suffering as consumers across the financial spectrum scale back spending.

During the company's conference call with analysts, Chairman Stephen Sadove said Saks (nyse: SKS - news - people ) is reviewing each store, to determine whether it makes sense to keep the location
open. . . . more

Fresh & Easy to Slow U.S. Expansion

LONDON -- After announcing its 100th U.S. store opening last week, Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market, a division of London-based Tesco plc, revealed it plans to slow its U.S. expansion in light of the economic downturn, according to

Fresh & Easy's Tim Mason, president and CEO, told the Times that the company's plans to expand its chain into northern California could be put on hold.

"The industry is in a very different place than when we came out and did the feasibility research three years ago," he said in the report. "Then, the U.S consumer confidence index was at the highest level it had ever been. In October, the U.S. consumer confidence index was the lowest it has been since 1967, so it's a big change." . . . more

Big shareholder sees opportunity in Circuit City

A Mexican billionaire who owns a large stake in Circuit City Stores Inc. believes there's great market the company, even though it is under bankruptcy protection, a spokesman said Tuesday.

Ricardo Salinas Pliego, who is on Forbes magazine's list of the world's richest people, is "banking trademark, which is Circuit City," said Luis Nino de Rivera, a spokesman for Grupo Salinas, a conglomerate controls television, retail and cellular businesses in Latin America.

"That's a very important name in the retail industry in the United States and it has great value. ... market opportunity here that certainly has to be looked at in detail," Nino de Rivera said in an interview Associated Press.

Salinas now owns a 28 percent stake in Circuit City, the nation's second-largest consumer electronics retailer, after purchasing million shares.. . . more

Home Depot Reports 8% Comp Sales Decline

With the US housing market still in turmoil, and the economic downturn spreading overseas, expect declining sales for the fourth quarter and beyond, Home Depot executives said at the company’s third-quarter conference call. With sales declining in the US, and comps down in Canada and China, total sales could be down 8% for the year, the chain predicted. “We continue to predict a challenging sales environment,” said Carol Tomé, EVP and CFO. “We’re controlling what we can control.”

Overall comps declined 8.3% for the quarter, with weakness now spreading to formerly healthy US markets, reported Frank Blake, chairman & CEO. Canada and China, too, saw decreases, the latter due in part to the Olympic Games. Mexico remains healthy, he said. . . . more

Grocers are retail's bright spot

Amid all the forecasts for a gloomy holiday selling season, at least one part of the retail sector has something to be cheery about.

Grocery stores have emerged as a bright spot, posting steady or increased sales at a time when almost all other areas - including auto dealers, furniture retailers and department stores - reported significant declines.

In last week's Commerce Department's monthly retail report, food and beverage stores saw a 4.8 percent increase in October sales compared with the same month last year, while sales compared with the month earlier held steady. Meanwhile, sales at auto and parts dealers fell 23.4 percent, furniture sales were down 13.5 percent, and sales at department stores were down 6.9 percent from October 2007. . . . more

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Wal-Mart says gas price drop helping store traffic

NEW YORK, Nov 18 (Reuters) - Customers are coming in to Wal-Mart's (WMT.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) stores more frequently now that gas prices have fallen, the head of its U.S. operation said on Tuesday, and the retailer is cutting prices on food to win sales ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.

Eduardo Castro-Wright, speaking at a Morgan Stanley conference that was broadcast over the Internet, said that as gas prices rose this year, shoppers cut down on trips to its rural stores.
But as gas prices fell in October, Wal-Mart saw an increase in traffic to both its rural and urban stores, he said.

While customers are coming into its stores more frequently, they are not necessarily spending less during their visits, a trend that should favor the retailer, he added.. . . more

SUPERVALU Priced for Failure: Good Entry Point

Food is a necessary consumer product, and this lends some stability to the grocery business. However, competition among retailers is fierce. Wal-Mart (WMT), Costco (COST), and some smaller companies like Trader Joe’s have for many years been increasing their grocery business at the expense of the traditional grocers.

The three biggest traditional U.S. grocers - Kroger (KR), Safeway (SWY), and SUPERVALU (SVU) - cannot beat Wal-Mart or Costco competitively, but they do not need to in order to generate an adequate return on capital. All three of these traditional grocers have sufficient scale to where they can price competitively and still generate good profitability. In the future it is unlikely that any of them will lose enough market share to significantly jeopardize their profitability.. . . more

Steve & Barry's set to throw in the towel

After a meteoric rise followed by a swift decent into bankruptcy, Steve & Barry's caught a lifeline when Bay Harbour Management LLC agreed to purchase the company's assets back in August. Bay Harbour hoped to keep 150 of the company's 276 store open. But the sagging economy appears to have dashed those plans.

The Wall Street Journal reports (subscription required) the company "is set to announce this week it will go out of business, according to two people familiar with the situation." All 5,000 employees will be let go after the liquidation, and the company's brand will probably be sold for next to nothing and live on in a much reduced capacity. For example, I could see Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) acquiring the brand to bolster its value-oriented fashion proposition.. . . more

Home Depot results better than anticipated

Home Depot Inc., the world’s largest home-improvement retailer, posted third-quarter profit that fell less than analysts estimated and repeated its earnings forecast for the year. Sales for 2008 may decline 8 percent, more than the company previously said.

Net income decreased 31 percent to $756 million, or 45 cents a share, from $1.09 billion, or 60 cents, a year earlier, Atlanta-based Home Depot said today. Sales for the three months that ended Nov. 2 retreated 6.2 percent to $17.8 billion.

“The housing and home improvement markets remain challenging,” Chief Executive Officer Frank Blake said in a statement. “Across our entire business, we are making the adjustments necessary to respond to a tough market environment.”. . . more

Feldman Mall in deal to sell 3 malls

Great Neck-based Feldman Mall Properties, fighting the weak economy for more than a year now, announced a potential deal to sell three of its malls to a real-estate investment firm for $9.1 million.

The tentative deal, which must be approved by the boards of both companies, was announced by Feldman in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission after the close of trading Friday.

The three malls - in Illinois, Ohio, and Texas - would be sold to Inland American Real Estate Trust Inc., an Illinois-based, real-estate management and investment firm that has a 29 percent stake in Feldman.

If the deal goes through, Feldman would be left with four malls. The closest one to Long Island is in Colonie, N.Y., near Albany.. . . more

JCPenney Cuts Growth, Continues Sephora Expansion

PLANO, TX-Though J. C. Penney Co. is cutting back on store openings next year, it will continue to look at opportunities resulting from industry consolidation, executives said at its third-quarter conference call. The chain has completed its 2008 expansion plan of 35 new stores, and will open 17 new stores next year, down from an original 20, largely because of project delays on the developers’ end. Future growth in 2009 and 2010 will come in areas where Penney is underrepresented and with developers who are well financed, said Myron E. (Mike) Ullman, III, chairman and CEO. . . . more

Unemployment holds steady in October in NH

As national unemployment numbers continue to rise, New Hampshire’s jobless rate held steady at 4.1 percent in October. That’s well below the national average of 6.5 percent.

National unemployment figures spiked last month, up from 6.1 percent in September. Some economists are predicting the rate will hit 7.5 percent by the end of next year.

Preliminary October data from New Hampshire Employment Security shows an increase in the number of education, health care, retail trade and government jobs. That was offset by declines in the construction, manufacturing and hospitality sectors. . . . more

Job cuts threaten Citi's expansion in Mass.

Bank details plans to eliminate 52,000 positions worldwide

Citigroup's new banking network in Massachusetts remains in limbo after company officials yesterday announced a new target of about 52,000 job reductions by next year, one of the biggest corporate cutbacks announced so far this year. The New York banking giant had previously said it would shrink its worldwide workforce by 18,000 through the sale of units in India and Germany. The cuts revealed yesterday will include about 25,000 layoffs, plus about 7,000 cuts by further sales of operations. Citigroup's goal is to lower employment to around 300,000 by the first half of next year.

In Massachusetts, Citigroup has 31 bank branches and about 1,500 employees. Other businesses here include wealth-management, investment banking, and corporate operations. In all, the company expects to reduce its peak employment of 375,000 people by about 20 percent. While company officials do not yet know where the job reductions would come from, they will touch all Citigroup operations, a spokeswoman said.. . . more

Monday, November 17, 2008

7-Eleven Continues To Convert Most Company Owned Stores To Franchise Operations

7-Eleven, Inc., the world's largest convenience retailer and ranked among U.S. top franchisors, is continuing its plan to convert the vast majority of its company-operated stores into franchised operations in the U.S. by 2012. The conversion of company-operated stores in some markets began in 2006. Approximately 4,100, or 75 percent, of 7-Eleven, Inc.'s more than 5,600 U.S. stores are now franchised.

According to Dennis Lane, 34-year 7-Eleven store franchisee and chairman of the National Coalition of Associations of 7-Eleven Stores, 7-Eleven is a great option for those considering purchasing a franchise.

"The power of a 7-Eleven franchise over other convenience store franchise options is that it is one of the most recognizable and strongest trademarks and brand names in the world," he said. "7-Eleven originated the convenience store concept, and has the infrastructure, tools, technical support and everything necessary to support the franchisee.". . . more

BJ's thrives in tough times

While other retailers struggle, consumers hit the wholesale club to stock up on necessities

NATICK - A few months ago, Ken Naumes began boycotting high prices at grocery stores and switched all of his shopping to BJ's Wholesale Club.

Now, he makes weekly trips to the Dedham store to feed his family of three, spending $200 on milk, meat, vegetables, along with prepared foods. Naumes, 52, is spending almost three times more at BJ's - but he's still saving about $40 a week overall by avoiding grocery stores.

"We can get everything we need for lower prices and it's more convenient," said Naumes, of Westwood, who dropped his membership to Costco last year. "Some of it is bulk, but it's smaller bulk than at Costco.". . . more

U.S. holiday shoppers pick cash over credit

LOS ANGELES – Fewer U.S. shoppers plan to use credit cards to buy gifts this holiday season and the majority of them have yet to complete their gift buying, according to a new survey from the world's largest retail trade association.

Retailers are bracing for their worst holiday season in about three decades as consumers grapple with falling home prices, rising unemployment, harder-to-get credit and higher costs for necessities like food.

After years of using credit cards and home equity loans to support their lifestyles, holiday shoppers this year plan to use a greater proportion of cash to pay for gift purchases.. . . more

Penn Traffic Closing Two Stores

The chain said the locations will reopen as Price Choppers.

The Penn Traffic Co. said it will shutter its Oswego, N.Y. and Lebanon, N.H. P&C Foods stores by early to mid-December, and that rival operator Price Chopper, based in Schenectady, N.Y., has agreed to purchase the stores' assets, and plans to operate them under its own banner.

Penn Traffic president and c.e.o. Greg Young said that the decision to close the stores was financially motivated.

"We have a responsibility to our associates, customers, and shareholders to continually monitor and assess each and every component of our business," noted Young. "This difficult decision ultimately will benefit the health and wellbeing of the company as a whole.". . . more

Who wins (and loses) in a down real estate market?

Short-term investors, highly leveraged owners could face problems

The law offices of Sullivan & Worcester LLP have perched above Post Office Square in Boston since 1982. With its lease due to expire in 2011 amid a down real estate market, the firm is considering moving in the hopes of lassoing a good deal.

“We’re opportunistic,” said Joel Carpenter, the firm’s co-managing partner. “We feel landlords will make aggressive deals.”

With the swirl of stock market turmoil and credit crunches driving a downward real estate market, real estate experts say there are plum opportunities out there. They say tenants like Sullivan & Worcester and long-term property owners have the upper hand. Also, Boston is faring better than other cities.

But heavily leveraged property owners, short-term investors looking for short-term gains and cities — which could lose tax revenue if property values decline — are the potential losers. . . . more

Dillard’s to Close More Stores in 2009

Family-managed retailer remains under fire from large shareholders

Dillard’s Inc. (Little Rock, Ark.) has announced plans to close additional stores in 2009, on top of 20 it shuttered in 2008, following mounting pressure from investors to replace its ceo and change its overall management.

According to The Cincinnati Business Courier, the department store operator also said it will open just two stores in 2009, in Texas and Louisiana, compared with 10 in 2008. That will result in a 40 percent reduction in expected capital expenditures, to $120 million. The chain hasn’t announced which stores it will close related to the newest cuts.

Dillard’s made the announcement after two investment firms that own 5.7 percent of Dillard’s stock – Barington Capital Group LP and Clinton Group Inc. – sent a letter to some of the company’s directors, asking them to immediately begin the process of seeking new leadership, beginning with ceo William Dillard II. “The performance of the company over the past 10 years has been atrocious,” the investment group leaders wrote in their letter, which was filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. “Since Dillard was appointed ceo in May 1998, the company’s market capitalization has plummeted from over $4.36 billion to less than $246 million.”

Dillard’s also has not posted a same-store sales increase since 1999, the group said. In mid-October, Standard & Poor’s replaced the company on the S&P 500 Index of large companies. . . . more

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Simon's Chelsea Division Opens Jersey Shore Premium Outlets

TINTON FALLS, N.J., Nov 13, 2008 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Simon Property Group, Inc. (NYSE: SPG) announced today that its Chelsea outlet division opened Jersey Shore Premium Outlets(R). Located directly off the Garden State Parkway at exit 100A on Route 66 East in Tinton Falls, Jersey Shore Premium Outlets contains 435,000 square feet of gross leasable area and 120 designer and name-brand outlet stores.

The Grand Opening celebration runs through Sunday, November 16 and features live entertainment by popular area musicians, giveaways, store promotions and more. Merchants include Ann Taylor, BCBG Max Azria, Banana Republic, Brooks Brothers, Burberry, Calvin Klein, Cole Haan, Elie Tahari, Geox, Guess, J.Crew, Juicy Couture, Kate Spade, Kenneth Cole, Lucky Brand Jeans, Michael Kors, Nike, Sony, Theory and Tommy Hilfiger.

"Jersey Shore Premium Outlets will serve fashion and value conscious area residents and visitors and we look forward to the center providing an economic benefit to the region," remarked John R. Klein, co--president of Chelsea. "We are very pleased that this project has created over 800 new jobs." . . . more

Nordstrom scales back new store openings

Nov. 14--The economic downturn means some U.S. shopping developments no longer will deliver new Nordstrom stores as planned over the next two years.

Seattle-based Nordstrom said Thursday it will open seven to eight new full-line clothing stores in 2009 and 2010, down from the 12 originally planned. And it will adopt a more cautious approach to renovating stores, taking on only two major remodeling projects a year rather than the more typical five to six.

"We are in unprecedented times, and customers are lacking confidence today," President Blake Nordstrom told analysts. "We saw this clearly in mid-September, when the financial markets became extremely stressed." . . . more

Friday, November 14, 2008

Wal-Mart's Black Friday deals: High tech

Ad showing retailer's planned discounts focuses on consumer electronics like a Samsung 50-inch plasma HDTV, Magnavox Blu-ray player and Xbox 360.

NEW YORK ( -- Wal-Mart is highlighting flat screen TVs, Blu-ray players, Xbox 360 consoles and home computers in its much-anticipated Black Friday deals this year, according to a copy of the retailer's circular obtained by

Black Friday - the day after Thanksgiving - is one of the busiest shopping days for the nation's retailers. Black Friday is of particular interest this year because the country is experiencing a sharp slowdown in consumer spending.

Wal-Mart (WMT, Fortune 500) is not expected to officially unveil its Black Friday deals until Nov. 24. But as more Americans cut their holiday gift budgets this year, many will likely turn to discounters such as Wal-Mart in search of bargains. . . . more

NJ: Retail Deals Slow but Still Happening

VINELAND, NJ-There are retail casualties in the current economic crunch in New Jersey, as there are elsewhere. Names like Circuit City--which is closing some stores in the state--bankrupt New Jersey-based Linens ‘n Things, a shuttered Boscov’s department store in Eatontown, among others, come to mind. But the news isn’t all bad in the state, which has a dense and affluent population that retailers like. Deals are still getting done.

For example, the Burnaby, BC-based Canlan Ice Sports Corp. has leased the 76,500-square-foot Vineland Ice Arena at 2111 Industrial Way here, and will operate it for owner Family Ventures LLC. "The rink in Vineland is part of our long-term plan for strategic expansion into US markets," says a spokesman for Canlan, which will operate it for training, skating clubs, equipment purchases and the like. The deal was arranged for Family Ventures by the Philadelphia-based Binswanger. Details weren’t released, other than that the lease does include an option to buy.

More traditional tenants are signing leases as well. At the 100,000-square-foot Waretown Town Center in the Ocean County community of the same name, Metro Commercial broker Mark Gerlach has executed several signings. . . . more

Sears closing eight more stores

Sears will close eight stores, including a Great Indoors store in Schaumburg, in February, in addition to 12 other stores it had previously announced it would close early next year due to poor sales.

The Schaumburg store closing on Feb. 4 will affect 113 employees and result in one Great Indoors store remaining in the Chicago area, in Lombard.

The other store closings in February include three Great Indoors stores in Las Vegas, Woodbridge, N.J., and Chino Hills, Calif.; one Kmart in Fairmont, Minn.; one Sears Essentials in Clearwater, Fla., and two Sears Grand stores in Menomonee Falls, Wis., and American Fork, Utah.

Sears will close the other dozen stores previously announced on Jan. 31.

Bloomberg News reports that Sears Holdings Corp., based in Hoffman Estates, is entering the holiday season with 42 percent less cash on hand than a year ago.

Chicago Sun-Times

Boscov's sale hearing delayed, family awaits loans

NEW YORK, Nov 13 (Reuters) - A court hearing to approve the sale of bankrupt department store chain Boscov's was delayed for a fourth time on Thursday as the company's founding family worked to finalize loans with lenders for the deal.

The company, which filed for bankruptcy protection in August, said on Nov. 4 that it had signed an agreement to sell its assets to a family group led by Albert Boscov and Edwin Lakin, terminating a previously announced deal with Versa Capital Management Inc.. . . more

Macy's shifts focus to store 'localization'

Chain is bringing back small touches from the old Marshall Field's

As Macy's heads into its third Christmas in Chicago facing a brutal shopping environment, it is starting to bring back a small part of the old Marshall Field's.

While the Field's name is packed away and many of the long-time sales associates are gone, the New York department store operation is beginning to return some high-end merchandise it shelved two years ago when it converted the Chicago stores into Macy's.

The changes are small so far. Macy's is bringing back men's suits from Hart Schaffner Marx to a few stores (Marshall Field's used to sell a lot of them) and intends to re-introduce Joseph Abboud suits in selected locations soon. It is also selling tuxedos again at the State Street flagship.

The steps are part of a pilot program in Chicago and a few other markets where the department store chain is attempting to customize its stores to local tastes after a two-year effort to "Macy-ize" the hundreds of regional department stores it bought in 2005
.. . . more

Circuit City gets $1 billion in credit

Nov. 13--Circuit City Stores Inc. finalized a $1.1 billion line of credit yesterday to fund its bankruptcy reorganization, but the turnaround effort could be hampered by disgruntled product vendors, a bankruptcy expert said yesterday.

The credit line will be used only to pay for products during bankruptcy, not for vendor debt for products purchased before the company declared bankruptcy on Monday, Circuit City said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing yesterday.

Robert M. Lawless, a professor at the University of Illinois College of Law who specializes in bankruptcy law, said money owed to the vendors before Circuit City filed cannot be paid until it emerges from bankruptcy.

Vendors contacted by the Richmond Times-Dispatch yesterday about doing business with Circuit City either would not comment on their plans or did not return calls.

Hewlett-Packard Co. spokeswoman Ann C. Finnie said, "H-P is aware of Circuit City's bankruptcy filing and will be managing its business with Circuit City appropriately given the news."

Hewlett-Packard was listed as the largest creditor in Monday's filing. Circuit City owes it $118.8 million. . . . more

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Q&A: Heating Up Hot Topic

After four tough years, CEO Betsy McLaughlin has a comeback plan for the onetime darling of Wall Street.

October was a brutal month for the retail industry. November and December won't be any better, as nervous consumers pare spending amid rising unemployment numbers and falling stock markets.

It's not all Armageddon. Teen retailer Hot Topic (nasdaq: HOTT - news - people ) saw same-store sales rise 8.3% during the month. Halloween wasn't the only driver for the company, which has positioned itself as the punk rock alternative to competitors like the Gap (nyse: GPS - news - people ). Last October, its same store sales declined 4%. The $290 million (market cap) company goal right now: maintain the same holiday sales as last year--which in the current environment would equal success.. . . more

Edens & Avant buys retail portion of CityVista

Investors in CityVista, a prominent public-private partnership project in D.C.’s Mount Vernon Triangle neighborhood, have sold the 116,083-square-foot retail portion of the mixed-use project to Edens & Avant, a private East Coast retail real estate company.

The CityVista ownership group includes Los Angeles-based Lowe Enterprises and CIM Group, D.C.-based Bundy Development Corp. and D.C.’s Neighborhood Development Co. The development was a partnership with the office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, which will continue to own the ground below the project and lease it to Columbia, S.C.-based Edens & Avant.

CityVista is one of the largest developments under way in the D.C. area. Set on 3.2 acres at the corner of 5th & K streets NW — three blocks from the Verizon Center, Gallery Place and the Walter E. Washington Convention Center — CityVista is a landmark project anchoring the revitalization of Mount Vernon Triangle, an area formerly known for drugs and prostitution.. . . more

Urban Outfitters Q3 profit soars 31%

NEW YORK, Nov 13 (Reuters) - Urban Outfitters Inc (URBN.O: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) reported a bigger-than-expected jump in quarterly profit on Thursday, helped by strong sales at its namesake retail chain and higher margins.

The operator of the Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie and Free People chains said net income rose to $59.3 million, or 35 cents a share, in the third quarter ended on Oct. 31 from $45.4 million, or 27 cents a share, a year earlier.

Excluding a $2.9 million write-off of an auction rate preferred stock investment, the company earned 36 cents per share, a penny above the analysts' average forecast, according to Reuters Estimates.. . . more

Retailers hit crunch with branded cards

Slumping sales are only the beginning of some retailers' woes. Retailers such as Target and Nordstrom are also facing surging credit card delinquencies. Many retailers have a store-branded credit card, a strategy to encourage shoppers to spend more in their stores. The majority, though, have unloaded their credit card portfolios to banks in recent years, meaning that much of the profits and the risk on the store-branded card belong to the partner bank.

Yet, Target and Nordstrom, among a handful of other retailers, defied this trend, which looked like a smart move when times were good. Retail credit cards typically charge interest rates of 20% of more, much higher than other credit cards, says Curtis Arnold, founder of, a site that rates credit cards. The higher rates provide a bigger boost to issuers' profits.

But when the economy sours, those rates can make it harder for consumers to pay their bills, pushing charge-offs -- when banks give up on collecting debt -- on retail cards higher and faster than on general-purpose cards. . . . more

New manager for market?

Faneuil Hall landlord considers bankruptcy; city may buy back lease

Merchants at Faneuil Hall Marketplace are asking the City of Boston to run the outdoor shopping center if their current landlord, General Growth Properties Inc., files for bankruptcy protection. General Growth, the second-largest US mall operator, warned this week it may file for bankruptcy and plans to sell off malls as it struggles to refinance debt. Local retailers and city officials have feuded for years with General Growth over the direction of Faneuil Hall with national chains replacing many local merchants.

"In the event of a bankruptcy, we hope the city would step in and take the lease back," said Carol Troxell of the Faneuil Hall Merchants Association. "We do not want to be a mall. This could provide an opportunity for Faneuil Hall to be the beacon it once was."

Troxell said some merchants are also interested in buying properties from the city if it sells off the marketplace piece by piece. Faneuil Hall Marketplace, one of the city's top tourist attractions, consists of four buildings owned by the city, including Quincy, North, and South markets. The city owns and runs the fourth building, nearby Faneuil Hall, a historical venue for some of the country's most prominent orators. General Growth began leasing the property from the city in 2004 after buying the previous manager. Mayor Thomas M. Menino yesterday said the city is monitoring General Growth's situation and would explore all legal options. If General Growth files for bankruptcy protection, the lease would likely be sold with other assets and the city's control could be limited. Nonetheless, Menino, after a press conference at Faneuil Hall unveiling holiday promotions for shopping in Boston, said the city would use whatever leverage it had to ensure a secure future for the marketplace.

"This is one of the economic engines of the city," Menino said.. . . more

Mixed-use malls are the future, conference hears

Mixing other uses with a mall has been the exception until now. Expect it to become the rule, says a leading advocate of mixed-use development.

“I’m not saying the regional mall is dead,” said Yaromir Steiner, founder and CEO of Columbus, Ohio–based Steiner + Associates. “What I’m saying is that the single-use regional mall is dead.”

Steiner, a pioneer developer of the mixed-use town center concept, told a full hotel ballroom of attendees Tuesday during the keynote speech of ICSC’s 2008 Conference on Mixed Use Development in downtown Chicago that the concept has gone from novelty to normality in about two decades. Current economic conditions have put the brakes on most kinds of development for now, but when conditions turn around, developers, financiers, tenants and even municipalities will once again eagerly pursue mixed-use town centers. . . . more

Stop & Shop Buys Two Stores From C&S

QUINCY, Mass. — Stop & Shop here said it has signed an agreement to purchase two Massachusetts store leases from Grand Union Family Markets and convert the stores to the Stop & Shop banner.

The stores, currently operating as Grand Union in Provincetown and Ro-Jack’s in Seekonk, will close briefly early next month and reopen as Stop & Shop stores “in time to serve customers through the holidays,” Stop & Shop said in a statement, adding that the pharmacy at the Provincetown location would remain open during the renovation.

Grand Union Family Markets is operated by C&S Wholesale Grocers, Keene, N.H., which also supplies area Stop & Shop stores. C&S acquired the Provincetown store as part of its acquisition of Grand Union in 2001 and Ro-Jack’s as part of an asset swap with Supervalu in 2003.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Centercor Invests $12.7M in Andover Retail

Investor Sells Portion of Shawsheen Plaza

Centercorp Retail Properties Inc. acquired 140,074 square feet of general retail property in Andover, MA, from Audesse-Shawsheen LLC for $12.68 million, or approximately $137 per square foot.

The Main Street multi-property sale at Shawsheen Plaza included a one-story, 30,074-square-foot retail building at 199 N. Main St. and a one-story, 110,000-square-foot retail building at 209 N. Main St. The property at 199 N. Main is on 4.98 acres. The property at 209 N. Main is on 14 acres and features loading docks.

The property was 100 percent occupied at the time of the sale. The buyer and seller were self-represented.

Boston CoStar

National Wholesale Liquidators Files for Chapter 11

Add another casualty to this year's list of bankrupt retail chains - this time on Long Island.

National Wholesale Liquidators - a West Hempstead, LI-based discount chain with 55 stores across the Northeast - has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

The filing came despite the fact that the retailer specializes in deeply discounted closeout merchandise. . . . more