Friday, July 31, 2009

J.C. Penney takes on Manhattan

J.C. Penney Co. on Friday celebrated the grand opening of its first-ever location in Manhattan. The two-level, 150,000-sq.-ft. store is in Manhattan Mall, on Sixth Avenue and 33rd Street. The location is noteworthy: It is just a block from Macy’s famed flagship.

“It’s been a long journey,” said Myron (Mike) Ullman, III, chairman and CEO, J.C. Penney, in remarks at the opening. “This is a big step for J.C. Penney.”

Describing the new store as “state-of-the-art,” Ullman said the space was designed for speed and for customers in a hurry.. . . more

Stew's lists $14.5M parcel in Orange

Stew Leonard's has put its 40-acre parcel off Interstate 95 in Orange up for sale, but Stew Leonard Jr., president of the Norwalk-based grocery chain, said he is holding out hope that the project eventually may be constructed if a suitable offer is not received.

"We have a family business. My sisters, Beth and Jill, want to sell it," he said. "But it's not a good market, and I don't think it will sell," he said.. . . more

Macerich and Cadillac Fairview Corporation Capitalize on Decade-Long Partnership to Create New Joint Venture

New Partnership in Macerich's Dominant Queens Center Generates $150 Million

SANTA MONICA, Calif., July 30 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- The Macerich Partnership, L.P., the operating partnership of Macerich(R) (NYSE: MAC), and long-time partner The Cadillac Fairview Corporation Limited today announced a joint venture in Macerich's dominant New York City asset, Queens Center.

Queens Center is a 966,499-square-foot urban retail development anchoring Queens, N.Y., one of the most concentrated and dynamic markets in New York City. The property produces annual mall sales (spaces 10,000 square feet or less) of $876 per square foot as of year-end 2008, making it the top-performing asset in Macerich's portfolio of high-quality retail real estate in the country's most powerful markets. Queens Center leads the industry as one of the most productive regional shopping centers in the United States.. . . more

Rite Aid July same-store sales slide 0.6 percent

Drugstore operator Rite Aid Corp. said Thursday its same-store sales slipped 0.6 percent in July, as the recession appeared to cut into sales of products at the front of the store.

For the four weeks ended July 25, Rite Aid said same-store pharmacy sales rose 1.4 percent, while sales of nonpharmacy items like cosmetics and candy -- or "front-end" sales -- fell 4.7 percent. The company said total sales fell 2.4 percent, to $1.93 billion from $1.98 billion.. . . more

What Size Shoe Is Dropping?

NEW YORK CITY-Last week, Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke presented his agency’s semi-annual Monetary Policy Report to both houses of Congress. In response to Senate questions, Bernanke admitted that the rising tide of problems in the commercial mortgage market could pose "serious and major challenges to the banking system." But, when asked by New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez if the Fed had the tools to "stem" any approaching crisis, Bernanke replied that he did not know.

Experts agree that the sea of maturing commercial real estate mortgages is the next shoe to drop in the nation’s recession. But the size of that shoe remains to be seen, and just how far it falls is anyone’s guess.. . . more

Ann Taylor closing more stores

Ann Taylor Stores is going through another round of store closures, this time shutting 30 units as it also cuts 160 office jobs. Last year in January the chain closed 117 stores and later upped that number to 163 units. The company currently operates 939 locations.

The moves are part of a three-year cost-cutting plan that is intended to save Ann Taylor $125 million. Retail analyst Jennifer Black was quoted by Reuters, saying: “”The company is obviously on a mission to get back in the game with a vengeance. We believe they are well on their way.”. . . more

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Starbucks, McDonald's carve coffee niches

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - When the dust from the great coffee war that wasn't settles, McDonald's and Starbucks will find that each plays on a slightly shifted field, but neither side has capturedthe spoils -- the other's customers.

Legal secretary Krishna
Anderson, 35, started her coffee habit three years ago at Starbucks and continues to buy a caramel macchiato from the coffee chain every day.. . . more

Where Jimmy’s stood, a Legal’s will rise

When the redevelopment of Jimmy’s Harborside began, Doulos family members faced a difficult choice: Fight to save the eatery they started in 1924, or surrender its prime location. They tried to fight, but the price was too steep. The restaurant’s foundation was sinking into Boston Harbor, and its cavernous interior required top-to-bottom renovations. Now, after nearly 85 years, Jimmy’s won’t be back. In its place will be a three-story Legal Sea Foods that its owners say will be the flagship of the chain.

“We’re going to call the complex Legal’s Harborside, and part of that is a tip of the cap to Jimmy’s,’’ said Roger Berkowitz, whose family founded Legal Sea Foods in Cambridge. “They really developed this site and made it what it is.’’

Today the Cresset Group, a real estate firm, will break ground for three new buildings that will accom modate top-shelf office space and four restaurants at the old Jimmy’s site. In addition to Legal’s, Cresset - which has the rights to develop the property - has signed up Zed451, an upscale grill with locations in Chicago and Boca Raton, Fla., to open at the location.. . . more

Reports show economy mending

Economic indicators keep saying what investors have known for months: Things are getting better.

The latest government report to reinforce a more positive view of the economy’s health was the Federal Reserve’s "beige book," released Wednesday, which indicated many parts of the nation are seeing economic stability. Earlier in the day, President Barack Obama told spectators at a town hall meeting in Raleigh, N.C., "We may be seeing the beginning of the end of the recession.". . . more

Tanger Raises Criteria, Slows Growth

GREENSBORO, NC-With the economy still uncertain, Tanger Factory Outlet Centers has raised its threshold for new development, with the result that new projects are on hold, executives said at the company’s second quarter conference call.

Previously, centers that were 50% leased, negotiated or with LOIs were given the go-ahead. The developer has now raised that minimum to 75%, said Steven Tanger, CEO. A previously announced project in Mebane, NC, has not hit that mark. . . . more

PREIT Sees 'Ray of Light'

PHILADELPHIA-With the bulk of its major redevelopment projects complete, Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust is beginning to see signs of a recovery in retail real estate, executives said at the company’s second-quarter conference call.

Requests for rent relief have slowed dramatically, some retailers are growing and comp-store-sales declines have slowed. . . . more

Signs of Recession Recovery in the Luxury Sector of the Home Furnishings Market Are Emerging

Stevens, PA July 29, 2009 -- There are clear signs that the luxury sector of the home furnishings market is recovering from the recession. In the first half of 2009, affluent consumers continue to spend more on luxury home furnishings and decor, according to the latest tracking study of affluent luxury consumer purchases conducted by Unity Marketing.

The survey among 1,017 affluent consumers who recently purchased any luxury (average income $207.8k; age 44.3 years) found that the average amount spent on home luxuries rose 17.6 percent from first quarter 2009 to second quarter. This followed a rise of 16.3 percent from fourth quarter 2008 to first quarter 2009. . . . more

Package stores may ask voters to shield alcohol from sales tax

Just days before the Commonwealth is set to start taxing alcohol sales, the Massachusetts Package Stores Association yesterday said it is planning to file a ballot initiative to make liquor exempt from sales tax.

State lawmakers voted last month to increase the Massachusetts sales tax to 6.25 percent from 5 percent and eliminate the longtime exemption for alcohol sold in liquor stores. The new rate goes into effect Saturday. Officials have estimated that taxing liquor will raise nearly $80 million for the cash-strapped state government.. . . more

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Wal-Mart vs. Target: Who’s Winning the Battle for Cash?

Wal-Mart and Target continue to slug it out like retail behemoths battling to win customers that are essentially in full survival mode. While low price points play a significant role in winning over these cash-strapped consumers, other initiatives have been key in attracting new shoppers and propelling these retail giants towards future growth. Which retailer is winning the battle by attracting more of today's price-conscious consumers? RIS turned to leading industry experts and the blogosphere to weigh in.

"We are in a new world of consumer spending and I don't think living standards will ever be the same," says Howard Davidowitz, Chairman of Davidowitz & Associates. . . . more

KKR planning Dollar General IPO

(Reuters) - Private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co KKR.UL is in the advanced planning stage for an initial public offering of stock in discount U.S. retailer Dollar General Corp, the Wall Street Journal said, citing people familiar with the matter.

KKR is also expected to be one of the lead underwriters on the deal along with Goldman Sachs Group Inc and Citigroup Inc, the sources told the paper.. . . more

Vornado Realty Seeks TALF Funds

NEW YORK CITY-Vornado Realty Trustis joining Developers Diversified Realty to become second commercial real estate firm in line to get assistance from the Fed’s Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility (TALF). The REIT intends to raise between $550 million and $600 million through a CMBS-backed bond sale, according to the Wall Street Journal, which cited people familiar with the deal.

The major owner of offices in the New York City and Washington DC area and high-profile retail properties has about $440 million of debt maturing this year, $1.04 billion in 2010, $2.7 billion in 2011 and $3.2 billion in 2012, according to the Journal article. . . more

Supervalu Cuts CapEx, Sells Stores

MINNEAPOLIS-Supervalu continues to downsize, announcing plans to cut capital expenditures by $50 million as well as the sale of 36 Utah stores, executives said at the company’s first quarter conference call.

Capital spending is projected to be approximately $700 million, which will include 65 to 70 major store remodels, 25 to 30 minor remodels, opening three new traditional supermarkets and 45 to 55 new limited assortment stores, including 30 licensed stores. However, it still plans to close 25 stores annually. . . . more

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Westford plaza operator appeals to block new retail center

WESTFORD -- Westford Valley Marketplace Inc. has filed an appeal challenging the Planning Board's approval for construction of Cornerstone Square, a mixed-use retail center proposed for the junction of Boston and Littleton roads.

The appeal was filed July 14 in Middlesex Superior Court and names Planning Board members Michael Green, Fred Palmer, Andrea Peraner-Sweet, Kevin Borselli and Dennis Galvin as defendants. It also names Westford LC, LLC, a limited-liability company created by developer Robert Walker for the project. . . . more

Sears to open toy shops

Sears is returning to the toy business in time for the holidays.

The Hoffman Estates-based retailer is opening toy shops at 20 Sears stores starting in August, including seven in the Chicago area.

The department store chain -- famous for its Christmas Wish Book of toys for generations- - exited the toy business decades ago as price competition intensified from Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and other big box chains.. . . more

Supervalu selling off Utah-based Albertsons stores

Supervalu announced Tuesday that it reached an agreement with Associated Food Stores for the sale of the majority of its Albertsons stores located in Utah. The sale will include 36 Albertsons stores in Utah and their respective pharmacies and fuel centers, with the exception of three St. George-area stores which will remain Albertsons and continue to be operated by Supervalu.

In connection with this transaction, Supervalu is also seeking a buyer for its two Albertsons stores in Orem, Utah and two Albertsons stores in West Jordan, Utah, and will continue to operate those stores while a buyer is identified. Associated Food Stores intends to rename the 36 purchased stores, and expects to interview and offer employment to most Albertsons associates. . . . more

Consumer confidence falls further in July

NEW YORK — Americans’ confidence in the economy darkened further in July as worries about job security offset any enthusiasm about the resumed stock market rally that has helped bolster retirement accounts.

The New York-based Conference Board said Tuesday that its Consumer Confidence Index, which retreated last month, fell to 46.6, down from 49.3 in June. Economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters were expecting a reading of 49. It would take a reading above 90 to signal that the economy is on solid footing.. . . more

Supervalu 1Q profit falls as sales decline

MINNEAPOLIS -- Grocery chain Supervalu Inc. said Tuesday that its fiscal first-quarter profit dropped 30 percent as sales and profit margins softened as it cut prices and spent more on promotions.

The grocery chain's adjusted results managed to top analysts' estimates, but the company cut its full-year adjusted profit guidance on the likelihood that consumer spending would continue to be squeezed.. . . more

Sears Hopes To Fill Void With Blue Crew

With Circuit City out of business, Sears looks to fill the consumer electronics sales void, rebranding CE salespeople as the Sears Blue Electronics Crew that will help consumers choose their home electronics -- particularly televisions -- and can even help with installation and repairs.

"The Blue Crew is going to present themselves as a selfless group of individuals who work in service of the customer," Eddie Combs, chief marketing officer for Sears Holdings electronics, tells Marketing Daily. "We're developing new programs, so that we're not just a bunch of branded guys standing around in a store, but rather something that gives the customer something." . . . more

Macy's tailors stores to match local tastes

Terry Lundgren is the guy who took away your local department store, turning it into another link in the Macy's chain. Now the company CEO wants to give it back with a program he calls My Macy's.

After a pilot program to match merchandise to local shoppers' preferences in 20 Northern markets, Macy's Inc. is introducing the strategy to the rest of its 69 markets, including those in Texas. This summer, all 808 Macy's stores received the local treatment. . . . more

New Christopher & Banks prototype combines 2 concepts

Christopher & Banks Corp. said Monday it will open a new prototype store later this week in Pennsylvania that will bring the company’s Christopher & Banks and CJ Banks brands together under one roof.

Plymouth-based Christopher & Banks said the new 5,000-square-foot prototype was developed in response to focus groups in which women indicated they wanted to be able to shop together regardless of their individual sizes. Christopher & Banks is a traditional retail store, while CJ Banks focuses on plus-size women.. . . more

Monday, July 27, 2009

Number of retail clinics shrinking

Growth slows as partnerships sought with hospitals

Projections that showed there would be 2,500 retail clinics operating by 2010 are coming up short as the industry has seen more clinic closings than openings in recent months.
MinuteClinic, the first and largest retail clinic chain, now owned by CVS, closed 100 of its clinics for the summer, leaving 452. In two years, the number of clinics housed in Wal-Mart dropped from almost 80 to 30. The retail giant recently acknowledged it would not reach the goal it set in 2007: having 400 retail clinics in operation by 2010. . . more

Leak: Inside the Microsoft Store With Wall-Sized Screens and the Answers Bar

We've been wondering what the Microsoft's retail shops are going to be like. Well, according to a Powerpoint presentation leaked to us, it's going to make the Apple Store look downright boring. UPDATE: Microsoft comments.

The presentation is by Lippicott, a "design and brand strategy" consultant firm with extensive retail experience that it appears Microsoft has hired to help develop the store's concept, principles, and design. It looks pretty legit to us--if it's a fake, it's fairly elaborate, with detailed graphics, research, plans and even rough store layouts. . . . more

Fitch Places $9B U.S. CMBS on Rating Watch Negative

Fitch Ratings placed 238 CMBS bonds from 33 transactions on Rating Watch Negative as part of an ongoing review of the CMBS portfolio using Fitch's updated surveillance criteria, it reported on Friday. However, the ratings agency said it expects the status to be resolved over the next 90 days as it evaluates transactions issued between 2006 and 2008.

Commercial mortgage delinquency up 585%

Delinquencies on commercial mortgage backed securities soared $10 billion in June, hitting a 12-month high of almost $29 billion, according to Realpoint Research.

California led the nation with the highest amount of delinquent loans, closely followed by Texas and Florida.

The jump in late loans across the country is up an “astounding” 585 percent from a year ago when just $4 billion were delinquent, reported the Horsham, Penn.-based research firm. The low point for delinquency was March 2007 when $2 billion was delinquent. . . . more

Friday, July 24, 2009

Board clears path for Demoulas expansion

Seabrook, NH-- The Zoning Board of Adjustment this week denied a request by Developers Diversified Realty for a rehearing on the variances awarded to Demoulas Supermarkets for the renovation and expansion of its shopping center located north of the Route 1/107 intersection.

The decision to deny the rehearing request was unanimous, and no debate was allowed by representatives of either DDR or Demoulas.. . . more

DDR reports $237.2 million 2nd-quarter losses

BEACHWOOD — Developers Diversified Realty Corp. lost $237.2 million during the second quarter, as the shopping center owner grappled with retailer bankruptcies and recorded $240 million in net charges.

The company, a real estate investment trust based in Beachwood, reported that it lost $1.64 per share during the three months that ended June 30. A year before, Developers Diversified had reported $26.1 million in profits, or 22 cents per share.. . . more

Starbucks offers first peek at its not-a-Starbucks café

The Starbucks that isn't a Starbucks — officially called 15th Avenue Coffee and Tea — opens Friday morning to glaring media attention and anticipation from customers and competitors.

"It's a really cool concept," said customer Scott Christensen, of Puyallup. "The culture is pushing back from the corporate establishment and moving toward more organic, small business.". . . more

Update: Target to celebrate 23 store openings this weekend

Retail Discounter Opens 17 General Merchandise Stores With Expanded Food Options

MINNEAPOLIS--Target will open 23 new stores on Sunday, July 26. Of these, four are general merchandise stores, 17 are general merchandise stores with expanded food options and two are full-grocery SuperTarget stores. All 23 stores will celebrate their grand opening on Sunday, July 26, 2009.

Locations receiving a general merchandise store include:
Kona, Hawaii
Warren, Mich.
Bronx Terminal, N.Y.
Cheltenham, Pa.
. . . more

Ritz Camera outbids others at bankruptcy auction

Ritz Camera Chief Executive Officer David Ritz is intent on keeping the company in his focus and not someone else's.

Ritz outbid other parties at a bankruptcy auction Tuesday to buy the assets of Ritz Camera Centers from the bankruptcy estate. Ritz is confident he can brighten the prospects for the dimming shutterbug business.

"We may keep these and all the other 375 stores open," Ritz media director Alex Goldman said. "It all depends on the outcome of talks we are having with the landlords.". . . more

Lack of Sites Slows McDonalds’ US Growth

The woes of commercial real estate are slowing McDonald's Corp.’s continuing expansion in the United States, executives said at the company’s second quarter conference call. The company will open 140 to 150 freestanding units, but had planned for more.

"We had allocated the capital to grow in the U.S.," said Ralph Alvarez, president and COO. "We’d grow more if we could get the sites.”

Instead, the company could focus on renovating older units. About 40% of U.S. units have gone through the company’s reimaging program, but the U.S. lags behind other areas such as Australia.. . . more

Planet Fitness Plans 70 New Gyms

Planet Fitness is expanding its operations with 70 new facilities planned across the country over the next year. Recently, the health club opened in Orlando; Manassas, VA; and Newark, DE with deals in the works for Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Southern California.

"We’re expanding because we believe the demand remains strong for our gyms," explains John Craig of Planet Fitness. "Another factor [is] the softness in the commercial real estate market is resulting in some of the most attractive terms we’ve ever seen." . . . more

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Shaw's will have a new president

Shaw's Supermarkets Inc., the West Bridgewater-based grocery chain, said that its president, Larry Wahlstrom, has decided to retire after 38 years in the drug and food retailing industry.
Mike Witynski, 46, will replace Wahlstrom, 57, as president, Shaw's said in a press release. Witynski is group vice president of Our Own Brands, a unit of Shaw's parent company, SUPERVALU Inc., a Minnesota-based retailer.. . . more

Eddie Bauer's sale to Golden Gate approved

Bellevue-based retailer Eddie Bauer received bankruptcy court approval today to sell its assets to San Francisco private-equity firm Golden Gate Capital for $286 million.

Golden Gate will take Eddie Bauer private and continue to operate it as a multichannel retailer, selling online as well as in stores throughout the U.S. and Canada. People involved with the process say Golden Gate will keep open 300 of Eddie Bauer's 370 stores.. . . more

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Starbucks Returns to Store Expansion

After closing hundreds of units in the last year, Starbucks Corp. is ready to expand again in 2010, executives said at the company's third-quarter conference call. The company now expects to open approximately 55 net new licensed stores in the United States and approximately 310 net new licensed stores internationally this year.

Plans for 2010 are still being made, noted Troy Alstead, executive vice president and chief financial officer, and growth will largely be concentrated internationally. In addition, the company is testing a new store design in Seattle, Paris and Tokyo, and has opened a new concept, 15th Avenue Coffee and Tea, which removes the Starbucks logo and sells beer and wine as well, in Seattle.. . . more

Sherwin-Williams to close some stores

Sherwin-Williams Co., the largest U.S. paint retailer, reduced its 2009 sales forecast Tuesday.

Chief Executive Officer Christopher M. Connor is closing an undisclosed number of Sherwin-Williams' nearly 3,900 stores to reduce costs as the U.S. housing slump continues for a fourth year.. . . more

GE Capital Joint Leads $1 Billion Loan for Rite Aid Corporation

NORWALK, Conn.-GE Capital, Corporate Retail Finance today announced it committed $290 million of new money to a $1 billion asset-based revolving line of credit for Rite Aid Corporation (NYSE:RAD), a leading national drugstore retailer. The loan, which was previously announced by the company, will be used for working capital purposes. GE Capital Markets served as joint lead arranger.

Rite Aid Corporation, based in Harrisburg, PA, is the largest drugstore chain on the East Coast and the third largest drugstore chain in the U.S. The company operates more than 4,900 stores in 31 states and the District of Columbia. . . . more

Fortunoff family looks to relaunch its brand

The families who owned and operated Fortunoff before its sale to private equity firms have purchased all the intellectual property of the now-bankrupt company and are researching ways to relaunch the brand, family members said Tuesday.

The Fortunoff and Mayrock families, who built the iconic regional retailer of gifts, housewares, furniture and jewelry over four generations, bought the property for about $1.8 million. The purchase - approved July 6 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan - included the brand name, related trademarks
, customer lists, domain names and copyrighted material.. . . more

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Seabrook developer challenges DeMoulas' approval

SEABROOK — Following a denial of its Route 1 strip mall proposal by the Planning Board, Developers Diversified Realty (DDR) is now challenging DeMoulas' approval.

DDR, a Beachwood, Ohio-based company, is meeting with the Zoning Board of Adjustment on Wednesday, July 22 to request a rehearing of the May 27 ZBA meeting involving DeMoulas Supermarkets Inc.

The Planning Board denied DDR's proposed retail shopping center in May 2009.. . . more

AT&T Revamping Retail Stores

AT&T is embarking on a major revamp of its retail stores, placing a stronger emphasis on how handsets are tested, and expanding the carrier's netbook offerings.
One of the keystones of the redesign of more than 2,200 locations is that all wireless devices will have power-enabled displays. This means potential customers will be able to test a working iPhone, BlackBerry Bold, or Nokia Surge before making a purchasing decision. . . . more

Kmart opens first Sears-branded store-in-a-store

Sears Holdings has opened its first Sears-branded major appliance shop inside a Kmart store, according to This Week In Consumer Electronics. The store-within-a-store opened earlier July at a Kmart in Birmingham, Ala.. . . more

Research: Restaurant traffic takes biggest dip in 28 years

Restaurant industry traffic fell 2.6% for the quarter ended May 31, the largest decline since 1981, according to Nation’s Restaurant News. Research by The NPD Group, released Monday, found that consumers continue to cut spending and families with children reduce dining-out visits. The traffic decline is compared with an increase of 0.5% during the same quarter a year earlier.

The newest report blamed the restaurant traffic decline mostly on reduced visits among parties with children, which typically represents one-third of all industry traffic. NPD’s Consumer Reports on Eating Share Trends said that more than half of the industry’s decline in the May quarter could be traced to fewer dinner visits from parties with children at restaurants throughout all industry segments. Restaurant visits by adults in households without children remained stable in the May quarter, NPD said.. . . more

Target announces 23 store openings

Target Corp. said Tuesday it is opening 23 new stores, with the entire group celebrating grand openings on July 26.. . . more

Monday, July 20, 2009

Will rebranding efforts revive Bebe?

BANGALORE, July 17 (Reuters) - Recent initiatives by Bebe Stores Inc to jump start its business may not be enough for those who blame the retailer's recent sales slump on its relatively high prices and a limited focus on its core brand.

Shares of the Brisbane, California-based women's apparel retailer have fallen 25 percent in the last two months, indicating some skepticism on Wall Street, even as three analysts continue to recommend a "buy" on the stock.. . . more

P&G expands direct retail

With its recent purchase of high-end retail outlet The Art of Shaving, Procter & Gamble will soon control nearly 70 retail outlets, representing its biggest foray into the retail sector.

For P&G, a manufacturer and marketer of consumer products, the move into retailing represents more than the experiment that previous efforts have been. It could also be a vehicle for sales growth, analysts say.. . . more

Retail Sector Faces Uphill Climb in 2009

Retail investors had a rough go of things in the first half, but since the March lows of all the markets, the Standard & Poor’s Retail Index is showing progress toward its 52-week high of 427.13.

But don’t expect that to last. A slump in consumer spending and soaring unemployment could both pose a significant threat to retailers going into the 2009 holiday season. . . . more

Developer sues over Target plan

SEABROOK, NH — Developers Diversified Realty, the Ohio-based developer of the proposed Target mall on Route 1, has filed a lawsuit against the town and the Planning Board.

The petition filed in Rockingham Superior Court seeks to appeal the May 19, decision by the Planning Board in which DDR was denied site review approval, not for the Target, but for a proposed 449,965-square-foot shopping center on the same parcel. The land is 51 acres at 652 and 700 Lafayette Road.. . . more

With newest store, J.C. Penney takes on Manhattan - and Macy's

J.C. Penney Co. has spent the last decade giving itself an extreme makeover. J.C. Penney Co. has spent the last decade giving itself an extreme makeover.

Now it's moving to the big city.

On July 31, Penney is opening its first store in Manhattan. Its new neighbors will be Madison Square Garden, the Empire State Building and Penn Station. And its West 33rd Street location is just a block from Macy's giant flagship store at Herald Square. . . . more

Winning bidder for Eddie Bauer snapping up distressed retailers

Seemingly undeterred by one of the most difficult retail environments in decades, the San Francisco private-equity firm that won a bankruptcy-court auction for Eddie Bauer's assets Friday has been shopping around for retail businesses.

Golden Gate Capital bought women's clothier J.Jill from Talbots at a bargain-basement price of $75 million last month, and it tried for department-store chain Gottschalks but lost to a group of liquidators in March.. . . more

With thrift store coming, a bit of a rift

Some in Jamaica Plain hoped new arrival would be more upscale

The Foot Locker had long seemed out of place on the 2-mile stretch of Centre Street that snakes through the heart of Jamaica Plain. So when the sneaker chain closed less than a year ago, many residents had high hopes about what should fill the huge void it left behind. Some wanted a Trader Joe’s, a stylish clothing establishment, or a large independent bookstore along the lines of Brookline Booksmith. Instead, a Morgan Memorial Goodwill Industries store will move in.. . . more

Friday, July 17, 2009

Macquarie Sells Regency JV for $1.3B

The US experiment is nearly over for Macquarie CountryWide Trust, which has agreed to sell a majority of its interest in Macquarie CountryWide-Regency II, LLC, a co-investment partnership with Regency Centers Corp., for approximately $1.3 billion. The trust comprises about 80% of MCW’s U.S. holdings.

The buyer is Global Retail Investors LLC (GRI), a joint venture between the California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) and an affiliate of First Washington Realty. Regency, however, can increase its ownership in the fund from its current 25% to 40%. . . . more

SuperMarket News' Top 75 Retailers for 2009

The 75 largest food retailers and wholesalers in the U.S. and Canada combined to produce $893.08 billion in revenues in 2008, up 7.6% over their total in the preceding year. The sales volume includes revenues from both food and nonfood merchandise in North America for the companies' current or recently ended fiscal years. The volume increase reflects both the high levels of food inflation — estimated at about 5%-6% in for the year — combined with traffic growth at the chains on the list. The 10 largest companies on the list accounted for about 68.7% of the total volume on the list, the same proportion they comprised a year ago. Those 10 largest food retailers had combined revenues of $613.2 billion — up 7.5%, or $42.9 billion, over year-ago levels. They accounted for about two-thirds of the increase in volume among the entire Top 75. The top 20 companies on this year's list had revenues of $732.9 billion, up about 7.6% over year-ago volume levels. Those 20 largest operators accounted for 82.1% of the total volume among the Top 75, almost exactly the same as a year ago. . . . more

Prudential Executives See More Pain but Some Improvements

With unemployment still rising, Prudential executives expect more pain to come for the commercial real estate market, but they also see some signs of better health, according to their assessment of the industry during yesterday's mid-year commercial real estate outlook.

“We have gone from near death to life support. ... Now we are coming out of intensive care, yet are by no means euphoric,” declared Marc Halle, managing director of Prudential Real Estate Investors and a portfolio manager of the Dryden Global Real Estate Fund, speaking of the current state of the real estate market. And David Durning, senior managing director at Prudential Mortgage Capital Co., predicted that “people can start to feel better before three years,” despite Rep. Carolyn Maloney's recent warning of three more years before the industry hits bottom--although he acknowledged that the economy and other uncertain factors will strongly influence his projection. . . . more

Spectrum Buys Manassas Retail for $25M

One year after a $120M portfolio purchase of seven retail assets, Spectrum Partners in Bethesda, MD, has acquired a new property: the locally based Westgate Plaza for $25 million. About 65% of the purchase price was a loan from Virginia Commerce, principal Scott Spector tells The remainder was equity provided through a JV with Baltimore-based Alex Brown Realty and Potomac Capital Advisors. Principal Real Estate Investors was the seller.

Last year Spectrum acquired seven retail assets from Jacksonville, FL-based Regency through a different partnership with Angelo, Gordon. The retail industry, to say the least, has undergone a huge shift since then, Spector notes. Still, though, "this property is a good opportunity for us. It is fully leased with a good schedule of lease rollover." Also, he says, the tenant roster is strong, with a Giant grocery store . . . more

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Will CIT Take Retail With It?

It's become increasingly common to hear calls from some in Congress (if not most state capitals) to cut off unspent stimulus funds (most are scheduled to be used in 2010) and to get out of the business of bailing out failing companies.

Among those in the latter group is the CIT Group. The finance company, which received $2.33 billion under the Treasury's Troubled Asset Relief Program last December under the Bush Administration, is still struggling and it appears, based on reports, that the Obama Administration will take a pass on providing it any more help. That, according to many, could be bad news for retailers and ultimately consumers.. . . more

Mass. unemployment rate rises to 8.6 percent

The unemployment rate in Massachusetts rose to 8.6 percent with 2,300 jobs lost in June, the state's Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development reported.

Despite the losses for June, Massachusetts showed a net job gain of 3,300 over the past two months, the office said in a press release. May’s originally reported job gain of 4,900 has now been revised up to 5,600. . . . more

One-Fifth of All CMBS Loans on Servicer Watchlists

One-fifth of all CMBS loans, by balance, are on master servicer watchlists, according to a tally by Bloomberg. And, not surprisingly, the bulk of those are from 2006 and 2007.

In total, 12,853 loans with a balance of $158.6 billion are on watchlists. They were placed there for various reasons, chief among them is that they failed certain objective financial tests, namely those for debt-service coverage levels. . . . more

Starbucks tests new names for stores

When is a Starbucks not a Starbucks? When it's a 15th Avenue Coffee and Tea.

The ubiquitous coffee-shop giant is dropping the household name from its 15th Avenue East store on Capitol Hill, a shop that was slated to close at one point last year but is being remodeled in Starbucks' new rustic, eco-friendly style.. . . more

JCPenney Set to Open Its First-Ever Store in Manhattan on July 31

153,000-Square-Foot Store in Busy Herald Square Area Showcases Retailer’s Innovation and Affordable Style

PLANO, Texas--(BUSINESS WIRE)--J. C. Penney Company, Inc., (NYSE:JCP), the legendary American retailer with a 107-year history and more than 1,100 stores from coast to coast, has never had a store on the island of Manhattan. That will change beginning July 31, when the Company celebrates the grand opening of a brand-new JCPenney department store at 33rd Street and 6th Avenue in the heart of New York City, America’s fashion capital. . . . more

Crabtree & Evelyn To Abandon 35 Leases

Woodstock, CT-based Crabtree & Evelyn, a bath and body products retailer, filed Chapter 11 on July 1. The company said it would execute a reorganization plan to improve its prospects for future growth and profitability, which includes reducing its number of "loss-making stores" through store closures.

In addition it is looking to terminate 35 leases. Crabtree & Evelyn currently operates 126 stand-alone retail stores , typically averaging 2,250 square feet. . . . more

Bebe to replace Sport stores with new concept

BANGALORE (Reuters) - Mall-based women's apparel retailer Bebe Stores Inc (BEBE.O) said it will convert its existing Bebe Sport stores into PH8, a new retail concept, in November.

The Brisbane, California-based company said the PH8 stores will replace the existing 62 Bebe Sport stores in the United States and Canada, and will sell "active street wear and performance products.". . . more

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Wary Of Realizing Losses, Lenders "Pretend and Extend"

Two new phrases have entered the commercial real estate industry lexicon in recent months: "Pretend and extend" and "A rolling loan gathers no loss." Both witticisms describe an ongoing phenomenon in commercial real estate finance: as the level of distress mounts, lenders have been loath to seize properties from troubled borrowers.

Instead, in many cases banks are generously granting extensions or other modifications even in situations where it appears unlikely that borrowers will be able to pay back the loans. . . . more

The Nation's Retail Power Players

Top 100 Retailers

2008 was a bad year for most retailers — and 2009 hasn’t exactly been great, either — yet there is hope that the bottom has been reached and the economy might show signs of real improvement before the year is out.

Not that all retailers are in the same boat. This is the time of the supercenter, the dollar store, price-impact grocers and selected other retailers with an off-price or deep discount business model. Food retailing has been driving the industry, along with merchants who say to consumers, “Come pinch your pennies with us.”

A glance at the earnings column in this year's edition of the STORES Top 100 Retailers chart shows that a fair portion of the nation's largest retail companies posted lower earnings than in the previous fiscal year. Even those with gains were largely limited to single-digit increases, including mighty Wal-Mart (5.3 percent).. . . more

Bridal diva Yolanda fashions her exit

She’s been dubbed the “Sultan of Sequins,’’ the “First Lady of Fashion,’’ and “The Dress Diva.’’ Over the past 41 years, Yolanda Cellucci has built a wedding empire in Waltham, making fortunes on sealing the fates of young brides across the region. But it’s the end of an era for this glamour gal who is shutting the doors of Yolanda’s Bridal Salon next month.

Cellucci, 74, said yesterday she is selling the property to local developers and closing her popular boutique to spend more time with her family. The Newton native launched the company in Belmont in 1968 with only seven dresses and a handful of wigs. She has grown the company to more than $5 million in annual sales with a full beauty salon, spa, and event center, where she has dressed up local TV personalities such as Natalie Jacobson and worked with celebrities such as Joan Rivers and Eva Gabor.. . . more

VF Corp "party of interest" in Eddie Bauer bidding

SAN FRANCISCO, July 14 (Reuters) - Apparel maker VF Corp (VFC.N) is a "party of interest" in the auction for the assets of bankrupt retailer Eddie Bauer Holdings Inc (EBHIQ.PK), according to a court document.

Eddie Bauer, an outdoor apparel chain that filed for Chapter 11 protection last month, has about 370 stores in North America and about 10,000 employees worldwide. . . . more

7-Eleven Sees an Opportunity to Open Doors

Already seemingly ubiquitous, 7-Eleven, the convenience store chain, is taking advantage of the weak commercial real estate market to carry out a major expansion plan.

The company — which now operates or franchises approximately 5,700 stores across the United States — announced its growth strategy in May, saying it would add more than 200 new outlets this year.. . . more

No Whole Foods coming to N.H. yet

With the recent announcement that South Burlington, Vt., would be getting a Whole Foods Market, questions have arisen as to when New Hampshire might get its own location of the organic grocery store.

Robin Rehfield, spokesperson for Whole Foods, confirmed that the chain would be building a store in South Burlington, with an expected completion in late 2011.

As for stores in the Granite State, she could not confirm any definite plans to locate one here.. . . more

L.L. Bean scales back on year's plan

L.L. Bean's expansion continues during the recession, albeit at a slower pace.

The outdoor outfitter is poised to open its newest retail store this month in Dedham, Mass. It will be the Freeport-based company's 13th retail store outside of Maine.

The Dedham store opens July 24 with a three-day grand opening celebration. The 30,000-square-foot store will carry clothing, camping equipment and other outdoor gear and offer walk-on programs through its Outdoor Discovery Schools arm. The store will employ about 150 people.. . . more

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Back-to-school spending to drop 7.7%

NEW YORK ( -- Back-to-school spending is set to slip 7.7% this year, according to a survey released Tuesday.

Thanks to pay cuts and job losses, cash-strapped consumers are planning to spend less on everything from pens and paper to fall clothing.

The average family with students in grades kindergarten through high school is expected to spend $548.72 on school supplies, down from $594.24 in 2008, according to the National Retail Federation. . . . more

Possible CIT bankruptcy revives credit crunch worries

Business lender's collapse might leave some clients with no place to go, exec says.

NEW YORK — In a sign that the financial crisis isn't over, CIT Group Inc., the No. 1 lender to small and midsize U.S. businesses, is scrambling for more help from the federal government.

A collapse of CIT, whose 1 million business clients include entities such as Dunkin' Donuts franchisees and retailer Dillard's Inc., could cut off financing when businesses need it most, analysts said. . . . more

U.S. Retail Sales Rise, Reflecting Autos and Gasoline

July 14 (Bloomberg) -- Sales at U.S. retailers rose in June, helped by incentives at car dealers and higher gasoline prices that boosted service-station receipts.

The 0.6 percent increase was larger than forecast and the biggest gain since January, Commerce Department figures showed today in Washington. Purchases excluding automobiles and gasoline dropped for a fourth consecutive month. . . . more

Levi Strauss completes purchase of outlets

Levi Strauss & Co. said it has completed the $72 million acquisition of 73 Levi’s and Dockers Outlets by MOST stores that it had licensed to Anchor Blue Retail Group, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

The company said the new ownership will include “substantial changes” such as upgraded product assortment, new logos and signs, and upgraded fitting rooms.. . . more