Friday, February 26, 2010

Bernie's Could Make A Successful Comeback

If Bernie's reopened, it would have a decent shot at success, an electronics retail industry official believes."I think that he's done it once probably bodes well for him," said Shawn DuBravac, chief economist at the Consumer Electronics Association. "The fact that he's respected by the customers, that's a good sign. Making sure that loyalty remains intact is the key moving forward.". . . more

Gap reports 45% profit rise, announces Italy debut

Gap reported Friday that strength of its Old Navy division performance propelled the operator of Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic to a 45% profit increase in the fourth quarter. . . . more

Thursday, February 25, 2010

General Growth inks deal with Brookfield Asset Management

General Growth Properties announced Wednesday that it had reached an agreement in principle with Canadian property manager Brookfield Asset Management that will enable General Growth to exit Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

General Growth said Brookfield, which has an extensive portfolio of high-rise office properties in the United States, will invest approximately $2.5 billion in cash in exchange for General Growth shares, giving Brookfield a 30% stake in the Chicago-based company. General Growth says shareholders would receive a total of $15 a share as part of the plan.. . . more

Get greener, state tells big retailers

Wal-Mart, Lowe’s Salem plans lack energy savings, official says

The state’s energy and environmental affairs secretary, Ian Bowles, wants more energy-saving features to be built into the Wal-Mart and Lowe’s stores planned for Salem.

Citing the ambitious environmental goals that have been embraced nationwide by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Lowe’s Home Improvement, Bowles said he was disappointed that plans for the Salem stores - detailed in documents filed with the state - did not include provisions for solar power and other energy-saving measures the companies have used in other states.. . . more

Big Y eyes Lee for new market

The days of Lee being a one-supermarket town may be over. Big Y Foods Inc. of Springfield is poised to buy the former Diesel Dan's truck stop plaza and build a new 48,000-square-foot store on the eight-acre parcel. The area is located off Exit 2 of the Massachusetts Turnpike. . . . more

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

IParty rebounds, sees reasons to celebrate

IParty Corp., a retailer of party supplies and costumes, more than quadrupled its operating income in 2009 on an across-the-board cost cutting campaign that more than offset the company’s year-over-year dip in sales.. . . more

TJX profit doubles

TJX Cos.' fourth-quarter profit climbed 58% as bargain-minded shoppers snatched up deeply discounted goods at its T.J. Maxx and Marshalls stores. The company, which also owns the HomeGoods and A.J. Wright chains, earned $395 million for the quarter that ended Jan. 30, compared with a profit of $250.7 million during the same period last year. The profit topped Wall Street forecasts. Sales climbed more than 10% to $5.94 billion. Same-store sales rose 12%.. . . more

Report: Blockbuster looks at restructuring

Blockbuster has hired a law firm and an investment bank to explore how the chain can cut its $1 billion debt load, The Wall Street Journal reported. The law firm Weil, Gotshal & Manges, and the bank, Rothschild, will also look at other strategies, such as acquisitions or partnerships, the report said.. . . more

West Elm closing D.C. store

Furniture retailer West Elm is closing its D.C. store, striking a blow to one of the city's major efforts to create a critical mass of specialty retail downtown. Store manager Dion Barela confirmed the impending closing Tuesday, saying the store plans to close its doors around March 15, depending on how soon it sells out of its merchandise.. . . more

Wal-Mart to buy digital movie provider Vudu

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said Monday it will buy broadband entertainment provider Vudu, a deal that gives the world's biggest retailer the ability to sell movies directly through TVs and Blu-ray players over the Internet. The deal could give Wal-Mart a way to compete with electronics rival Best Buy Co., which partnered with Sonic Solutions in November to offer Roxio CinemaNow movie-downloading software on all Web-connected devices sold in Best Buy's U.S. stores.Wal-Mart did not disclose the terms of its deal or define its ambitions for the service.. . . more

Target Hits Gains, Will Continue Makeover

Target Corp. reported net earnings for the fourth quarter of $936 million, compared to the previous year’s net earnings figure of $609 million. This figure, plus a 53.3% earnings per share increase to $1.24, from 81 cents a year ago, shows that the company was able to weather one of the worst retail years in memory, says chairman, president and CEO Gregg Steinhafel.. . . more

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Shareholder Sues for $10B General Growth Sale

Simon Property Group’s $10 billion acquisition plan of locally-based General Growth Properties is now headed to court, as GGP is now being sued by a shareholder for not going with the deal.

According to Bloomberg News, investor James Young filed a class action lawsuit against GGP on Friday in Chicago’s Cook County Chancery Court. Young claims that GGP Chairman John Bucksbaum and other board members breached a fiduciary duty in turning down the offer. . . . more

Barnes & Noble profit falls, outlook weak

Barnes & Noble said its profit fell 6% to $80.4 million from $85.2 million a year ago. That beat analyst expectations of $1.34 per share. Revenue rose 33% to $2.17 billion from $1.63 billion last year. Analysts expected revenue of $2.16 billion, according to a Thomson Reuters poll.. . . more

Sears Holdings to close 21 stores, quarterly results top estimates

Sears Holdings Corp. announced late Monday that it plans to shutter 21 underperforming stores this spring around the country. The impending Kmart and Sears closures bring the number of stores that Sears Holdings has said over the past year that it will shutter to 56.. . . more

Video rental stores fading to black

Convenience, choice drawing consumers to other movie options

On a recent weekday, Ken Moore browsed the new release wall at Hollywood Video but he couldn’t avoid the “Store Closing’’ banners that draped the inside and outside of the Quincy store.

“I’m like a dinosaur,’’ said the father of two from Milton. “People tell me ‘You’re still going to the video store?’ and I’m like ‘Yeah.’ ’’

Moore is a part of a growing minority of movie renters who shun the convenience of instantly uploading moves online or grabbing a DVD at supermarket kiosks in favor of roaming the aisles of the big-box video rental stores such as Blockbuster or Hollywood Video. . . . more

Big Lots kicks off opening with donation to city schools

The city's newest store, Big Lots, is coming to town with a gift. The nationwide chain of more than 1,400 stores, which specializes in offering closeout prices on a wide variety of items, plans to donate $2,500 to Thacher Elementary School as part of grand opening ceremonies scheduled for March 5.The popular discounter, which also has stores in Raynham and Seekonk, is already open at its 217 South Main St. site in the Attleboro Crossing strip mall.. . . more

Monday, February 22, 2010

Buyer Beware!

It's now reasonably safe to conclude that the retail cycle found a bottom somewhere around the end of Q3 last year. Comp-store sales for many retailers have been trending in the black since that time, albeit modestly, and financial results, after trimming inventories, are showing very encouraging year-end profit gains. Although bankruptcies and store closings continue, including Blockbuster, Hollywood Video, Ski Market, Bernie's Appliance and others, we have seen retailers take advantage of favorable rents, absorbing a number of larger format retail spaces such as the former Circuit City and Linens 'n Things boxes. To date, there are commitments for 16 of these boxes in our territory coming from retailers such as Ocean State Job Lot, Savers, REI (see Page 3) and a newcomer to the region, Ultimate Electronics.

A bottom that cannot be confirmed yet, however, is the bottom in commercial real estate prices. Billions of potential investment dollars raised by shopping center REITs, institutional investors, and private equity firms are sitting on the sidelines. Although we are beginning to see signs that price declines are subsiding, it is apparent that they haven’t yet hit the floor.. . . more

Wal-Mart de Mexico to open 300 stores in 2010

Wal-Mart de Mexico plans to open 300 stores and restaurants in 2010. Walmex, as the company is known, said it will invest 12.5 billion pesos ($971.6 million) in the country this year.
In addition to the new stores, the investment also includes the upgrading of the company’s distribution and logistics network.. . . more

CompUSA makes a return with a new concept

Now and then a retailer gets a second act, and CompUSA has been handed one. After liquidating in 2007, the electronics chain — under new ownership — has returned with a new store concept called Retail 2.0.

Its first Houston store opened a few weeks ago near Interstate 10 and Bunker Hill. CompUSA also has an El Paso location and a few more Texas stores are set to open soon. What makes the new CompUSA different from the old CompUSA is that by accessing the Internet from computers throughout the store, shoppers can research any product in stock. By touching a computer screen, customers can instantly get details on a particular product. They are even encouraged to comparison shop in the store, as they would online at home. . . . more

Regional supermarkets worth watching

Regional grocers dominate Planet Retail’s first-ever list of the top 10 retailers to watch in North America.

Acquisitive and organic growth will be driven by regional players such as Ahold and H-E-B, according the London-based global retail research firm, while national players focus on existing stores.. . . more

Sears To Shutter 13 Kmarts, Eight Sears Stores

According to reports on Friday, Sears Holding Corp. plans to close 13 Kmarts, four Sears stores and four Sears Essentials stores across the country by May 9. It is estimated that 1,000 employees will be let go when the locations shutter.

A Sears spokesperson is quoted a Daily Herald article as saying, the stores “are closing due to business reasons.” The locations are underperforming and so the leases are not being renewed. . . . more

Friday, February 19, 2010

Lumber Liquidators new store openings boost profits

Hardwood flooring retailer Lumber Liquidators on Thursday said its profit rose in the fourth quarter as it continued opening new stores.

The
company opened 36 new locations throughout the year, bringing its total store count to 186 in 45 states.. . . more

Rite Aid Could Be Next Takeover Target

UBS Securities' analyst Neil Currie thinks that once Walgreens has had the opportunity to complete its purchase of Duane Reade, it might turn its attention to taking over some or all of Rite Aid's 4,800 stores. Of course, CVS and Walmart might have something similar in mind and perhaps more than one of these parties could buy up part of the drugstore chain.

Rite Aid is valuable to others in the pharmacy business, according to Mr. Currie, because it "is the last remaining major drugstore asset in the U.S., with meaningful exposure to dense urban markets.". . . more

General Growth delivers another rebuff to Simon

General Growth Properties Inc. on Thursday again rebuffed Simon Property's recent overtures, suggesting that the bankrupt real estate company may be holding out for a better deal.

"Our objective is to maximize value for the company and its stakeholders, and we are engaging in a process that is intended to accomplish that result," General Growth CEO Adam Mentz wrote in a letter toDavid Simon, chairman and CEO of Simon Property Group Inc. "Understandably, your objectives are not aligned with ours. We hope you will, nonetheless, participate in our process," he wrote.. . . more

U.S. department stores in fight for market share

U.S. department stores are by and large set to report far better earnings in the coming week than they did a year ago in the thick of retail meltdown.

That's the easy part.

The hard part for laggards like J.C. Penney Co Inc, Macy's Inc and Saks Inc will be to show that they can catch rivals like Nordstrom Inc > and Kohl's Corp , who won market share during last year's bloodbath.. . . more

Blackstone may join Simon in bid

Blackstone Group LP, the world's largest private-equity firm, may join Simon Property Group's bid to buy bankrupt General Growth Properties, according to Bloomberg News.

The news service on Thursday reported two people with knowledge of the discussions said New York-based Blackstone is in talks with Indianapolis-based Simon, the biggest U.S. mall owner, regarding the acquisition.. . . more

JC Penney profit beats, sees better sales; shares up

Department store operator J.C. Penney Co Inc reported a higher-than-expected quarterly profit and said same-store sales would improve during 2010, sending its shares up nearly 6 percent.

Penney, which has lagged rivals like Macy's in growth, said it expects same-store sales to be flat in the first quarter and up in the "low-single digits" for the full fiscal year. It also forecast full-year earnings ahead of Wall Street estimates.. . . more

Walmart Losing Customers To Competitors

Price-Cutting Lures Bargain-Hunting Customers Away

After
nearly 50 years of hammering competitors with discounts, Wal-Mart is getting a taste of its own medicine.

The world's largest retailer has seen
sales at its U.S. Walmart stores fall for the first time, as price-cutting competitors lure away bargain-hunters. Department stores and dollar stores are muscling in on the company's discount turf.. . . more

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Sears Auto Centers Introduce Franchise Business

Sears HoldingsCorp. today announced the launch of a new strategic initiative for theSears Automotive business. The Independent Sears Auto Center franchiseprogram offers automobile dealers the opportunity to operate licensed SearsAuto Centers, bringing the Sears brand, buying power, distribution network,systems and corporate support to automotive aftermarket businesses.

With over 3000 automobile dealerships that have lost their franchise,Sears designed the new franchise program to help those dealers leveragetheir facilities by building a set of businesses around parts and services,over-the-counter merchandise, and previously-owned vehicle sales. . . . more

Sperry Top-Sider to Open Retail Locations

Lexington, Mass.-based Sperry Top-Sider announced plans to open retail stores featuring Sperry Top-Sider products for men, women and children.

The first phase of stores will open in the coming weeks throughout Florida, with
locations in Tampa, Orlando and Boca Raton, as well as Dallas and Kansas City. Stores will offer new boating shoes product lines, apparel, accessories and kids products. . . . more

Barnes & Noble won't let Burkle double his stake

Barnes & Noble Inc said on Wednesday that it would not waive its poison pill anti-takeover provision to allow billionaire investor Ronald Burkle to nearly double his stake.

Barnes & Noble, the top brick-and-mortar U.S. bookstore chain, in a letter dismissed Burkle's request, as well as complaints about the company's corporate governance policies.. . . more

Jones Apparel to cut costs by closing stores

New York-based Jones Apparel Group Inc., the woman's clothing and shoemaker, announced a narrowed fourth quarter loss, due to cost cuts and store closings.

Results for the company, whose brands include AK Anne Klein, Nine West and Jones New York, came in well below the 11 cents earnings estimate of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg LP.. . . more

Wal-Mart suffers sales decline in key quarter

Wal-Mart Stores posted a quarterly profit Thursday that beat Wall Street's expectations, but the retailer's store sales dropped during the period that included the all-important year-end holiday sales.

Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, said fourth-quarter sales at its stores open at least a year - a key gauge of retailers' performance known as same-store sales - fell 1.6% compared to a 2.4% increase for the same period a year ago.. . . more

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Whole Foods Market sees profit surge on stronger sales in 1st quarter

Whole Foods Market Inc. took another step forward in its recovery as strong sales sent its first-quarter profit up nearly 79 percent and it raised its outlook for the year.

Whole Foods was battered during the recession as shoppers cut back on spending at the natural and organic grocer. The company retooled — cutting costs, limiting growth and upping its low-priced offerings to improve its profitability and its popularity among consumers.. . . more

Americans Still Scrimping

Americans are still cutting back in a variety of areas to save money, including buying more store brands and bringing their lunch to work, according to a Harris Interactive poll released yesterday.

The online survey of 2,576 adults, conducted in January, showed that 63% have “purchased more generic brands” in the past six months to save money, and another 12% have considered doing so. The trend is strongest among Gen Xers, with 66% of those age 35 to 45 saying they bought more store brands. . . . more

Restaurants, retailers court D.C. market

Grocery stores, burger joints and electronics retailers are all eyeing the D.C. area for potential expansion.

Retailers looking to break into the region included two grocery stores — Greensboro, N.C.-based The Fresh Market and Edison, N.J.-based Wakefern Food Corp., which operates the ShopRite and PriceRite chains.. . . more

With Big Takeover Bid, Simon Aims to Control 30% of U.S. Malls

After months of speculation, the Simon Property Group on Tuesday finally made an unsolicited $10 billion offer for General Growth Properties, its bankrupt rival. But General Growth quickly rebuffed the approach, calling the bid too low.

If successful, Simon, already the biggest mall operator in the country, would control about 30 percent of malls in the United States, according to analysts from Bank of America Merrill Lynch.. . . more

Walgreen Acquires Duane Reade

Walgreen announced on Wednesday that it has purchased New York-based drugstore Duane Reade for $1.08 billion.

The purchase will add 275 Duane Reade stores to Walgreen's portfolio. The deal also includes the assumption of Duane Reade's debt.

The deal is expected to close this fiscal year, which ends Aug. 31. . . . more

Simon Faces Uphill Battle with Shareholders

As GlobeSt.com reported Tuesday, Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group has made a $10 billion offer to acquire locally-based General Growth Properties. This move will merge the top two retail-focused companies in the country, creating a company will more than 520 assets.

However, this is not a done deal, according to Ryan Thomas, a partner at Bass Berry & Sims PLC and expert in mergers and acquisitions of public and private companies. Since GGP is still trying to pull a number of assets out of bankruptcy, Simon will need court approval; as well as the approval of secured creditors and shareholders. . . . more

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Darden Restaurants Inc. upped its full-year earnings guidance on Tuesday as its sales and traffic trends showed improvements during the company’s February-ended third quarter.

“The signs of sales and traffic improvement we began to see late in the second quarter and discussed during our December conference call with investors continued into January and February,” Clarence Otis, chairman and chief executive of Darden, said in a statement.. . . more

Burger King to sell Starbucks' Seattle's Best brew

Burger King Holdings Inc will sell Starbucks Corp's Seattle's Best Coffee at its U.S. restaurants by autumn, as it revamps its morning menu and responds to the successful launch of McCafe coffee by McDonald's Corp.

Burger King, the second largest U.S. hamburger chain after McDonald's, said it would serve Seattle's Best in about 7,250 U.S. outlets by September. The new coffee drinks, with optional flavorings and whipped topping, will sell for $1 to $2.79.. . . more

Some Retailers Decide Less Is Better

Through the years, some research studies have found that when consumers have too many choices, that can leave them feeling frustrated or indecisive. However, a recently published meta-analysis of 50 published and unpublished experiments that investigated "choice overload" actually came to a different conclusion: consumers generally respond positively to having many choices.

Of course, that's all well and good when people have plenty of money to spend, businesses are seeing a steady stream of paying customers, and profitablity is not being constantly undermined by aggressive competition, higher financing costs, and other pressures. . . . more

Nordstrom, Target Lead In Customer Satisfaction

In the derby to please shoppers, stores like Nordstrom and Target continue to trounce their competition.

Overall, consumer satisfaction remains relatively strong, despite the weak economy, and the ACSI says it "remains much higher than it was prior to the recession and also slightly higher than this time one year ago." . . . more

Specialty Apparel Retailer Express Files For $200 Mln IPO

Express, Inc., a specialty apparel retailer, files its go public with initial public offering of up to $200 million of its common stock.

Express said it intends to apply to list the common stock under the symbol "EXPR". As of January 30, 2010, Express operated 573 stores.

According to the filing, Express opened its first store in 1980, in Chicago, Illinois as a division of Limited Brands, Inc., and launched its men's apparel line in 1987, which it rebranded under the name Structure in 1989.. . . more

Lowe’s to try again on Hub store

After stalling out last year, the home improvement giant Lowe’s is again trying to build its first store in Boston, on property along the Massachusetts Turnpike in Brighton, aiming to preempt a competing plan for a larger mixed-use development by shoemaker New Balance.

A Lowe’s executive said the company will file a new development plan with the city in the next few weeks for a 145,000-square-foot store between the turnpike and Guest Street, just below the major crossroad of Market Street. The home improvement company hopes to begin construction later this year.. . . more

Simon Bids $10B for General Growth

Simon Property Group is making an offer to acquire General Growth Properties for about $10 billion. The deal would include $9 billion in cash and would keep the existing secured debt in place.

The troubled number-two mall REIT in the country filed for bankruptcy in 2008 and has been attempting to right itself since. The Simon offer comes to $9.00 per General Growth share, a total of "$6.00 per share in cash and all of GGP's ownership interests in the [Master Planned Community] assets," according to Simon's offer letter. . . . more

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Supervalu sheds all of its Shaw's stores in Conn.

Supervalu will sell all 18 of its Shaw's grocery stores in Connecticut, the company said.

"While these decisions are always difficult, given the impact on associates and customers, they ultimately allow us to operate more efficiently and effectively within a highly competitive retail environment," said Pete Van Helden, executive vice president of retail operations.. . . more

Friday, February 12, 2010

Rooms To Go plans to open 16 new stores

With two new distribution centers in place and hints that the economic climate is improving, Rooms To Go plans to open 16 new stores over the next 18 months, its biggest growth push in at least the last three years. Jeff Seaman, CEO of the 121-store Top 100 company, said the growth will boost its store count by about a dozen units. . . . more

Construction advancing for Liberty Wharf

Construction is advancing for Liberty Wharf, a $43 million mixed-use project located on the South Boston Waterfront. The project consists of three buildings totaling approximately 74,000 square feet of space.

Tenants already signed on to occupy the restaurant component of the project include Legal Sea Foods and a steakhouse operated by Tavistock Group. . . . more

DieHard accessories to be sold outside Sears stores

Move aims to broaden customer base

The DieHard brand of portable power equipment is moving beyond the walls of Sears Auto Centers, marking the first time a Sears brand will be sold outside the retail chain.

Hoffman Estates-based Sears Holdings Corp. announced Thursday that it has inked a trademark license agreement with Mount Prospect-based Schumacher Electric Corp. that will allow DieHard brand power accessories, such as battery chargers, jump starters and power inverters, to be sold in stores in the United States, Puerto Rico and Mexico. . . . more

Coach to debut men’s-only store

Coach plans to open its first men's-only store in May. The 550-sq.-ft. store will be located in New York City's West Village, taking over space that was occupied by a Ruehl boutique that was closed as Abercrombie & Fitch shuttered the concept last year, according to a Dow Jones report.

Coach, wants to explore "a broader men's opportunity for the brand globally," said Mike Tucci, Coach's president of North America retail. Coach is also opening a few men's shops in department stores in Japan.. . . more

Fox Run Mall's location is a blessing and curse

It's shortly before 8 p.m. on a Wednesday and the large corridors in the Fox Run Mall are largely devoid of shoppers with the occasional family wandering through.

A couple teenagers are playing video games near the food court and Airbrush Guys store owner Ray McIntyre has plenty of time to chat with another store owner as the night's foot-traffic is low.. . . more

Retail Sales Rise By 0.5 Percent In January

Retail Sales Rose 0.5% In January

Retail sales posted a better-than-expected increase in January, a welcome development that could mean stronger economic growth in coming months.

The Commerce Department said Friday that retail sales increased by 0.5 percent last month, the best showing since November and better than the 0.3 percent increase economists had expected.. . . more

Meet The New Ann Taylor

"Meet the new Ann." An apt name for Ann Taylor's campaign to revitalize the 55-year-old brand. The line offers modern and trendy clothes with a classic twist aimed at today's career woman. Leading the charge is Christine Beauchamp, president of Ann Taylor Stores since 2008, and she's just getting started.

Beauchampis responsible for repositioning the brand to rival their top competitors including J. Crew and Banana Republic. As part of her mission, Beauchamp makes a point of taking day trips to visit Ann Taylor's 320 stores in order to connect with her retail team and get feedback from their customers. In person and in real time. . . . more
Family Dollar Stores Inc said on Wednesday that it expects to roll out expanded hours to substantially all of its 6,600 stores by the end of the month, a move the company says will help boost earnings.

When Family Dollar reported quarterly results in January, it said it had tested expanded hours in 15 percent of its stores. Based on the response from customers, Family Dollar, which sells most of its merchandise for $10 and below, said it would roll out longer hours across the chain.. . . more

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Consumer Spending Rose Modestly in January for Third Straight Month

Americans backed off from holiday spending in January, but retail sales rose for a third month in a row compared with a year earlier, largely because of gas price hikes, according to figures released Wednesday by a key data service.

Including goods from food to clothing to gasoline - but excluding cars - U.S. retail sales rose 3.6 percent from January 2009, according to MasterCard Advisor's SpendingPulse, which offer an estimate of spending in all forms including cash.. . . more

Chick-fil-A Outlines Expansion Plans for 2010

In addition to surpassing the $3 billion annual sales mark for the first time in early December 2009, Chick-fil-A opened 83 new restaurants in 2009, including 69 standalone restaurants, one mall location and 13 licensed outlets (college campuses, hospitals, airports, businesses and industrial sites).

In 2010, Chick-fil-A will launch several initiatives to continue its growth, including plans to open 78 new locations--66 of which will be standalone locations, two mall/in-line restaurants and 10 licensed outlets. . . . more

Dollar General chain plans expansion

Dollar General, which has several stores in Davidson County, plans to open 600 stores and hire 5,000 people this year as it continues to grow thanks to the recession that pounded a sense of thriftiness back into American consumers, according to a company press release.

The Goodlettsville, Tenn.-based company's plans would expand its total number of stores by 7 percent, to 9,400, and total number of employees by 6.4 percent, to 83,000. . . . more

Home Depot looks to add businesses to its parking lots

Home Depot, the big-box hardware store, is taking a hard look at those acres of blacktop surrounding their stores – and seeing dollar signs.

Looking for ways to squeeze revenue out of the company's portfolio of properties, the real estate division found that a quarter of the company's stores – about 500 – could support an acre-sized business in the parking lot.. . . more

Struggling Zale hires firm to explore strategic options

Cash-strapped and struggling Zale Corp. said Tuesday it is seeking outside advice to help it sort out alternatives.

Restructuring options Zale could pursue range from selling off its Canadian stores or its Piercing Pagoda chain to merging with its rival, Signet Jewelers Ltd., owner of Kay Jewelers and Jared the Galleria of Jewelry. The two companies had formal talks a couple of years ago. Last month, both companies declined to comment on whether they've renewed discussions. . . . more

Loan Originations on Retail Properties Rise in Fourth Quarter

The Mortgage Bankers Association’s Quarterly Survey of Commercial/Multifamily Mortgage Bankers Originations showed that the volume of retail loans rose in the fourth quarter and nearly matched the quarterly average the industry posted in 2001.

The MBA’s origination index on retail hit 95 in the quarter—up from a reading of 71 in the third quarter and more than double the readings of 43 and 47 posted in the first quarter of 2009 and the fourth quarter of 2008. . . . more

Store Closings Could Keep Piling Up Throughout First Half of 2010

With Movie Gallery announcing the first major bankruptcy filing of the year, retail real estate professionals are starting to get a handle on what 2010 will look like in terms of store closings.

So far the pace of announced closings has been noticeably slower than in 2009, when a glut of retailers announced mass closures, bankruptcies or liquidations soon after the holiday shopping season concluded. By this time last year, seven major retailers had filed for bankruptcy and about a dozen others announced mass closings. That’s not how things have played out so far this year. . . . more

Monday, February 8, 2010

Private Equity Investors To Boost Real Estate Allocations in 2010

What did private equity investors, including huge institutional players such as pension funds, learn most from the recent collapse in commercial real estate values? They want more of the asset class.

A new study of 90 global private equity real estate investors by London-based researcher Preqin confirms that instead of fleeing to the hills, institutional investors intend to commit more capital to private equity real estate funds in 2010 than they did in 2009. And surprisingly, none of the participants in the survey conducted in the fourth quarter of 2009 has abandoned commercial real estate.. . . more

Positive Signs for Home Furnishings

The home-furnishings industry is “back on the road to recovery,” according to the conclusions from the just-released “2010 High Point Market Business Outlook and CEO Update.”

The report, published by the High Point Market Authority, was developed based on economic data and interviews with U.S. retailers. “While none of the leading retailers we interviewed sugar-coated their experiences over the past year by any means, we found their responses to be thoughtful and upbeat,” said Brian Casey, president and chief executive officer of High Point Market Authority.

Among the highlights from the report: . . . more

Bierbrier nears completion for Mass. shopping center addition

Bierbrier Development is nearing completion for a 9,000-square-foot, freestanding addition to the Arlington Village Shops retail center in Arlington. Upon completion, the addition will bring the total amount of space within the center to 25,000 square feet.

Petco and Hair Cuttery have already signed leases for a total of 6,375 square feet within the new addition. The Meat House also signed a lease for 3,300 square feet within the original shopping center.. . . more

Walgreen CFO sees sales 'uplift,' lower costs with new format

Walgreen Co., the biggest U.S. drugstore chain, said its new store format is bringing an "uplift" in sales and helping drive down costs.

Walgreen will have the new layout, which features lower shelves and fewer items, in place at 3,000 locations by the end of this year, up from 30 last year, according to Chief Financial Officer Wade D. Miquelon. Six hundred of the Deerfield-based company's more than 7,100 stores have the new format now.. . . more

Barnes & Noble's Nook e-reader to hit stores

Bookseller Barnes & Noble Inc said on Monday that its Nook electronic reader would be available in most of its physical stores as of Wednesday, ahead of Valentine's Day, ending weeks of delays.

The Nook e-reader, which Barnes & Noble launched in October and competes with devices such as Amazon.com Inc's Kindle, had previously only been available for order on the retailer's website or at in-store kiosks as the No. 1 U.S. bookstore chain struggled to meet what it said in late 2009 was strong demand for the e-reader.. . . more

Profits amplified during Q4 for CVS Caremark

CVS Caremark announced on Monday that fourth-quarter PBM revenues experienced double-digit gains as its retail business posted a 4.9% boost in same-store sales.

On the retail side of the business, revenues during the fourth quarter increased 4.5% to $14.5 billion. Same-store sales increased 4.9% as pharmacy same-store sales rose 7.3%. Front-end same-store sales increased 0.3% during the quarter.

For the fiscal year 2009, total revenues in the retail segment rose 13% to $55.4 billion.. . . more

Friday, February 5, 2010

Hanover Mall auctioned for $36.7M

Lenders for the Hanover Mall bought the retail center for $36.7 million at a foreclosure auction yesterday.

“The people that were holding the mortgage were the high bidder,” auctioneer Paul Saperstein said. “Nobody had any information regarding what the rental income and so forth was, so nobody would bid.”

Mall owner Walton Street Capital, a Chicago private equity firm, defaulted on its $87.5 million loan for the mall. Walton Street bought the property for $99.4 million in 2007, and Fitch Ratings reported in December that mall revenues had declined 22 percent since the loan was issued.. . . more

Ski Market going out of business

Bankrupt Ski Market is going out of business after 39 years.

The company announced today that a liquidation sale at all seven of its stores will start tomorrow - the silver lining for ski and snowboard enthusiasts.

The Wellesley-based, 170-employee chain filed for bankruptcy on Dec. 29, listing more than $10 million in debt.. . . more

U.S. restaurant count declines

The number of U.S. restaurants fell this past fall as the industry continued to suffer from serious declines in traffic and sales. The rate of closures, however, was less than what was reported last spring.

According to The NPD Group's ReCount data released Wednesday, the total number of U.S. restaurants declined 0.3 percent, or by 1,652 restaurants, to 578,353 locations in the fall of 2009, compared with the fall of 2008. ReCount tracks commercial restaurant locations twice a year, in the spring and fall.. . . more

A&F’s Jan. sales rise, defying forecasts

Abercrombie & Fitch posted a surprising 8 percent gain in January sales in stores open at least one year, helped by a gift-card promotion and clearance sale. It was the first month-over-month increase since April 2008. . . . more

Unemployment Rate Dips to 9.7% in January

Employers shed jobs at a slower pace in January, but the nation's unemployment rate edged lower, according to a government report released Friday.

Nonfarm payrolls dropped by 20,000 in January. Consensus estimates called for payrolls to increase by 15,000, according to Briefing.com, though individual forecasts varied widely ahead of the Bureau of Labor Statistics' release. . . . more

Shoppers loosened purse strings in January

Wealthier shoppers went on a buying binge in January, and even middle-income Americans spent a little more, retailers said Thursday.

Some chains reported their brightest monthly results in years. Compared with a sharp drop last year in January sales, the strong performances offered a nice finish to the industry's fiscal year, which typically ends in January.. . . more

Sales at Urban Outfitters Chains Vary

Urban Outfitters’ fourth-quarter revenues hit a record $589 million, and sales at stores open at least a year rose a respectable 4%. But performances at its two largest chains, its namesake operation and Antrhopologie, varied widely.

At its 137 Anthropologie units, same-store sales rose 10%, while Urban Outfitters, with 155 locations, recorded flat results. The smaller Free People division, with 34 units, posted a 11% increase. . . . more

Dollar General Plans 600 New Stores

Dollar General Corp. says it plans to open 600 new stores over the coming year in response to greater demand for discount stores during the recession. The 8,800-store chain also says it will create 5,000 new jobs this year, adding to the 4,000 positions it created last year and the 78,000 employees it now has.

"Despite today’s tough economic
climate, Dollar General continues to hire great talent," Bob Ravener, Dollar General’s senior vice president and chief people officer, stated in a release. "We have exciting plans for 2010, which include expanding our work force in many suburban, rural and urban communities.". . . more