Monday, April 30, 2012

Ground-breaking celebrated at Somerville's Assembly Row

Touting the beginning of a new era in Somerville, local and state officials broke ground Monday at Assembly Row, the complex of stores and apartments that planners say will transform a long-disused industrial space into a bustling neighborhood.

Most generous in his praise of the project was Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone, who thanked the myriad of government offices and private developer for 20 years of planning. When completed in 2014, the complex will hold 2,050 units of housing, a 200-room hotel, shops, a movie theater, and a dedicated Orange Line T station.. . . more

New restaurant opening on Greenway in June

The Glynn Hospitality Group will open a new restaurant on the Greenway this June.

Dubbed the Grain Exchange, the 250-seat restaurant will make its home at the end of Milk Street in a nearly 200-year-old Charles Bulfinch-designed building and offer two floors, two bars, an exposed kitchen and panoramic al fresco style windows.. . . more

Barnes & Noble stock soars on Microsoft Nook stake

Microsoft Corp has agreed to invest $300 million in Barnes & Noble Inc's Nook digital-book business and college texts, in a deal that helps establish the value of the popular Nook business while giving Microsoft a foothold in the e-book market.

The deal gives Microsoft Corp a 17.6 percent stake in a new subsidiary for the business, a new company which will still have an existing relationship with Barnes & Noble's stores, the largest bookstore chain in the United States, the companies said.. . . more

Anderson Family to Take Books-A-Million Private

Books-A-Million said the Anderson family, which includes Chairman Clyde Anderson, on Saturday made a nonbinding proposal to take the company private.

The Anderson family, which already has a 53 percent stake in the book retailer, is offering $3.05 per share in cash for Books-A-Million — a premium of 20 percent to Friday's closing, the company said. . . . more

A General-Store Race Is On

Dollar General's Move to Add Fresh Food Underscores Midsize Store Rivalries

Dollar General Inc., whose discount stores have stolen bargain-seeking shoppers from Wal-Mart Stores Inc., is trying to grab a share of the grocery business.

The idea behind entering the notoriously low margin business? That stocking fresh food and more refrigerated products in midsize stores will drive shoppers to visit more frequently—and increase how much they spend on standard dollar-store fare, from corn chips to children's clothing.. . . more

Wal-Mart’s U.S. Expansion Plans Complicated by Bribery Scandal

In Los Angeles, a Wal-Mart building permit is getting a once-over. In New York, the City Council is investigating a possible land deal with the retailer’s developer in Brooklyn. A state senator in California is pushing for a formal audit of a proposed Wal-Mart in San Diego. And in Boston and its suburbs, residents are pressuring politicians to disclose whether they have received contributions from the company.

All of it in the past week. . . . more

Starbucks profit jumps 18%, accelerates growth plans

Starbucks Corp.’s net income surged a better-than-expected 18% in its fiscal second quarter, as its store traffic increased in most parts of the world. The coffee giant also raised its forecast for the year on the results and said it was accelerating its growth.

Starbucks, which has more than 17,000 stores globally, said it will accelerate new store growth this year to about 1,000 net new stores around the world. The total includes approximately 500 net new stores in the Americas, with licensed stores comprising approximately one-half of the new additions.. . . more

Best Buy’s Newbury St. location for rent

Best Buy’s loss could be the opening a large retailer needs to lease space on the most fashionable street in Boston.

Earlier this month, Best Buy, the electronics giant, closed its doors at the corner of Newbury Street and Massachusetts Avenue, part of the retailer’s plan to shutter 50 stores nationwide. The retail space had several tenants over the past decade.. . . more

Friday, April 27, 2012

TD Bank eyes Boston goal

TD Bank plans to expand in Massachusetts as fast as it can find space for branches — and hopes to keep its name on TD Garden “forever if they don’t kick us out,” CEO Ed Clark says. . . more

J.C. Penney adds another Apple exec to its team

On Thursday, J.C. Penney and CEO Ron Johnson announced a new lineup of executive players to join the department store retailer’s team, one of them from the ranks of Apple.

Benjamin Fay, senior director of retail real estate, design and development for Apple, has been named executive VP real estate, store design and development for J.C. Penney. . . more

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Short Hub stop for tall women’s shop

If you spot a lot of tall women around the Hyatt Regency Boston this weekend, don’t assume it’s a gathering of hoops stars.

Long Tall Sally, a London-based clothing chain catering to women 5 feet 8 inches and taller, is hosting a two-day “pop-up” shop at the hotel. The 2,000-square-foot temporary store will be stocked with 3,000 items — including tops, dresses, jeans, suits, pajamas, swimwear, yoga outfits and shoes. . . more

Corner Bakery Cafe to Strengthen Footprint in Northeast

Corner Bakery Cafe, the fast-growing bakery cafe franchise favored for its signature line of grilled panini, freshly baked sweets and made-to-order breakfast scramblers, will open 22 new locations in Rhode Island and Connecticut throughout the next eight years.

The agreement, signed by Top Line Restaurants, calls for 16 cafes in Connecticut and six in Rhode Island, with the first location scheduled to open by summer 2013. The new restaurants will help boost the local economy in those states by adding more than 800 jobs into the market over the next eight years. . . more

Remodeled Targets to Feature More Fresh Food

Fresh food selections will be expanded at 90 Target stores across the United States, scheduled to be completed in late June. . . more

Ninety-Nine installs car-charging stations

National Grid has installed 11 of its 30 new electric vehicle charging stations at select Ninety Nine Restaurants locations in Massachusetts, the Boston Herald reports, citing an announcement by the restaurant chain. . . more

All-out effort to get people to waterfront this summer

The Big Dig was completed five years ago, resulting in the Central Artery’s demolition and creation of the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway, 15 acres of public land. Once-polluted Boston Harbor has become not only a chic dining destination but clean enough to swim in. . . more

Sears expands 'Scrubology' shops

Sears Holdings has expanded the availability of its in-store professional apparel shop to 91 Sears and Kmart stores nationwide. The concept, called, "Scrubology," is already open in 39 stores and offers work apparel and uniforms for professionals in industrial, service and healthcare fields. . . more

Gymboree Corp. narrows loss in Q4; plans 105 stores in 2012

The Gymboree Corp. reported Wednesday that it narrowed its loss in the quarter ended Jan. 28 to $24.9 million, compared with a loss of $47.3 million a year earlier. . . more

Eastern MA KeyPoint Report Preview

The KeyPoint Report on retail real estate in Eastern Massachusetts/Greater Boston will be available soon at Below are highlights from the findings in this year’s report:

Market Overview & Vacancy:
With new retail construction limited, total inventory in Eastern Massachusetts stands at 189.4 million s/f, a modest increase of 0.1% from the prior study period. At the same time, the vacancy rate in the region showed a modest net decline from 9.0% to 8.9%, equating to a reduction in unoccupied space of only 200,000 s/f. It would have been a much better year for net absorption had it not been for the demise of Borders and Syms/Filene’s Basement, which helped to bump up the vacancy rate from a low of 8.7% earlier in the year. . . more

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Most shoppers say price has to be right before they shop

NPD’s The Economy Tracker, a monthly monitor of consumer sentiment about the economy and spending, found that in the most recent survey, 85% of U.S. consumers said that price will be an extremely important/important factor in deciding where to shop in the near future, 10% more than those who feel sales and special deals are extremely important/important.

By income, 87% of those in the household income bracket of $25,000 to $50,000 selected price as extremely important/important, 85% in the $50,000 to $100,000 income bracket, and 82% in the $100,000 plus bracket.. . . more

Coach Q3 profit rises on 17% sales increase

Coach Inc. posted a higher-than-expected quarterly profit on Tuesday, benefiting from strong sales and improved margins. Revenue rose 16.6% to $1.11 billion, just above analysts’ expectations. Same-store sales in the United States rose 6.7%.

Coach also said it is eliminating coupons at its factory outlet stores. . . . more

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Westfield Sells 7 U.S. Malls to Starwood for $1 Billion

Westfield Group (WDC), the world’s biggest shopping center operator by assets, will sell eight malls in the U.S. for $1.15 billion, using the funds to repay debt and invest in businesses offering higher returns.

The Sydney-based company will sell seven of the properties, which are among its “non-core” assets, to Barry Sternlicht’s Starwood Capital Group LLC for $1 billion, and another property to an undisclosed buyer for $147 million, it said in a statement to the Australian stock exchange today. The shares rose to the highest in more than a year. . . more

Starbucks to open on Disney properties

Starbucks Coffee Co. has announced a partnership to open a store inside each of the six Disney properties in California and Florida.

The first will open this summer, at Disneyland California Adventure in Anaheim, Calif. Starbucks will be located in the Fiddler, Fifer and Practical Café on Buena Vista Street, which is designed to transport patrons to 1920s Los Angeles. . . more

State’s mum over Amazon, sales tax

State tax officials won’t say if moves by online retailer Amazon to start research and manufacturing operations in Massachusetts will mean the company must start collecting an estimated $25 million to $45 million a year in state sales taxes on Web-based purchases. But Massachusetts bricks-and-mortar retailers who want a level playing field are demanding an answer. . . more

Liberty Tree Mall to get Lucky 7 Arcade

The owner of the Lucky 7 casino-style arcade in Gloucester plans to open a second location inside the Liberty Tree Mall on Independence Way.

If not for the need to construct handicapped-accessible bathrooms, said Rosalie Parisi, the owner and manager of Lucky 7 LLC, the arcade would have been open by the end of April. . . more

Future of Taunton’s Silver City Galleria in question

It’s no secret the nearly 22-year-old mall in East Taunton has seen better days. Despite anchors like Sears, JCPenney, Macy’s and Best Buy, it currently has 25 vacancies.

For the moment at least, there’s no official word the Silver City Galleria mall is closing. But that has not stopped people from talking.. . . more

Wal-Mart CEO Mike Duke at risk in bribery allegations

No top executive of a major U.S. company has ever been charged in connection with U.S.'s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act bribery law. Wal-Mart's CEO Michael Duke could be the first.

Lawyers and FCPA experts say that Duke and other top Wal-Mart officials may have violated the law when they allegedly signed off on a flawed investigation of widespread bribery at the company's Mexican division. . . . more

Radio Shack reports Q1 loss, declining sales

Radio Shack Corp. had warned investors that business was "extremely challenging" in the first quarter and it was. The Fort Worth-based retailer swung to a first-quarter loss and reported a decline in sales.

Same-store sales fell 4.2 percent from a year ago primarily due to a decline in Sprint postpaid wireless sales and a decline in the sale of pre-paid wireless phones, laptops, and home entertainment accessories. . . . more

Dueling Owings Mills projects trap county officials

Three large development proposals in Owings Mills have created a political tightrope for Baltimore County officials.

David S. Brown Ltd. is progressing on the first phase of a $550 million residential, office and retail project, called Metro Centre, adjacent to the Owings Mills Metro Station; Kimco Realty and General Growth Properties are planning a $65 million redevelopment of the Owings Mills Mall; and Greenberg Gibbons Commercial has proposed a $140 million retail redevelopment, called Foundry Row, of the former Solo Cup plant site along Reisterstown Road.. . . more

Café of India closes, Mantra next

One World Cuisine, the Cambridge-based restaurant company, has shuttered one of the oldest Indian eateries in the area and is planning to close Mantra in Boston’s Downtown Crossing, according to a published report.

Café of India, a landmark in Harvard Square for more than two decades has closed, and Mantra, which opened in 2001 as an Indian-French fusion restaurant, is planning to close, according to IndUS Business Journal.. . . more

Monday, April 23, 2012

Activist's newest target: Barnes & Noble

Share of Barnes & Noble spiked more than 10% Monday, after activist investor Jana Partners disclosed it had taken a 12% stake in the book retailer in recent weeks.

Jana Partners, known for pushing for breakups or sales, could add pressure on Barnes & Noble  to sell or spin off its Nook e-reader business, an option that Barnes & Noble's CEO said the company was considering in January.. . . more

Wal-Mart probe could cost some executives their jobs

Allegations that Wal-Mart Stores Inc stymied an internal investigation into extensive bribery at its Mexican subsidiary are likely to lead to years of regulatory scrutiny and could eventually cost some executives their jobs.

The New York Times reported on Saturday that in September 2005, a senior Wal-Mart lawyer received an email from Sergio Cicero Zapata, a former executive at the company's largest foreign unit, Wal-Mart de Mexico, describing how the subsidiary had paid bribes to obtain permits to build stores in the country
. . . more

Will Supermarkets Replace Best Buy?

Market analyst firm Canalys said this week that it expects more big-box retailers like Best Buy to disappear like CompUSA and Circuit City. But who will replace them? Supermarkets.
Canalys predicted that the largest electronic retailers will continue fading away, as more and more consumers shop on price, and not the ability to touch and feel electronic items. Those retailers may eventually just evolve into physical showrooms for vendor products, possibly even moving out of retailing altogether, Canalys wrote
. . . more

Burlington Coat Factory to open NYC flagship

Burlington Coat Factory will open a flagship in Manhattan this fall. It will be the off-price retailer’s sixth location in New York City. The 92,000-sq.-ft., three-level store will be in a building managed by Vornado Real Estate, on the south end of Union Square.

The Union Square flagship is part of a broader plan by Burlington to open more than 20 new stores in 2012.

Source: Chain Store Age

Jean Coutu reduces stake in Rite Aid

Canada’s Jean Coutu Group has sold 56 million of its approximately 234.4 million shares in Rite Aid, the company said Friday.

The Canadian retailing group said the $83.6 million sale, which amounts to a 23.9%% reduction in the number of Rite Aid shares the company owns, would reduce its stake in Camp Hill, Pa.-based Rite Aid to 19.85%. The Jean Coutu group still owns about 178.4 million shares in the 4,667-store chain.. . . more

Home sales surge in March

The Bay State’s housing market continued its resurgence in March as low mortgage rates and first-time home buyers fueled the eighth consecutive month of single-family home sale increases.

Agents sold 2,791 single-family homes last month, an 18.4 percent increase from the 2,357 homes sold during the same month last year, according to the MLS Property Information Network, New England’s largest MLS listing service.. . . more

Friday, April 20, 2012

Developers file plans for Tremont Crossing development

The developers of a large swath of land across from Boston Police headquarters in Roxbury are moving forward with plans to build a complex that will include large retail stores, offices, homes and a new museum featuring African American artists.

The Tremont Crossing development would fill about 8 acres of city-owned parking lots with six new buildings. Its developers, a joint-venture that includes nonprofit Elma Lewis Partners and Feldco Development Corp., filed detailed plans with city regulators Friday.
. . . more

Retailer boosts its own minimum wage

When most companies say they pay the minimum wage, they're referring to the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour. But not Hobby Lobby Stores, an arts and crafts chain that has 502 stores. Full-time hourly employees - nearly 60 percent of the privately held retailer's workforce - will receive at least $13 an hour effective immediately, the company said this week.

Competitive pay keeps employees motivated and reduces turnover, said Howard Davidowitz, chairman of Davidowitz & Associates, a retail consulting and investment banking firm in New York. Hobby Lobby is one of the nation's most successful retailers, he said. . . . more

Consumer confidence rises to match four-year high

A report released Thursday by Bloomberg showed that household confidence improved last week to match the highest level in four years. 

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index was minus 31.4 in the period ended April 15, compared with minus 32.8 over the previous seven days. The reading equaled that from two weeks earlier as the best since March 2008.. . . more

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Friendly’s snags a new CEO from Panera

Restaurant chain Friendly's Ice Cream LLC, which emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection earlier this year, has hired John Maguire as its new CEO, the company said on Thursday.

Maguire joins Friendly’s from Panera Bread (Nasdaq: PNRA), where he held the job of executive vice president and COO.. . . more

Retailer Five Below plans to raise $150 million in its proposed initial public offering

Five Below Inc. plans to raise $150 million in an initial public offering of its common stock.

The retailer, which targets preteens and teenagers, did not disclose in a Wednesday filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission how many shares will be in the offering. It also did not specify how many shares it will offer and how many shares selling stockholders will offer.. . . more

Jo-Ann Fabric joins two New Hampshire shopping centers

Jo-Ann Fabric and Crafts recently opened at Belknap Mall, the only enclosed shopping mall north of Concord. The new store joins Peebles Department Store, Shaw’s, Maurices, Lakes Region Jewelers, CVS and Dunkin Donuts at the 218,500-sq.-ft. mall.

Currently under construction, Jo-Ann Fabric and Crafts is preparing for a late spring opening at Rochester Crossing, a 304,500-sq.-ft. shopping center in New Hampshire’s Seacoast Region and featuring Kohl’s, Lowe’s, Famous Footwear, GameStop and Tropical Smoothie.. . . more

U.S. retail sales rise more than expected in March

The Commerce Department said Monday that retail sales rose a better-than-expected 0.8% in March as job gains and warmer weather encouraged more consumers to shop. The increase was below February's 1% increase but above January's pace.

Excluding both automotive and gasoline sales, retail sales rose 0.7%. Excluding the increase in auto sales, retail sales still rose by 0.8% in March.. . . more

Sears completes sale of 11 properties to General Growth

Sears Holdings Corp. said Tuesday that it completed the $270 million sale of 11 full-line Sears store locations to General Growth Properties.

Sears announced in December it would close between 100 and 120 stores to raise cash after a disappointing holiday season.. . . more

Charley's restaurant may leave Newbury Street location

Charley's, the Back Bay Restaurant Group eatery, may soon have to give up its longstanding digs on posh Newbury Street, at the corner of Gloucester Street.

The owners of 284 Newbury St., the five-level building that houses Charley's, are putting it up for sale, according to a real estate broker handling the deal. Charley's occupies the basement retail level and the first floor. Upper floors are offices, which have been in the past home to Back Bay Restaurant Group, now part of Tavistock Restaurants since a 2011 merger.. . . more