Friday, June 29, 2012

Nontraditional Formats Stem Supercenter Gains

Fast-growing nontraditional grocery-retailing formats such as limited-assortment banners and natural and organic specialists, combined with a handful of high-performing traditional supermarket banners, have helped slow the industry’s market-share losses to the warehouse and supercenter formats in recent years, according to an analysis of government sales data by DSR Marketing Systems, Northbrook, Ill. The total grocery market grew 14% during the 2007-2011 time frame, to $645 billion, the analysis found. And while supermarkets lost share as a group during that time, the rate of decline slowed as the “growth formats” and some traditional chains like Publix Super Markets and Kroger made up for the declines of others.. . . more

US consumer spending and wages flat in May

U.S. consumers spent no more in May than in April after seeing almost no gain in their pay. The lack of growth in consumer spending and wages suggests that a faltering job market is slowing the economy.

The Commerce Department said Friday that consumer spending was unchanged in May. Income growth edged up 0.2 percent, but that was mostly because of gains from investments. Wages, the largest component of income, were essentially flat.. . . more

Back-to-School Forecast: Cloudy And Careful

SchoolbusYes, we know the yellow buses only unloaded the last of the neighborhood school kids 15 minutes ago. But that means it’s time for the economic experts to think about back-to-school shopping, and what it might signal for the industry’s mighty fourth quarter.

June’s Consumer Confidence Index declined a bit, its fourth straight month of moderate declines, which likely will influence chains as they prepare inventory and plan promotions, Doug Hart, partner in the retail and consumer product practice at BDO USA, tells Marketing Daily. . . . more

Finish Line Q1 profit falls on costs

The Finish Line Inc. said Friday its fiscal first-quarter profit fell 25% as higher costs offset sales growth.

Sales rose 6.5% to $319 million, from $299.5 million. Same-store sales were up 8%.. . . more

Smashburger to take on Five Guys, b.good in Boston area

Smashburger BBQ bacon cheeseburgerSmashburger, a Denver, Colo.-based chain, is coming to Boston. A Connecticut entrepreneur has bought the franchising rights for all of Middlesex County, which stretches from Cambridge to Chelmsford, and says he plans to open 12 restaurants over the next seven years.

Smashburgers sell for $4 to $7, and the average ticket at the restaurant is $8 to $10. The restaurants are 2,000 to 3,000 square feet, and the franchisee said he is currently looking for a location in Middlesex County, probably in its more suburban areas, to start.. . . more

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Waterside springs ahead

BOOMING: Developer John Drew, left,... Developer looks to bag grocer

Southie waterfront developer John Drew is looking to lure Stop & Shop to the next phase at Waterside Place, the luxury apartment building he broke ground on yesterday.

Drew scaled down the project at the corner of Congress and D streets last year to just a 20-story building, but he indicated interest in the future grocery site has picked up.. . . more

Nordstrom to open 1st full dept store in Manhattan

After circling Manhattan for at least a decade, Nordstrom Inc. is expected to announce plans Thursday to open its first full-scale department store in New York.

The store is set to open in 2018 at 157 W. 57th Street, between Broadway and Seventh Avenue south of Central Park, according to Faith Hope Consolo, chairman of retail leasing and marketing at Prudential Douglas Elliman, who was briefed on the deal by a source at Nordstrom.. . . more

Best Buy Founder Weighs Buyout

Best Buy Co. founder Richard Shultze is working with a Wall Street bank to explore taking the electronics retailer private, according to people familiar with his thinking, the latest twist in a tumultuous year at the company.

Mr. Schulze, the retailer's largest shareholder with a slightly more than 20% stake, abruptly resigned his post as chairman and a director of the Richfield, Minn., company earlier this month, saying he was pondering options for his shares.. . . more

Dollar General Has Discovered Easy Ways To Increase Sales

Brick and mortar stores are turning to food and other strategies to fight online competition. And to a certain extent it is working.

Dollar General is already seeing gains from such changes, according to Deutsche Bank's Charles Grom.. . . more

Pottery Barn among new tenants at Chestnut Hill Shopping Center

WS Development said that Pottery Barn, along with Swedish children’s apparel retailer Polarn O. Pyret and locally based Treat Cupcake Bar, will open at its Chestnut Hill Shopping Center.

The new stores are scheduled to open in spring 2013 in a new building at the site of the former Macy’s.. . . more

South Station bar, Clarke's, to become a CVS

Clarke’s, the 20-year-old bar at South Station, will be replaced with a two-level CVS, sources told the Boston Business Journal.

A deal is in the works between the Rhode Island-based retailer and the property manager, Equity Office Properties, to open a 25,000-square-foot store in the Clarke’s location with an escalator and an elevator to vacant office space on the second floor. The new store would be a few blocks away from another CVS at Chancey and Summer streets.. . . more

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Bobby Flay’s burger joint on front burner

CHIPS ARE UP: Food Network star Bobby...Celebrity chef and Food Network star Bobby Flay has a burger joint in the works in Burlington.

The 3,300-square-foot Bobby’s Burger Palace will be one of several newcomers to Burlington’s strengthening restaurant scene that already includes long-timer Cafe Escadrille, L’Andana, the Capital Grille, Summer Winter, Legal Sea Foods and the Cheesecake Factory. The upscale Seasons 52 is taking over a portion of an empty Border’s space at Wayside, and Tavern on the Square is opening at New England Executive Park.. . . more

Room & Board inks deal for first New England store on Newbury Street

Room & Board, a Minneapolis-based retailer offering modern American-made furniture and accessories, has signed a lease at 407 Newbury St. in Boston. . . more

Mass. board OKs tax breaks for TJX, other firms

A state board has approved more than $20 million in state and local tax breaks for discount retailer TJX Cos.

The parent company of the T.J. Maxx and Marshalls chains has promised to use the tax breaks to create 300 new jobs and expand operations in its Framingham headquarters. TJX also plans to expand in Marlborough, where the firm has agreed to purchase buildings previously occupied by Fidelity Investments.. . . more

Urban Looks to Amazon in Reaching 50% Online Sales

Urban Outfitters Inc., the operator of more than 400 stores under brands including Anthropologie, is looking to an example as it works to generate half its sales online, said Chief Financial Officer Frank Conforti.

Chief Executive Officer Richard Hayne is “driving the strategy to push us to rethink how we look at that channel and how we think about that opportunity,” Conforti said today at an Oppenheimer & Co. consumer conference in Boston.. . . more

Consumer confidence in June dips to five-month low

The Conference Board, in its monthly sentiment index released on Wednesday, said that confidence among U.S. consumers dropped in June for a fourth consecutive month, reaching a five-month low.

The research firm’s sentiment index fell to 62, from a revised 64.4 in May. The slide in confidence raises the risk that the recently revealed slowdown in hiring will cause households to curb spending.. . . more

Developing report: Best Buy founder considering buying out company

A just-released report from the Wall Street Journal said that Best Buy founder Richard Schulze, who resigned his chairman of the board seat earlier this month, may be looking into buying out the company.

Schulze is said to be working with bankers from Credit Suisse. At the time of his resignation as chairman, he owned approximately 20% of the company.

Source: Chain Store Age

Newton considers ban on new bank branches

Economic development officials in Newton, Mass. would reportedly like to restrict new bank branches in the main street districts of the city's several villages.

Banks looking to move into first-floor real estate in Newton's tony village centers would have to hold plans for a one-year waiting period, under the proposed regulation, according to a Newton Tab report.. . . more

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Walgreens in $6.7 billion deal to acquire 45% stake in Alliance Boots

Walgreen Co. said Tuesday it will pay $6.7 billion for a 45% stake in European health and beauty retailer Alliance Boots, which is based in Nottingham, England, with an option to buy the rest of the company in about three years. It is the first international venture and biggest deal ever for the U.S. chain. . . more

Most Failed Malls Will Languish

Many cities saddled with a dying mall envision rebuilding the eyesore as a multilevel, mixed-use complex with vibrant stores, offices and condominiums.

Most of those cities are dreaming, and the harsh reality is that their derelict retail properties likely will linger and deteriorate for many more years, according to Don Wood, president and chief executive of shopping center owner Federal Realty Investment Trust.. . . more

A look at Starbucks' tea shop competitors

Starbucks is taking a bigger step into the tea world with a new Tazo Tea concept to debut later this year.

Starbucks has been selling Tazo Tea in its coffeehouses and grocery stores for years, but the new concept will be the tea brand’s first outlet.

Though the coffeehouse giant is not talking about a nationwide chain of tea shops just yet, the move draws attention to the niche tea category, where a small but growing number of concepts are offering a modern take on what is becoming an increasingly popular beverage.. . . more

Edible Arrangements announces private-equity investment; poised for growth

Edible Arrangements announced a strategic partnership with private equity firm Catterton Partners, which includes a capital investment toward expanding the Edible Arrangements brand globally.

Edible Arrangements currently has more than 1,100 franchise locations open or under development worldwide. In 2011, the company opened 86 new stores, including 10 locations internationally, and said it expects to open more than 100 new domestic and international units in 2012.  . . . more

Ritz Camera files for bankruptcy; to close 128 stores

Ritz Camera & Image has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. As part of its restructuring, the company, which has 265 stores in 34 states, plans to close 128 locations and cut its staff of 2,000 in half.

This is the second time Ritz has sought protection under the bankruptcy laws, having emerged from Chapter 11 two years ago.. . . more

Izod in-store shops coming to J.C. Penney

PVH Corp. will open 600 Izod shops inside J.C. Penney department stores in September, Women’s Wear Daily reported.

The new in-store-shops will range from 600 sq. ft. to 1,000 sq. ft. in size.

Source: Chain Store Age

Monday, June 25, 2012

Harvard Square theater to close

The old Harvard Square theater , now known as AMC Loews Harvard Square 5, will permanently close its doors on Sunday, July 8, according to the Harvard Crimson.

 The theater opened in 1926 with 1,700 seats and a huge 40-foot screen. The lobby faced Mass Avenue, looking straight into the heart of Harvard Square.. . . more

The Future Of Best Buy

Whatever anyone says, Best Buy still has a monopoly--on the fondling of all classes of electronics in one location. With Best Buy's 1,103 domestic stores and its 326 Best Buy Mobile stores, they have a sizable advantage.

With the drama of an ousted CEO, a parting founder, a lousy TV market, a poor video game market, and increased competitive pressure from Amazon and other retailers, Best Buy shares are selling at a handsome discount: about 5 times free-cash-flow. That represents a return of 20%--if, and only if, Best Buy can maintain or improve its position.. . . more

Rite Aid CEO: 'We're making good progress'

After a five-year downward spiral with losses in the hundreds of millions of dollars, stagnant revenue and plunging share prices, the Rite Aid Corp. on Thursday told shareholders the company was going in the right direction.

“We’re making very good progress,” President and CEO John Standley said. “We’ve had solid sales growth and ‘script growth, which are key to getting where we want to go. We’re very encouraged.”. . . more

J.C. Penney CEO discusses departure of Francis; marketing wasn’t resonating

J.C. Penney CEO Ron Johnson is taking over direct responsibility for marketing in the wake of the departure of Michael Francis, who left the company abruptly on Monday, Women’s Wear Daily reported.

Speculation has been raging about the reasons behind Francis’ sudden exit after just eight months on the job. In the article, Johnson blamed it on the fact that J.C. Penney’s marketing had not resonated with its core customer and that he “had to get involved.”. . . more

Whole Foods moves toward South End location

The former headquarters of Boston's blue-collar tabloid could become home to a new, South End location for an upscale supermarket chain.

Whole Foods Market Inc. is reportedly eyeing One Herald Square, formerly home to the Boston Herald, for its first location in the tony South End neighborhood.. . . more

New chapter for Boston Public Library: Retail?

The Boston Public Library's main branch is considering adding retail. 

The first few floors of the Boston Public Library's Copley Square branch could be transformed into a boutique shopping center, according to a source familiar with the proposal.

A plan under discussion at City Hall could turn as much as 150,000 square feet of space in the 1972 Johnson Building into a restaurant that would spill onto Boylston Street, as well as an assortment of other retail from the basement to the third level. The library’s interior could be wrapped in glass, similar to the nearby Apple store, with a new entrance on Exeter Street.. . . more

Bank Downgrades Won’t Impact CRE Lending—Yet

The impact of Moody’s massive and greatly-anticipated downgrades on 15 major banks has the majority of the commercial real estate industry feeling unfazed after US stocks and financial institutions rallied as of market close on Friday. But sources tell that while the credit cuts should not impact commercial real estate financing, larger concerns—such as job growth, global volatility and economic uncertainty—have the potential to cause a slowdown in leasing and sales across all property types.

“The banks impacted by the downgrades will still have to compete with other providers of capital to the sector,” Patrick Crandall, a senior managing director in the Los Angeles office of Cushman & Wakefield, tells . . more

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Demolition begins, bigger plans afoot for Polaroid site

Crews raze a building on the Polaroid property last week. Demolition crews last week tackle a building on the old Polaroid property next to Route 128/Interstate 95 in Waltham. Demolition crews last week tackle a building on the old Polaroid property next to Route 128/Interstate 95 in Waltham.Developer Sam Park is huddling with state and Waltham officials on how to revamp local roadways to make way for a giant second phase of his redevelopment of the old Polaroid campus alongside Route 128.

The Boston-based developer is wrapping up the demolition of some of the remaining Polaroid buildings on the 120-acre property, and preparing to start construction next spring on the first phase of 280,000 square feet of offices, retail space, and restaurants.. . . more

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Greater Hartford, CT KeyPoint Report Preview

The KeyPoint Report on retail real estate in Greater Hartford, Connecticut will be available soon at Below are highlights from the findings in this year’s report:

Total retail space in Greater Hartford included 37.4 million square feet at the end of the 2012 study period, a nominal decrease from the 37.5 million square feet reported last year. Some spaces converted to non-retail uses, contributing to the negligible decline in inventory this year. The most salient point regarding total inventory in the region is that there was virtually no net change. New retail construction moved at a snail’s pace as developers remained on the sideline. Existing conditions in the market may be playing a large part in their decision.. . . more

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Barnes & Noble 4Q loss narrows

Barnes & Noble said Tuesday that its fiscal fourth-quarter loss narrowed as the company continues to invest in its Nook e-reader business and adjust to the evolving book business.They also benefited from Borders closing last year.

"Barnes & Noble is now the only place across this country for consumers to shop a large assortment of physical books, magazines and other media," CEO William Lynch said. "We saw the benefit of this unmatched selection and increased sale and traffic into the stores in the full year fiscal 2012 and the fourth quarter.". . . more

Burlington Coat Factory to build $41m headquarters

Retailer Burlington Coat Factory Warehouse Corporation is to build a new $41m headquarters in Burlington County in the State of New Jersey, which will provide jobs for around 750 people.

Burlington Coat Factory has a multi-department retail chain with 482 stores.
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Penney CEO Johnson says he'll stand by marketing strategy

J.C. Penney will tweak its marketing message but won't back off its strategy that has caused a drop in the Plano-based retailer's sales this year, CEO Ron Johnson told the Wall Street Journal.

The Journal reported that Johnson remains committed to the strategy. Earlier this week Penney ousted Michael Francis as president in an acknowledgment that the strategy had driven away shoppers.. . . more

N.H.'s smaller movie theaters' costly conundrum: go digital or risk going under

For Bob Scharmett, who has owned the Milford Drive-In Theater for 44 years, the choice to convert his two outdoor movie screens to digital projection wasn't much of a choice at all. It was convert or die.

"In the very near future, you'll either be in digital or you won't be in business," said Scharmett.. . . more

7-Eleven Exercises the Principles of Smart Growth

In a market where only select tenants are undertaking rapid expansions, convenience store chain 7-Eleven has been one of the stand-outs. Last year, the chain opened more than 600 stores in U.S. and Canada. This year, it plans to achieve a new opening target of 630 stores, most of it on the U.S. side of the border.

But the company does have very specific preferences about where it would like to put new 7-Eleven stores.. . . more

Amazon’s Impact in Square Footage

In an effort to explore the impact of on brick-and-mortar retailer Best Buy, Suzanne Mulvee, senior real estate strategist with Boston-based Property & Portfolio Research, a CoStar company, created a graph that translates Amazon’s share of the electronics market into square footage. It turns out the online retailer has grown its footprint from one seventh of Best Buy’s store fleet to the equivalent of approximately 50 percent of its store fleet, or 20.1 million sq. ft., in just four years.

“Under the old paradigm, the strength of your real estate mattered: if you had better-located stores, especially in supply-constrained markets, then you’d be insulated from new competition,” Mulvee writes.. . . more

How Augmented Reality Is Shaping the Future of Retail

What’s the future of retail, and how far away is it? Turns out that in the next couple of years, customers will be able to try on clothes and products at home with no shipping required. Technology will allow shoppers to virtually wear garments — smelling, hearing and feeling the fabric as if it were real. . . more

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

New retail outlet proposed at Foxwoods

Tanger Factory Outlet Centers, a retail company based in Greensboro, N.C., and Gordon Group, a development company based in Greenwich, Conn., said they will jointly develop an upscale retail outlet at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Ledyard, Conn.

The two companies will build, manage and own the proposed 312,000-square foot center. The retail stores are designed to connect the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino and the Grand Pequot Casino Hotel.. . . more

Walmart Supercenter wins pricing battle over Amazon and

Walmart Supercenter wins the pricing battle over Amazon and, according to a new study by Kantar Retail. The study evaluates how a Walmart Supercenter basket contends with its online equivalent,, and its key online competitor, Amazon.

The study included a basket of 36 national brand items from four categories: edible grocery, non-edible grocery, health & beauty aids, and general merchandise. Basket contents were pre-determined to achieve a diverse mix of categories that represent the range of purchase options available to shoppers, with only identical items from all three venues included.. . . more

Michael Francis departs J.C. Penney

In an announcement that caught the retail industry by surprise, J.C. Penney Co. said that Michael Francis will be leaving the company, effective June 18. Chief executive Ron Johnson will assume direct responsibility and oversight of the company's marketing and merchandising functions.

Francis became president of J.C. Penney on Oct. 4. His appointment was seen as the handiwork of then-incoming CEO Johnson, who is himself a former Target executive. No reason was given for Francis’ departure.. . . more

Activists claim victory over Wal-Mart’s decision to not build stores in Somerville and Watertown

Activists are declaring victory over Wal-Mart’s decision not build stores in Somerville and Watertown, Mass.

“This is a tremendous victory with national implications,” said Russ Davis, executive director of Massachusetts Jobs With Justice, one of the groups opposing the proposed expansion, in a statement. “All we asked for was a democratic discussion on the merits of Wal-Mart’s case and Wal-Mart chose to pack up and leave instead.”. . . more

Downtown Macy’s expands hours, will add bookstore

Macy’s Inc. is giving a vote of confidence to efforts to resuscitate Boston’s Downtown Crossing.

The department store chain has extended the hours of its Hub store and plans to incorporate a Barbara’s Bookstore section in its lower level to fill the void left by Borders’ closure last year.. . . more

Cambridge gets an H Mart

Korean grocery chain H Mart has signed a lease to open an 18,000-square-foot supermarket in Cambridge in the space that Harvest Co-op has occupied in Central Square for more than 20 years.

H Mart is moving into the Massachusetts Avenue building in September and planning a multimillion-dollar renovation that will last about six months. . . more

Monday, June 18, 2012

MBTA to open new retail kiosks in 8 stations

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority is looking for bids on 11 new retail kiosk locations in eight MBTA stations, a third-party contractor announced Friday. . . more

New on Newbury Street

Mixed-use modern building proposed for empty site

RARE SPACE: Glynn Hospitality plans... Glynn Hospitality Group has floated plans to fill a “missing tooth” parcel on Newbury Street with a new retail and residential building — sparking concerns in the Back Bay about the project’s scale.

The family-run operator of popular restaurants and Irish pubs across the Hub wants to put up a five-story building in a rare gap on Newbury between the hip Sonsie restaurant and a row of three-story apartment houses on Hereford Street that Glynn owns.. . . more

Promising Signs for Commercial Real Estate

Despite lingering economic uncertainty, REIT industry analysts, investors and CEOs appear to be maintaining a strong outlook for commercial real estate in the second half of 2012.

Approaching the halfway point of the year, the FTSE NAREIT All REIT Total Returns Index was up 10.88 percent through June 14. A survey conducted jointly by professional services firm PwC and the Urban Land Institute, a research institution, indicated there’s growing optimism about the remainder of the year throughout the commercial real estate industry. Survey participants forecasting “good-to-excellent” profits for 2012 increased from 42 percent at the beginning of the year to 48 percent in the latest report.
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Self-checkouts gaining popularity

Top PhotoConsumers give mixed reviews, but retailers say self-checkouts are here to stay.

The Home Depot finds one-third of its customers prefer self-checkout, one third don't, and one-third simply look for the fastest line, spokeswoman Jennifer King said.

"So, to take it out would disappoint a very large segment of customers," King said. . . more

Schulze's baby could turn into RadioShack

Richard M. Schulze reminded us 10 days ago that he is the founder of Best Buy Co. Inc., and it is still his baby.

In quitting the board of the struggling retailer, Schulze said he was mulling options for the 68.9 million shares of stock he controls. Scenarios range all the way up to a transaction that puts him back in control of the Richfield-based company.. . . more

A Year Into Borders Liquidation, Space Absorption Progresses as Expected

A recent story in The Wall Street Journal bemoans the fact that big box vacancies are hard to fill and that shopping center owners are defaulting on their mortgages because of it. But a brief survey of retail real estate insiders reveals that the story paints a misleading picture.

For example, it is true that today, approximately one-third of former Borders spaces remain vacant, according to research completed by brokerage firm Colliers International. But given that the real estate sector only recently came out of one of the worst downturns on record and that less than a year has passed since Borders filed for liquidation in July 2011, the fact that two-thirds of its stores have already been re-leased speaks to a healthy amount of demand in the big-box sector, according to Andy Graiser, co-president of AG Realty Partners, a Melville, N.Y.-based retail real estate investment firm.. . . more

Friday, June 15, 2012

Walmart abandons plans for stores in Somerville, Watertown

Walmart Stores Inc. said it is abandoning efforts to build a grocery market in Somerville and a big-box store in Watertown, saying the projects no longer make financial sense for the world’s largest retailer.

“One of the primary deciding factors on any given site – whether it’s in an urban, suburban or rural market – is that it makes sense from a business perspective and contributes to our bottom line,” said Walmart spokesman Steven Restivo. “In the case of the Somerville and Watertown sites, we made a business decision that the projected cost of investment would ultimately exceed our expected return.”. . . more

Vornado asset sales could top $1 billion

Vornado Realty Trust could sell more than $1 billion in assets this year, its chief executive said on Tuesday.

"We have the best part of a billion dollars in aspirations to sell by the end of the year, maybe even far more than that," Vornado CEO Michael Fascitelli told investors attending the National Real Estate Investment Trusts' Investor Forum called REITWeek 2012.. . . more

Just what America needs: Pizza vending machines

PIZZA_20120614144615_JPGEver have a sudden urge for crisp-crusted, ooey-gooey, cheesy pizza? You want it STAT. Not in the time it takes to preheat the oven to 500 degrees for a frozen pizza. Not in the 20 minutes it takes for the pizza delivery guy to arrive. And certainly not in however many hours it would take to make homemade dough and marinara sauce.

Get ready for Let's Pizza, a pizza vending machine that promises to deliver a piping hot pizza pie made from scratch in less than three minutes. . . . more

Ascena Retail to shutter Fashion Bug

Ascena Retail Group on Friday said that it has completed its acquisition of Charming Shoppes. The company also announced that it plans to cease operating and close down Charming Shoppes’ Fashion Bug business by early 2013, and is exploring a potential sale of Charming Shoppes’ Figi’s business, which markets food and specialty gift products.

In 2011, Charming Shoppes closed 124 Fashion Bug stores. The chain had previously announced its intention to continue to close certain Fashion Bug stores.. . . more

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Aesop a natural on Newbury St.

Australian skin care company Aesop will open a Newbury Street boutique in early August, only its third U.S. location. . . more

Study ranks Macy’s, Sephora and Michael Kors as Facebook ‘geniuses’

Macy’s, Sephora, Michael Kors and Lancome were ranked as Facebook “geniuses” in the second annual L2 Facebook IQ Index, developed in partnership with Buddy Media, a social enterprise software firm.

The Index measured the “aptitude” of 100 luxury and prestige brands across beauty, fashion, specialty retail, and watches & jewelry on Facebook. . . more