Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Moody's: U.S. apparel earnings to improve this back-to-school season

Lower cotton costs will boost the earnings of US retail apparel companies during the coming back-to-school season, according to a report by Moody's Investors Service.

The report, "Back to School: Lower Cotton Costs, Gas Prices Set Stage for Higher 3Q Earnings,” notes that for the third quarter overall, Moody's expects the apparel-makers' growth in earnings to outpace their growth in sales. . . more

Church to get say over waitress' uniforms at proposed Quincy bar

Sports pub operator Tilted Kilt will have to make its case a second time before a city licensing board in Quincy, Aug. 28, after a local pastor expressed concerns about the chain's reputation for scantily clad waitresses. . . more

Shaw's parent replaces CEO

Supervalu (NYSE: SVU) has replaced its chief executive, the company announced Monday: Craig Herkert is out at the troubled supermarket chain operator, and Chairman Wayne C. Sales will take over the corner office. . . more

H&M is Expanding South, West

Uniqlo isn't the only fast-fashion retailer expanding this year. After announcing plans for a 24,000 square foot store in Austin last week, H&M has just signed a lease on two Miami flagships, WWD reports—the first time the brand has ventured into Southern Florida.. . . more

Research report: Most retailers plan to use mobile gift cards

Research released Thursday by Transaction Wireless and Aberdeen Group, which examined the benefits of mobile and digital gifting and emerging trends in mobile and social frontiers, found a shift toward digital gifting.

In fact, online gift cards have risen to prominence in the past few years and are now used by nearly a third (28%) of retailers. More than half – 61% – plan to use mobile gift cards, and 43% of customers prefer to use the mobile medium for gift cards. . . more

Eastern Bank will merge with Brockton-based Community Bank

Eastern Bank of Boston and the Community Bank of Brockton said Friday that they plan to merge by year’s end.

Eastern Bank is a mutual bank and the Community Bank is a cooperative bank, and no premium was paid, the two banks said.

In a statement, Community Bank president and chief executive John J. O’Connor III said that his bank, with five branches and $323.9 million in assets and $278.3 million in deposits, “needed a partner in order to meet the needs of our communities.”. . . more

Late-night cookie chain eyes Harvard Sq. restaurant

Insomnia Cookies, a chain of late-night cookie delivery shops, may be opening a new location in Harvard Square, aiming to bake late-night snacks for Harvard University students.

Insomnia Marketing Manager Renee Sarnecky told the Harvard Crimson the company is eyeing a store at 65 Mt. Auburn St. . . more

Friday, July 27, 2012

Costco's Extraordinary Advantage

Costco has a massive advantage over most of its retailing rivals: extreme loyalty from its customers (who renew their memberships at high rates) and employees (who rarely turn over).

The turnover rate of Costco employees is less than 10%, according to CEO Jim Senegal. That includes all seasonal help and all the part-time people that are working for Costco as well. Once they're with Costco for a year, that goes below 5%.. . . more

U.S. weighs retail sweep after Wal-Mart bribery scandal

U.S. authorities are considering launching a wide-ranging examination of the retail industry for violations of an anti-foreign bribery law, after Wal-Mart and other retailers have come forth with their own potential offenses, people familiar with the matter said.

Retailers have been reviewing their international operations in light of a bribery scandal at Wal-Mart Stores Inc's operations in Mexico that is the subject of investigations by the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission.. . . more

Stop & Shop opens Hyannis store

Stop & Shop announced Friday that at 6 a.m. the same morning, the Quincy, Mass.-based supermarket chain had opened the doors at a new store in Hyannis, Mass., at 1220 Iayannough Rod.

The store is 65,000 square feet, and replaces an existing Stop & Shop, a quarter mile away on Independence Road.. . . more

Salem French fry chain plans up to 3 locations in Boston expansion

A suburban Massachusetts French-fry restaurant, 3Potato4, is planning to expand to Boston, eyeing restaurants at the Prudential Center, the W Hotel and the Theater District, in hopes it can create a restaurant empire selling potatoes as health food.

3Potato4 is eyeing expansion to other cities – New Orleans, Las Vegas and New York.. . . more

Thursday, July 26, 2012

J. Jill under review for possible credit downgrade

Moody’s Investors Service has placed J. Jill, a retailer of women’s apparel and footwear, under review for a potential credit downgrade due to the Quincy, Mass.-based company's failure to provide audited financial statements to its lenders, an omission that triggered a technical default on some $115 million in debt outstanding. . . more

Whole Foods to open 1st store in Howard County

Whole Foods Market is planning to open its first store in Howard County by the fall of 2014.

The Baltimore Sun reports that Whole Foods plans to move into the longtime headquarters of the Rouse Co. on Little Patuxent Parkway in Columbia. The Howard Hughes Corp., which owns the building, and Whole Foods Market, said Wednesday that the upscale grocer has signed a lease for 45,000 square feet of space.. . . more

J.C. Penney plans to adjust pricing strategy again

Plano-based retailer J.C. Penney Co. will make deep price cuts in much of its merchandise in a shift in tactics for CEO Ron Johnson, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The newspaper reported that Penney will end its monthlong specials that reduced prices on some merchandise by 20 to 29 percent and instead will mark down a large amount of merchandise by a similar amount permanently.. . . more

Whole Foods profit soars 32% in Q3; on track in goal toward 1,000 stores

Whole Foods Market said it continues its forward march, posting a profit of $116.8 million for the quarter ended July 1, a rise of 32% over last year’s quarterly results. Sales for the quarter surged 14% to $2.7 billion, and same-store sales increased 8%.

The grocer opened a record nine new stores in the third quarter, one in the fourth and plans another six by fiscal year end – bringing this year’s total to 25 new stores. Twelve new leases have been signed and the company maintains it is on track to grow the chain to 1,000 stores from its current 369 count.. . . more

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Outback Steakhouse to replace Big Papi’s Grille

Outback Steakhouse is on deck to replace Big Papi’s Grille, David Ortiz's shuttered restaurant on Route 9 in Framingham, Mass.

A demolition crew completed work this week on razing the 11,786-square-foot Boston Red Sox slugger’s eatery that closed last summer. Crosspoint Associates of Natick, the landlord, is planning to commence construction soon on a 240-seat Outback in a 12,532-square-foot building that will also have space for up to three new retailers, according to the Framingham Planning Board.. . . more

Lululemon Athletica to join Chestnut Hill Shopping Center

Lululemon Athletica, a pricey athletic apparel store catering to yoga enthusiasts, is the latest retailer to sign a lease at the Chestnut Hill Shopping Center in Newton, Mass.

The 3,100-square-foot store joins other new retailers at the 406,000-square-foot center, including Pottery Barn, The Sports Club/LA, Cinema de Lux, Polarn O. Pyret, Shake Shack, Pinkberry, Treat Cupcake Bar, and Bernard’s. Occupancy is expected for next year.. . . more

Linear pays $1.79M for retail condos in South End

Linear acquired two retail condos on Columbus Ave. for $1.79 million.

Linear Retail Properties has purchased a pair of retail condominiums on the ground floor of the Bryant Back Bay in Boston for $1.79 million.

The acquisitions are located at 303 Columbus Avenue at the edge of the Back Bay and South End neighborhoods, between Clarendon and Dartmouth etreets. The retail condos total 2,970 square feet.. . . more

Whole Foods To Anchor Retail At Old Herald Site

A 50,000-square-foot Whole Foods Market store will anchor the retail portion of the planned Ink Block South End redevelopment of the former Boston Herald property on Harrison Avenue in Boston. 

The store will be the chain's largest in Boston, according to a statement from project developer National Development.  Ink Block South End will feature retail and restaurant space on the ground floor with 471 apartments.. . . more

Net Lease Cap Rates Continue Falling

In spite of predictions to the contrary, average cap rates for net leased retail properties compressed another 25 basis points from the first to the second quarter of 2012, according to a new report from The Boulder Group, a Northbrook, Ill.-based firm specializing in the single tenant net leased sector. Retail was the most favored asset class among net lease investors, while cap rates on office properties rose 25 basis points and on industrial properties six basis points, to above 8 percent.

Also, the bid-ask gap for retail assets has narrowed by six basis points, to 26 basis points in the second quarter.. . . more

RadioShack Reports $21 Million Q2 Loss

RadioShack Corp. reported a $21 million loss for its second quarter, surprising Wall Street as sales of consumer electronics and personal computer accessories dropped.

The chain’s troubles are symbolic of wider problems in the brick-and-mortar electronics industry. RadioShack and Best Buy Co. are dealing with shoppers increasingly move away from devices like computers and cameras to buy tablets and smartphones, which are less profitable for retailers.. . . more

Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage launches IPO

Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage Inc. is making its debut as a public company Wednesday.

The family-owned company, which started in the 1950s by Margaret and Philip Isley, is now run by the second generation of the Isley family. Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage has 54 stores in 10 states.. . . more

Wet Seal in talks with Clinton Group

One day after releasing its CEO, teen retailer Wet Seal confirmed it is in talks with major shareholder Clinton Group regarding a potential sale of the company.

Wet Seal fired chief executive Susan McGalla on Monday, citing downward spiraling sales during her 11-month tenure. Clinton Group then ramped up its insistence that Wet Seal put itself up for sale.. . . more

J.C. Penney to open 700 Joe Fresh store-in-stores in April 2013

J.C. Penney announced Wednesday a partnership with Canadian fast-fashion brand Joe Fresh that will see some 700 Joe Fresh in-store boutiques open in J.C. Penney department stores in April 2013.

The move is part of J.C. Penney’s plan to ramp up its store-in-store offerings. The retailer previously announced similar partnerships with Levi’s and other denim brands to augment its current Sephora and MNG by Mango in-store offerings, among others. J.C. Penney's goal under new CEO and former Apple exec Ron Johnson is to launch two or three shop-in-shops per month with a goal of reaching 80 to 100 by 2015.. . . more

Proposed Allston development would top Harvard Stadium

Harvard Stadium aerial view on game dayDavid Manfredi of Elkus Manfredi Architects on Monday presented a tentative plan for Barry's Corner Housing and Retail Commons, a proposed development at the corner of North Harvard Street and Western Avenue in Boston's Allston neighborhood.

The architect laid out plans at the Harvard-Allston Task Force Meeting for a six-story mixed-use building comprising about 300 residential units and street-level retail. It would stand higher than Harvard Stadium, the Crimson reports.. . . more

E-tail to Retail

In the earlier days of this publication there was a section called E-commerce Corner, a separate portion of the news dedicated to reporting – apart from “real” retail news - the latest trends in the growing world of internet sales.. . . more

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Supervalu execs offered extra pay, options to stay put

Supervalu Inc., which is engaged in a potential sale or restructuring, has offered retention pay and options benefits to four top executives if they stick around through 2014.

The deals affect CEO Craig Herkert, Chief Financial Officer Sherry Smith and executive vice presidents Janel Haugarth (Supervalu's supply chain chief) and Andrew Herring (the company's top real estate executive). Herkert only received options; the others also signed retention benefits. . . more

Supermarkets add mobile to the shopping list

Grocery shopping seems like a great fit for mobile because it enables consumers to always have a shopping list and coupons handy on their smartphones. However, while supermarkets have moved slowly into mobile so far, there are signs this is beginning to change.

The number of grocery retailers with a mobile presence increased 110 percent in the first half of 2012 as these merchants, according to MyWebGrocer. While the increase is off of a small base and many of these are tests, more grocery retailers are expected to jump into mobile this year and next.. . . more

Apple iPads, in-store Levi’s shops part of J.C. Penney renewal moves

At J.C. Penney Co.’s Manhattan flagship location, a 1,300 square-foot in-store shop featuring 11 fits and 88 washes of Levi’s jeans for men was unveiled on Monday.

Walking into the area was like walking into a specialty Levi’s store. Some Penney staff were trained as Levi’s “fit specialists” and outfitted with Apple iPads to check shoppers out on the spot, with the company seeking to make its stores mobile-check-out capable by the end of the year, said Ben Fay, executive vice president of real estate, store design and development, at a media preview.  There were also iPads on a table for shoppers to look online for additional information.. . . more

The Dying Discount Department Store

Is it time to eulogize the department store? The most recent retail sales data from the Commerce Department show a retail species in trouble. In June, department store sales were down by 3.2 percent from one year ago. In the second quarter they were also down 2.4 percent from one year prior. Altogether, department stores' sales have declined considerably since 2001, when they approached $20 billion per month. Now, they are at around $15.1 billion.

But that's not the whole story. . . . more

Wet Seal fires CEO as sales sink

Wet Seal said Monday it has fired CEO Susan McGalla, effectively immediately, citing “financial performance of the chain” as the sole reason for her termination.

Wet Seal has struggled mightily over the last year and, in May, announced it would close its Arden B chain as well as slow Wet Seal’s growth in order to tighten cost controls. Sales have continued to drop over the summer months and on Monday Wet Seal cut its outlook for the quarter ending July.. . . more

Mayor eyes better idea than Ikea

Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone believes the city stands to reap greater benefits from a 12-acre Assembly Square parcel now that Ikea no longer plans to build a store on the site.

The property — next to a new MBTA Orange Line station under construction — can now be developed more in accordance with Federal Realty’s adjacent $1.5 billion mixed-use Assembly Row project, which recently broke ground on 45 acres along the Mystic River, Curtatone said.. . . more

Bulfinch acquires Atrium Mall for $46M

The troubled Atrium Mall in Newton, Mass., has been sold to an affiliate of the Bulfinch Cos., a Needham, Mass.-based real estate investment and development firm.

Bulfinch declined to disclose the price, but the company paid $46 million to Simon Property Group, the nation’s largest real estate investment trust, according to the Middlesex County Registry of Deeds.. . . more

Monday, July 23, 2012

Faneuil operator feasts on Durgin-Park

The operator of Faneuil Hall Marketplace, which spent $136 million on lease rights to the shopping center a year ago, plunked down another $4 million for a rare, privately owned piece of the historic retail complex this week.

Ashkenazy Acquisition Corp., a real estate investor in New York City, acquired two North Market “units” that house the venerable Durgin-Park restaurant. The seller was a partnership formed by members of the Kelley family that operated Durgin-Park for three decades before selling it in 2007.. . . more

JCPenney cutting out cashiers

J.C. Penney Co. Inc. plans to boost business by getting rid of check-out counters.

CEO Ron Johnson said the department store is replacing its entire technology infrastructure with a new system that doesn’t require clerks. Shoppers will use self-checkout machines, similar to those found in many grocery stores.. . . more

Target Remodels 30 Stores to Expand Fresh Food Selection

Target Corp. announced today that it has begun remodeling 30 general merchandise stores in the U.S. Upon completion of the construction in October 2012, the remodeled stores will offer an expanded selection of affordable and quality fresh foods to guests.

Nearly 1,100 Target stores currently offer an expanded food layout. At these Target stores, approximately 10,000 square feet is dedicated to a vast array of fresh food choices, including a curated assortment of fresh produce, fresh packaged meat and pre-packaged baked goods, in addition to dry and frozen offerings.. . . more

Penney sells $248 mln worth stake in Simon Property unit

U.S. department store chain J.C. Penney Co Inc said on Monday that it sold a portion of its stake in a Simon Property Group Inc unit to raise $248 million in cash.

Last year, Penney had decided "it was necessary to review and, where appropriate, monetize assets that are not core to our operations," Chief Financial Officer Ken Hannah said. "Today's announcement represents the first step toward executing this plan.. . . more

Former Sears interim CEO Johnson to head its spun-off unit

Sears Holdings said its former interim CEO Bruce Johnson has agreed to serve as chief executive and president of Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores Inc once the business is spun off from the retailer.

Johnson, who had served as interim CEO of the parent company from 2008 to early 2011, was most recently the executive vice president of the company's off-mall businesses.. . . more

Back-to-school spending expected to reach $30.3 billion

A survey released by the National Retail Federation and conducted by BIGInsight found that the average parent will spend $688.62 on back-to-school items this year, compared with $603.63 last year. Total spending is expected to reach $30.3 billion.

NRF cited an increased number of children entering elementary and middle school this fall, as well as necessary back-to-school replenishments after last year’s cutbacks, for the predicted improvements.. . . more

Boston's Downtown Crossing to get $3.2M touch-up

Downtown Crossing, Boston's troubled downtown retail shopping district, will get $3.2 million in city funds for improvements including sidewalk repairs, new signs and road paving.

Private developers are expected to spend $10 million in similar improvements over the next few years, the Globe reports, including a new entryway for the MBTA station at the corner of Franklin and Washington streets.. . . more

Friday, July 20, 2012

Kohl’s slated for Keene

Kohl's department store plans to move into half of the former Sears building in the Fairbanks Plaza on West Street in Keene, NH. Property owner H.J. Heyman Sons LLC is looking to split the building and install the department store on the side closest to the highway.

This 57,925-square-foot space will have a new entrance, shifted roughly 75 feet to the left. The edge of the space will align with the previous location of the Sears garden center, which will be removed to allow for additional parking.. . . more

A Store Without a Checkout Counter? JCPenney Presses on with Retail Revolution

Considering that America's fastest growing retailer is Amazon, and that online retailing is booming compared to brick-and-mortar shopping, it’d be better to be a purely online operation going forward, right? Not so, according to JCPenney CEO Ron Johnson. “If I had to pick today, would I rather be an online-only retailer trying to compete ten years from now, or a physical retailer trying to compete ten years from now?” he said. “Knowing that the digital and physical worlds come together, I’d take the physical retailer in a heartbeat.”. . . more

Facebook, Wal-Mart chiefs meet to "deepen" relationship

Facebook Inc Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg is about to add the biggest retail players to his list of friends.

Zuckerberg and his senior management team will spend two days at Wal-Mart Stores Inc's Bentonville, Arkansas home office this week, meeting with executives of the world's largest retailer and discussing ways to "deepen" their relationship.. . . more

First CityTarget stores debut July 25

The first of Target’s smaller-format CityTarget urban stores are slated to open on July 25 in Chicago, Los Angeles and Seattle.

Two years in the making, the smaller stores will feature broad offerings in a space two-thirds the size of a regular Target store – or 80,000 sq. ft. to 100,000 sq. ft., compared with 135,000 sq. ft. to 175,000 sq. ft.
. . . more

Berkshires Burger King franchisee still mum on closings

Three weeks after they closed abruptly, the fate of three Burger King restaurants remains a mystery. Two of the closed Burger Kings are located in Pittsfield, while the third is in Lenox.

The three restaurants closed during the last week in June. Signs originally stated that the closings would be temporary. But Burger King signs have been removed from all three locations.. . . more

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Ikea pulls plan for store in Somerville’s Assembly Square

After more than a decade of planning, furniture giant Ikea had decided not to build a second Massachusetts store at Assembly Square in Somerville, punching a hole in the city’s efforts to redevelop a huge swath of former industrial property near its border with Boston.

An executive with Ikea informed the city of its decision today, writing in a letter to Mayor Joseph Curtatone that the company believes its one store in Stoughton is sufficient for Massachusetts and that it will now sell off the Somerville property.. . . more

Ron Johnson sticking with J.C. Penney’s new pricing strategy

J.C. Penney CEO Ron Johnson said that he is sticking with the chain’s new pricing strategy and that the company’s board of directors was “totally supportive.”

In remarks at Fortune magazine's Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen, Col., Johnson acknowledged that J.C. Penney initially confused customers when it came to explaining the new pricing strategy.. . . more

Back-to-school spending expected to reach $30.3 billion

A survey released by the National Retail Federation and conducted by BIGInsight found that the average parent will spend $688.62 on back-to-school items this year, compared with $603.63 last year. Total spending is expected to reach $30.3 billion.

NRF cited an increased number of children entering elementary and middle school this fall, as well as necessary back-to-school replenishments after last year’s cutbacks, for the predicted improvements.. . . more

Panel sets timetable for casino bids

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission said it will be ready to issue casino licenses as early as next fall.

In June, Suffolk Downs unveiled plans for a $1 billion resort-style casino at the 163-acre race track. The proposal includes 200,000 square feet of gambling space, 200 table games, as many as 5,000 slot machines, up to 10 restaurants, theaters, a hotel and the racetrack. Mohegan Sun has proposed a casino for Palmer in western Massachusetts featuring a 600-room hotel and spa, casino gambling, retail stores and restaurants. The Wampanoag Tribe is seeking land in Taunton for a casino.. . . more

State to developer: No supermarket no deal

Site on the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway for One Canal, a residential and retail project.

In the strongest terms yet, state and city officials have told a Boston developer that plans for a $175 million residential complex on the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway cannot proceed without a supermarket.

“We are requiring the developer to have a supermarket,” said William Tuttle, deputy director for the Office of Real Estate and Asset Development at the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) which owns the 1.5-acre parcel. “It will be a precondition to executing the lease that there be a sublease with a supermarket operator.”. . . more

Marrett Square Mall in Lexington sold for $2.5M

Marrett Square retail shopping center in Lexington has been sold for $2.52 million.

Stone River Properties LLC has purchased the Marrett Square retail shopping center in Lexington, Mass. for $2.52 million.

Located on Marrett Road, Route 2A, Marrett Square is occupied by regional and local tenants such as Anton’s Cleaners, Boston Nail & Spa, Blue Vintage Salon and Royal Pastry. The 16,791-square-foot retail center is located at an intersection that is 1.5 miles from I-95 and within walking distance of Lexington Center.. . . more

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Gap’s Athleta Stalks Lululemon One Yoga Store at a Time

Last month Lululemon Athletica Inc. opened a store in Durham, North Carolina. Three weeks later Athleta answer to Lululemon, opened its own location in the same mall.

The pattern -- Lululemon store opens, Athleta shop pops up nearby -- is happening across the U.S. as Gap mounts the most potent threat so far to the Vancouver-based yoga powerhouse.. . . more

Home Improvement Retailers Better Watch Out, Amazon Is Coming

As if the home improvement retail category doesn’t have enough to worry about, what with the continuously crappy housing marketing. Now it appears Amazon.com is gunning to be the store of choice for contractors and the DIY set.

Amazon’s move to start collecting sales tax allows it to build distribution centers in major markets. Already the retailer is offering next day delivery, working to make it standard for Amazon prime user members. Same day delivery is reportedly not far behind.. . . more

Gasoline prices dampen consumer inflation

Consumer prices were flat in June as the cost of gasoline dropped, offering some relief for cash-strapped Americans and scope for the Federal Reserve to ease monetary policy further to help the faltering recovery.

Other data on Tuesday showed industrial output rebounded in June, but not enough to counter the trend of a slowdown in growth at the country's factories.. . . more

Ace Hardware launches 'Express' store format for smaller spaces

Ace Hardware has launched an “Express” format for both current Ace retailers and other business owners seeking to integrate the Ace brand into their existing offerings. The new, more compact stores average 5,000-sq.-ft. or less, and include customized merchandising displays and stock more than 11,000 of the most popular and profitable hardware products.

“At this time, there are nearly 400 successful Ace Hardware retail locations operating within less than 5,000 sq. ft., and the consistent high performance of these stores proved we had an incredible opportunity to create a specialized, smaller-format Ace retail model,” said Mike Berschauer, director, retail development, Ace Hardware Corp.. . . more

Shoppers line up for first crack at new Nashua Trader Joe’s

It wasn’t quite a midnight mob for a “Harry Potter” movie opening, but for a grocery store, it was impressive: More than 30 people were lined up Monday morning, waiting for the official opening of New Hampshire’s first Trader Joe’s.

“I like the openness, the friendliness,” said Chip Cirello of Nashua, a marketing rep who, like most people in line, previously shopped at the Trader Joe’s a mile down Daniel Webster Highway in Tyngsborough, Mass.. . . more

Monday, July 16, 2012

Attention shoppers: Discounter Daffy's is done

Daffy's Inc., a staple of the New York shopping community for over half a century, is closing its doors. The Secaucus, N.J.-based discount retailer, which had been rumored to be in financial turmoil, said Monday that all stores will be shuttering over the next few months, as part of a company liquidation.

The discounter, which employs 1,300, operates a total of 19 locations.. . . more