Friday, March 29, 2013

Wal-Mart may use customers to deliver packages to online buyers


Walmart is considering a radical plan to have store customers deliver packages to online buyers, a new twist on speedier delivery services that the company hopes will enable it to better compete with Amazon.com.
Tapping customers to deliver goods would put the world's largest retailer squarely in middle of a new phenomenon sometimes known as "crowd-sourcing," or the "sharing economy." ...more

Bay Area Google shoppers to see same-day delivery starting Thursday


Google Thursday morning unveiled the early rollout of same-day, Bay Area delivery service for shoppers who use Google to make their online purchases.
Shoppers from San Jose and up the Peninsula to San Francisco can apply to test the same-day delivery service at www.google.com/shopping/express/about/.
Both Google and Facebook are trying to cut into the e-commerce trade currently dominated by the likes of Amazon and Walmart.com as a way to find new sources of revenue while keeping people engaged. ...more

Prescription drugs cost least at Costco and most at CVS


Some of the most popular prescription drugs that recently became available in generic form are sold at the lowest prices at Costco and at the highest prices at CVS Caremark, according to an analysis by Consumer Reports.
Failing to comparison shop for drugs - such as generic Lipitor to lower cholesterol or generic Plavix to thin the blood - could result in overpaying by $100 a month or even more, depending on the drug, the report said. ...more

Seaport District rising but developers say more is needed


With millions of square feet of new projects including 6,000 apartments on the horizon, Boston’s Seaport District is poised to grow in 2013.
But developers who own property in the Hub’s waterfront section say much more is needed to complete the vision of a 24/7 neighborhood.
“Our goal is to get the retail jumping, that’s what lacking,” said John Hynes, CEO of Boston Global Investors. ...more

Silver City's value tumbles as tenant challenges snowball


The Silver City Galleria Mall in Taunton is proving a tougher sell than anticipated.
According to financial filings, the expansive marble-corridored shopping center has seen rent revenue slip in recent months as tenants, stung by slipping sales, have shed space and triggered co-tenancy clauses for neighboring retailers at the property. Co-tenancy clauses typically require landlords to lower rents for remaining lease holders if occupancy dips to a specified level at given property, although details concerning Silver City’s specific arrangements with tenants were not available. ...more

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Return of Best Buy Founder Might Bring Greater Focus


The outlook for Best Buy’s future has become a bit brighter, provided the company’s top brass will be able to agree on its turnaround course going forward. Retail analysts responded enthusiastically to the news that Best Buy founder Richard Schulze would be returning to the fold as chairman emeritus. Most are assuming his presence will help current management adjust the chain’s operating model to a new age.
On March 25, Best Buy announced that Schulze would assume the role of chairman emeritus of its board of directors. Schulze resigned from his post as company chairman in May 2012, after it emerged that he did not inform Best Buy’s audit committee about an affair between then-CEO Brian Dunn and a female employee. ...more

GameStop Q4 profit up, comp store sales down


GameStop Corp reported a nearly 50% increase rise in fourth-quarter profit fueled by gains in its mobile and digital businesses. Profit rose to $261.1 million from $174.7 million.
Revenue for the quarter ended Feb. 2, 2013, totaled $3.56 billion compared to $3.58 billion last year. Same-store sales were down 4.6%. ...more

Kohl’s, Target and Walgreens among brands of the year


Kohl’s was the top finisher in the department store category, followed by Macy’s and J.C. Penney. Target came out on top in the mass merchandiser category, with Walmart in second place.
In drug stores, Walgreens was number one, followed by CVS and Rite Aid.
Here are top finishers in the other retail categories: ...more

Twin Peaks expands in growing segment

While the casual-dining segment has experienced sales pressures at many brands, it has been augmented by growth in the so-called breastaurant category. Among the growing number of players is Twin Peaks, owned by Addison, Texas-based Front Burner Restaurants LP.. . . more

Meet the IKEA of men’s suits

There’s an old adage that you get what you pay for. And it’s a good rule to live by, especially if you haven’t heard of Suitsupply. Canadians soon will, as the Dutch menswear retailer has announced it will make landfall in Canada sometime this year. The company has been dubbed the Ikea of designer suits for its ability to offer executive-salary suiting at intern-level prices. (The average Suitsupply two-button starts at $469.) Founded in Amsterdam in 2000, Suitsupply opened its first North American stores in New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C. last year to much fanfare. Now it’s setting its sights on Toronto, with Calgary, Vancouver and Montreal to follow.. . . more

Five Below sales and profits rise in Q4; 60 stores on tap for 2013

Five Below reported Wednesday that net income for the quarter ended Feb. 2 rose to $19.2 million, compared with $12.4 million in the year-ago period.. . . more

Signet Jewelers to open 65 to 75 U.S. stores

Signet Jewelers Ltd. reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter results, helped by sales gains at its biggest division, Kay Jewelers. The company, which raised its quarterly dividend by 25%, said it anticipates opening 65 to 75 new U.S. stores for the year. 
Signet, which also operates the Jared chain in the United States and the Ernest Jones stores in Britain, said revenue increased 11.8% to $1.51 billion for the quarter ended Feb. 2.. . . more

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

J.C. Penney strategy chief leaves for Home Depot post


The executive in charge of strategic planning for J.C. Penney Co. Inc. has left the Plano-based retailer to take a position with Home Depot Inc. 
Bloomberg reported that Lisa DeStafano-Orebaugh was vice president of strategic planning for J.C. Penney and will be vice president of marketing and brand management at Atlanta-based Home Depot. ...more

The Egg & I Restaurants Continues Its Aggressive Growth


Centennial, Colorado-based, E&I Holdings, Inc., the franchisor of  The Egg & I Restaurants announced today, that it has opened its 73rdand 74th restaurants, in Portland, ME and Dallas, TX continuing its rapid expansion throughout the United States.

The Company currently has an additional twenty-four The Egg and I Restaurants under development and has signed commitments for the development of an additional ninety-two The Egg and I Restaurants over the next few years. ...more

J.C. Penney revives 'mark up to mark down' sales strategy


J.C. Penney Co. said it had resumed a marketing strategy of raising prices and then discounting them on its own brands in a move to protect profit margins and win back the bargain-conscious shoppers it lost last year.

The U.S. retailer began changing the price tags on merchandise this month and should be done in the next few weeks, spokeswoman Daphne Avila said in a statement Tuesday. ...more

$5 'Just Looking' Fee Instituted By Australian Grocery Store


An Australian retailer has a simple message for people who just want to look around: pay up or get out.
A specialty grocery store in Brisbane, Australia, began charging its customers a $5 "just looking" fee in February, Consumerist reports. The policy is intended to curb the "high volume of people who use this store as a reference point and then purchase goods elsewhere." ...more

Consumer confidence falls in March


Americans are less confident in the economy than they were last month as massive government spending cuts have stoked economic uncertainty.
It’s just the latest swing in the way Americans feel about the economy. Their views have fluctuated between optimism and angst over the months as they've weighed an advancing stock market and housing recovery against new economic challenges. ...more

Panera trying new pay-what-you-want experiment


Order a bowl of turkey chili at a St. Louis-area Panera Bread cafe and it'll cost you a penny. Or $5. Or $100. In other words, whatever you decide.
Three years after launching the first of five pay-what-you-want cafes, the suburban St. Louis-based chain on Wednesday quietly began its latest charitable venture that takes the concept on a trial run to all 48 cafes in the St. Louis region. ...more

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

S&P/Case-Shiller Index shows housing recovery


A widely watched measure of U.S. home prices showed average home prices increased significantly.
The S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices released Tuesday morning shows a 7.3% increase for the 10-City Composite and an 8.1% increase for the 20-City Composite in the 12 months ended in January 2013. ...more

Dollar General Sees Trading Down Continue


Dollar General Corp. said Monday it expects to reap ongoing benefits from its ability to serve economically challenged consumers.

"We’ve seen no erosion in what’s happening with the trade-down customer,” Richard W. Dreiling, chairman and chief executive officer, said. “That customer continues to be one of the segments that we continue to grow, so we’re very, very bullish about 2013.
...more

The New Big Box Investment Criteria: What Real Estate Investors Need to Know About Multichannel Retail Strategies


Same-day delivery from major e-commerce retailers during the 2012 holiday season introduced e-commerce as a viable option for last-minute shoppers. Some lucky last-minute consumers both ordered and delivered gifts to friends and family on Christmas Eve—setting a new standard for retailers everywhere. This new expectation from customers is now rippling through the supply chain for all retailers, prompting executives to re-evaluate their real estate strategies, according to a new report from Jones Lang LaSalle.
JLL’s Big Box Outlook report chronicles the transformation of “big box” warehouse and distribution facilities—those exceeding 250,000 square feet—that form the backbone of the retail supply chain. ...more

Lack of Construction Boosts Net Lease Values


Investors are increasingly moving into the net lease property sector, but with few new retail spaces coming to market, cap rates in the arena are expected to continue compressing.
Net lease has become “an in vogue sector at the moment,” says Randy Blankstein, president of the Boulder Group in Northbrook, Ill. Investors are staying conservative and are looking for opportunities that will yield steady, predictable cash flows. Meanwhile, with interest rates low, few investments promise significant yields. ...more

Supervalu to shed 1,100 jobs


Supervalu announced plans to eliminate about 1,100 positions nationwide, or about 3% of its national workforce. The reductions include both current positions and open jobs that will not be filled.
The news comes less than a week after Supervalu completed the sale of five of its grocery banners, including Albertson’s and Shaws/Star Markets. The company said the sale of the five chains means that the remaining business will need "significantly fewer" corporate and store support roles and functions. ...more

Customers Flee Wal-Mart Empty Shelves for Target, Costco


Margaret Hancock has long considered the local Wal-Mart Stores Inc. superstore her one- stop shopping destination. No longer.
During recent visits, the retired accountant from Newark, Delaware, says she failed to find more than a dozen basic items, including certain types of face cream, cold medicine, bandages, mouthwash, hangers, lamps and fabrics. ...more

Smoothie King to open 100 stores in 2013


Smoothie King Franchises said Monday it plans to open 70 franchise and 30 corporate locations across the U.S. in 2013.
Since December 2012, the smoothie franchise has acquired six additional locations in Florida and Texas, bringing the total number of corporate stores to seven. The company also has opened six new franchise locations since the start of the year. ...more

H&M luring the most new customers to its stores


More consumers are trying new fashion retailers this year compared to last year – and most are buying when they do. H&M is the retailer that consumers reported visiting for the first time most often, followed by Kohl’s, Macy’s, Abercrombie & Fitch and Forever 21.
That’s according to a survey of 4,000 consumers by Market Force Information, a global customer intelligence solutions company, which found that 39% had tried a new retailer in the past three months, an increase from 32% in 2011 and 14% in 2010. ..more

Wegmans close to deal to open first Boston store in Fenway’s Landmark Center


Wegmans Food Markets is close to a deal to open its first Boston store in the Fenway neighborhood, in what could be the beginning of a battle with Whole Foods Market Inc. for supermarket supremacy in the city.

The Rochester, N.Y., chain is talks to build a store at the Landmark Center complex at the corner of Boylston Street and Brookline Avenue, a spokeswoman for Wegmans confirmed Monday. Developer Steve Samuels has been working on plans to redevelop the massive office and retail complex for several months. ...more

Monday, March 25, 2013

Think Cabela’s equals man cave? Why outdoor retailer attracts women


Do you think of Cabela’s as the ultimate man cave?

The outdoor retailer wants to make its stores just as appealing to the fairer sex, which is why along with the assortment of rifles, fishing rods and hunting knives, there’s lots of stuff geared exclusively to women, from jewelry to pink NRA T-shirts to running gear. ...more

Publix fights back against Walmart's price-comparison campaign

Publix has taken off the gloves in the fight for our grocery money.

Nearly a year after Walmart began its price-comparison ad campaign against smaller grocers, the Lakeland-based supermarket chain is battling back.. . . more

New York & Company posts Q4 profit

New York & Company reported net income for the fourth quarter of $10.5 million, compared with a net loss in the prior year fourth quarter of $10.9 million.

In fiscal 2012, the company opened 18 new outlet stores, remodeled 13 existing stores, and closed 31 locations, ending the year with 519 stores. ...more

Schulze returns to Best Buy as chairman emeritus


Best Buy’s co-founder and former chairman Richard Schulze is returning to the Best Buy fold as chairman emeritus.
The move comes after Schulze considered making a buyout bid for the electronics retailer but never made a formal offer. ...more

Kraft seeks expansion of Patriot Place


The owners of the New England Patriots want to expand Patriot Place.

On the heels of the negative publicity around bringing a casino to Foxborough, the owners of the New England Patriots want to expand the shopping plaza.
The Kraft Group has met informally with the Planning Board for a proposal that would build a 125- to 150-room hotel, a 14,500-square-foot retail store and a 4,500-square-foot “quick serve” restaurant at Patriot Place. ...more

Friday, March 22, 2013

Container Store Considering IPO


The line of retailers considering initial public offerings is getting longer, with The Wall Street Journal reporting that The Container Store is exploring the option, along with a potential sale to another investment firm. The big-box chain currently operates 59 locations. Private equity player Leonard Green & Partners holds a majority stake in the retailer.
WSJ has published a Q&A with The Container Store Founder Kip Tindell. Here are some of his thoughts on the advantages of an IPO: ...more

JC Penney Says Turnaround Could Take Longer

J.C. Penney said in an annual report filed that fixing its performance could take more time than initially expected, and it suggested that any change in strategy could be expensive.

The company also said Wednesday that bondholders who claimed that the department store chain was in violation of a bond agreement have withdrawn their notice of default, a move that eases some pressure on the struggling retailer.. . . more

Five years in, Fresh & Easy markets are a flop


British supermarket giant Tesco thought it had the Yanks all figured out.
Determined to crack the U.S. market, it dispatched executives to live with American families, peek into their refrigerators and trail them on trips to the grocery store. It boasted of revolutionizing how Americans shopped.
But slightly more than five years after it opened its first Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market in California, Tesco is considering selling the money-losing chain and leaving the United States altogether. ...more

Francesca’s Q3 net earnings up 78%; 80 stores on tap for fiscal 2013

Francesca's Holdings Corp. reported that net earnings in the fourth quarter rose 78% to $14.9 from $8.4 million in the same quarter last year. The company also said it plans to open 80 stores in fiscal year 2013.

Net sales in the quarter ended February 2, 2013, rose 40.6% to $86.7 million, compared with net sales of $61.7 million during the same period in fiscal 2011. Same-stores sales in the quarter increased 9.2%, driven by increased transactions and strong growth in its clothing and jewelry categories.. . . more

Rue21 bullish on expansion; to open 125 stores in 2013

Teen fashion retailer Rue21 opened its 900th store on March 21, in the Southern Hills Shopping Center of West Plains, Missouri. The company also reported that its fourth quarter income increased 16% on strong sales.

Rue21, which has opened more than 500 stores in the last five years, expects to open another 125 stores in 2013 and has opened 23 stores so far this year. It expects to open its 1,000th store in the fourth quarter. The retailer’s long term plan is to grow the chain to more than 1,700 stores in the United States. It currently operates some 900 stores in 47 states. . . . more

Remington's restaurant to close, comedy club ousted

Downtown restaurant Remington's of Boston isn't renewing its lease facing the Boylston Street side of Boston Common, Boston Restaurant Talk reports – meaning the comedy club that operates downstairs will have to move.

Dick Doherty's Beantown Comedy Club is looking for a new location. . . more

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Sears Says Lampert Will Remain as CEO, Earning $1 Salary


Edward Lampert, the billionaire hedge-fund manager who controls Sears Holdings Corp., agreed to remain the retailer’s chief executive officer with a $1 annual salary after taking over last month amid slumping sales.
Lampert’s new contract is effective Feb. 1, according to a regulatory filing yesterday. During the first three years of his tenure, he’ll participate in the company’s incentive plan with a target payout of $2 million a year. Lampert, 50, will also get $4.5 million a year in Sears stock. ...more

Supervalu Completes Sale of Chains to Cerberus

Supervalu here on Thursday said it has completed the sale of its Albertsons, Acme, Jewel-Osco, Shaw’s and Star Market stores to AB Acquisition LLC, an affiliate of a Cerberus Capital Management-led investor consortium for $3.3 billion.

The terms include $100 million in cash and the assumption of $3.2 billion in debt. As part of the transaction, Symphony Investors, an investor group led by Cerberus, also took a 21.2% stake in Supervalu through a tender offer and the purchase of new shares, making it Supervalu's largest shareholder.. . . more

Turning Stores into REITs is No Easy Feat, Analysts Warn

The idea that J.C. Penney could benefit from spinning its real estate holdings into a stand-alone REIT has gotten a lot of media attention this week, but REIT analysts say it’s a dead-end.

While this is certainly not the first time that someone has floated around the idea of turning stores into REITs—hedge fund investor Bill Ackman proposed the strategy to Target in 2008 and department store Dillard’s attempted a similar spin-off in 2011—there are fundamental challenges to spearheading a REIT IPO concurrently with erating an ongoing retail concern, according to Rich Moore, a REIT analyst with RBC Capital Markets.. . . more

Macy’s top gainer among top U.S. retail brands

Macy’s Inc. isn’t the best retail brand in the U.S., but it did record the biggest gain in brand value, according to the latest rankings from Interbrand.

Macy’s  increased its brand value by 62 percent and moved up nine spots on the list to No. 40 on Interband’s U.S. Most Valuable Retail Brands 2013. The Macy’s brand is valued at $1.26 billion.

The top-ranked brand remains Walmart, with a brand value of $141 billion. Target is No. 2 at $25.1 billion and The Home Depot is No. 3 with $22.9 billion in brand value.. . . more

Starbucks to expand loyalty program to Teavana and supermarkets

Starbucks Coffee Co. is expanding its customer loyalty program to the supermarket channel and its Teavana stores as it looks to double membership from 4.5 million members at the end of October 2012 to approximately nine million members by the end of fiscal 2013.

Speaking at the meeting, Adam Brotman, chief digital officer, said that, starting in May, customers will be able to accrue reward points for purchases of Starbucks packaged coffee in grocery channels, with the points redeemable in Starbucks stores. The program is expected to be expanded to include other Starbucks products sold through grocery channels this fall. . . . more

Consumer spending remains steady in February

The Deloitte Consumer Spending Index remained steady in February primarily as a decline in initial unemployment claims and a rise in real average hourly earnings offset negative forces.

"The economic fundamentals that influence consumer spending are aligning," said Patricia Buckley, director economic policy and analysis, Deloitte LLP, and author of the monthly Index. "Financial institutions and the markets are stronger, and consumer confidence and real spending appear to be weathering the 2013 payroll tax increases fairly well.  Absent the uncertainty surrounding the impact of the sequester, an economic turnaround would likely be imminent.". . . more

City Sports opening 11,000-sq.-ft. store in Manhattan

City Sports announced that it will open its 22nd retail location in New York City, on March 26. It will be City Sports' third location in New York City.

The new store, in the city’s financial district, will be the company’s largest retail location to date, with nearly 11,000 sq. ft. of selling space devoted to athletic apparel, footwear and equipment.. . . more

Mass. unemployment rate for February drops to 6.5 percent


The Massachusetts unemployment rate dropped to 6.5 percent in February, down from 6.7 percent in January, as the local economy created 500 jobs last month, the state’s Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development reported Thursday.

The current national unemployment rate is 7.7 percent. Through January, the Massachusetts unemployment rate had held steady at 6.7 percent for four straight months.

Earlier this month, the office initially reported that the Bay State economy had created an estimated 16,100 jobs during January. In Thursday’s press release, the office revised that number upward to 18,900 jobs. ...more

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Are You Buying What Best Buy Is Selling?

It was named “Specialty Retailer of the Decade” by Discount Store News in 2001, Company of the Year by Forbes in 2004, and as recently as 2006 was placed on the List of Most Admired Companies by Fortune. Now be honest: had the title of this article been a little more obscure, would you have guessed that Best Buy was the recipient of these honors?

Just a few years later, on March 8, 2009, following a bankruptcy filing and subsequent inability to find a buyer, Best Buy’s number one rival Circuit City closed all its stores, freeing up over $11 billion in appliance and electronics business. While some retailers were experiencing double digit sales declines between 2008 and 2010, Best Buy total revenue gained a dramatic 23.4%. Benefitting from the Circuit City liquidation, as well as its own acquisition of a 50% interest in Best Buy Europe, sales leaped from $39.9 billion to $49.7 billion. At that point it was believed by some that Best Buy had a monopoly on the electronics market. Euphoria, right?  But then Best Buy began to show definite cracks. What happened?. . . more

Williams-Sonoma Q4 earnings up 15%

Williams-Sonoma reported that fourth-quarter earnings per share grew 15% to $1.34 and that quarterly revenue grew to $1.406 billion versus $1.268 billion in 2011, with comparable brand revenue growth of 4%.

Fiscal 2012 earnings per share grew 14% to $2.54. Net revenues for the year grew to $4.043 billion versus $3.721 billion in fiscal year ended January 29, 2012 with comparable brand revenue growth of 6.1%.. . . more

Stoughton IKEA planning expansion

IKEA is planning an expansion at its Stoughton location.

The popular furniture chain, which opened its Stoughton store to much fanfare in 2005, wants to build a 60,000-square-foot warehouse.

There will be a hearing at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Town Hall at a joint meeting of the Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals. IKEA seeks a special permit for earth removal and a sign variance.. . . more

Wal-Mart outlines its e-commerce priorities

International expansion, a new technology platform and an improved fulfillment network are top e-commerce priorities for Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the retailer outlined at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2013 Consumer & Retailer Conference.

Wal-Mart, No. 4 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 guide, expects to generate $9 billion in global e-commerce revenue in its current fiscal year, ending Jan. 31, 2014. In February, Wal-Mart’s Neil Ashe, president and CEO of global e-commerce, said e-commerce revenue growth was “accelerating and ahead of our plans.”. . . more

Supermarkets Losing Share In Fresh-Food Sales

Produce-A2Between ever-bigger discount stores, rapidly expanding warehouse clubs and proliferating convenience stores, American supermarkets are used to fighting for every customer. But a new report from Nielsen Perishables Group shows that grocery chains are now even losing their edge in fresh foods, including produce, meats, deli and bakery. By 2016, the report predicts that grocery’s share of those foods will fall 2 percentage points to 64%.Warehouse clubs' share will rise 2 points to 12%, and mass/supercenters will see a 1-point rise to 15%.

In the U.S., sales of these fresh foods typically generate 29% of total store sales, with meat accounting for 29% of those sales, produce 32%, deli 16%, bakery, 7%, and seafood 5%.. . . more

Shake Shack to debut at Chestnut Hill

Boston’s first Shake Shack, best known for its burgers and milk shakes, will open in Chestnut Hill, Mass. on Wednesday.

The newest addition to the Shake Shack family is located on Route 9 at the Street Chestnut Hill where it will compete with other, more upscale eating establishments, including Davio’s Cucina, Bernard’s, Aquitaine and Legal Sea Foods.. . . more

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Sam's Club, Amazon tops in retail customer experience


Research results released Tuesday by consulting firm Temkin Group revealed, among retailers, Sam’s Club and Amazon earned top marks.
According to the 2013 Temkin Experience Rankings which queried 10,000 U.S. consumers about customer service issues across 246 companies in 19 industries, Sam's Club and Amazon earned the top spots in the retail sector and RadioShack was the lowest rated retailer for the third consecutive year. ...more

Walgreens profit rises in Q2; unveils blockbuster partnership


Walgreens reported a better-than-expected profit on flat sales for its second quarter Tuesday morning and unveiled an expanded partnership with AmerisourceBergen that could give the pharmacy operator an equity position and seat on the drug wholesaler’s board.
Sales during the company’s second quarter ended Feb. 28, were flat at nearly $18.7 billion with samestore prescription sales down 2.7% and same-store front end sales down 2.6%. The prior-year comparison period included an extra day in February 2012. ...more

Convenience has the upper hand over price in mobile retail


As retailers continue to up their investments in mobile, they need to be prepared for consumers who increasingly expect to do more than price check via their smartphones and tablets.

Although the threat of showrooming is causing some retailers to significantly alter their pricing strategies, convenience is also a big factor in why consumers shop from their handsets. Nowadays, retailers are challenged to target two different types of mobile shoppers that each have different behaviors. ...more

US housing starts rise, permits at 4 ½-year high


U.S. builders started more houses and apartments in February and obtained permits for future construction at the fastest pace in 4 ½ years. The increases point to a housing recovery that is gaining strength.

The Commerce Department said Tuesday that builders broke ground on homes last month at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 917,000. That’s up from 910,000 in January. And it’s the second-fastest pace since June 2008, behind December’s rate of 982,000. ...more

Tim Hortons looks to the U.S. for new growth


As it closes in on 4,000 restaurants across Canada, Tim Hortons is looking to the U.S. to support new growth for the chain, CEO Paul House told a meeting of Wall Street analysts and retailers in New York City on Wednesday.
“We have gained a solid foothold in the U.S. market, which promises to be the next wave of growth for our company,” House said in his address, delivered at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Consumer and Retail Conference. ..more

Penney shares up as analyst floats sublet scheme


At least JCPenney still has one thing it can sell at a profit — some of its stores.

Shares of the embattled retailer popped 6.2 percent yesterday after a Wall Street analyst said CEO Ron Johnson’s best hope for propping up its sickly shares was not by sticking to his retailer strategy — but by subletting space at its best mall locations to other retail chains. ...more