Friday, May 31, 2013

Costco Plans 150 New Stores in 5 Years

Costco Wholesale Corp. here said Thursday it expects to open approximately 150 new warehouses over the next five years, including the 28 it projects opening this year.

Of the total, about 55 would be in the U.S., with the rest in Canada or overseas, Richard Galanti, executive vice president and chief financial officer, told investors during a conference call. In addition, he said half the warehouses would be in-fill locations and half in new markets.. . . more

Neiman Marcus rejects proposal to merge with Saks

Neiman Marcus Group Inc. rejected a recent proposal that would have merged it with Saks Inc. in a much-ballyhooed marriage of two of the nation's top luxury retailers.

The Wall Street Journal, citing sources familiar with the situation, reported that Dallas-based Neiman Marcus said no to the proposal under which the buyout firm KKR would have invested in Saks and then merged it with Neiman.. . . more

U.S. Consumer Spending Down For First Time In Almost A Year

Consumer spending fell in April for the first time in almost a year and inflation pressures were subdued, pointing to a slowdown in economic activity that should see the Federal Reserve maintaining its monetary stimulus for a while.

The Commerce Department said on Friday consumer spending fell 0.2 percent, the weakest reading since May last year, after edging up 0.1 percent in March. Economists had expected a 0.1 percent gain.. . . more

Giants and Jets go to court to stop American Dream project

american_dream_court.jpgThe Giants and Jets headed back to court today in an effort to block the proposed expansion of American Dream, the sprawling $3.7 billion retail and entertainment complex in the Meadowlands.

Two weeks after the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority approved the addition of a huge theme park and indoor water park to the site, the two National Football League teams that play their home games in nearby MetLife Stadium requested a restraining order to stop the project in its tracks.. . . more

jcpenney Teams Up with INROADS to Promote Leadership Diversity

jcpenney announced today that it is joining forces with INROADS, the nation's largest non-profit source of undergraduate internships for diverse youth, to bolster its emerging talent leadership program. Through the partnership, INROADS interns will be immersed over two 10-week phases in all aspects of leading a jcpenney store, with the potential of being hired after graduation.. . . more

California firm closes on Whitney Field Mall in Leominster

A spokeswoman for Vintage Real Estate of California said the investment firm has officially closed on the troubled Whitney Field Mall in Leominster.

An official deed transfer had not been recorded by the Massachusetts Secretary of State's office as of Thursday afternoon. Vintage declined to specify on a deal price.. . . more
Smith Legacy Partners plans to build a 180,000-square-foot, mixed-use project on Trapelo Road in Belmont’s Cushing Square.

After 18 months of debate, a developer has received initial approval for a downsized version of a mixed-use development in Belmont’s Cushing Square.

Smith Legacy Partners’ plan would replace a parking lot, a Starbucks and several retail stores on an 86,000-square-foot lot at Common Street between Trapelo Road and Belmont Street. Dubbed “Cushing Village,” the $50 million project will include up to 116 apartments and 37,500 square feet of ground-floor retail in three buildings.. . . more

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Delhaize better positioned in US following disposal

Belgium retailer Delhaize is grappling with a number of challenges in the US, a market that generates around 65% of group revenues.

During 2012, the company stepped up its investment levels in the US market in a bid to create a tourniquet to stem haemorrhaging sales and market share trends. Price cuts were implemented across Delhaize's network of stores and the group revamped 500 outlets to try attract shoppers with an improved shopping experience.. . . more

Dads catching up to moms, with Father's Day sales set to surge

Father's Day spending expected to rise in 2013Mom still gets lavished with more expensive gifts, but this year, Dad is catching up on affection with expected Father’s Day spending rising 2.1%.

Sales for the holiday on June 16 will reach $13.2 billion from $12.9 billion in 2012, as the improving economy puts more discretionary income in consumers’ pockets, according to research firm IBISWorld.. . . more

Costco’s Profit Advances 19% as Membership Fees Boost Revenue

Costco Wholesale Corp., the largest U.S. warehouse-club chain, said third-quarter profit rose 19 percent, beating analysts’ estimates, as revenue from membership fees increased.

Costco has worked to lower its already-discounted prices to lure more shoppers to its annual memberships. Third-quarter sales at stores open for more than a year increased 7 percent, excluding changes in gas prices and foreign-currency exchange rates. Revenue by similar measures fell 1.4 percent at Wal-Mart Stores Inc. in the U.S. and 0.6 percent at Target Corp. in their most recent quarters. . . . more

Foot Locker most tweeted about sporting goods/outdoor retailer

Foot Locker was the most tweeted about brand with over 50,000 posts, according to GenSent Insights’ 2013 report on Sporting Goods and Outdoor Retailers. This was more than twice the number of tweets the next closest competitors, Dicks Sporting Goods and REI (generated with just under 20,000 posts each.  

Foot Locker’s digital and social media strategy includes creating such properties as Sneakerpedia (a hub for sneaker enthusiasts) Kickstagram, (a photo sharing blog) and Foot Locker Unlocked (blogs, games and more).. . . more

Chico’s disappoints as Q1 profit slips 4.7%

Chico's reported a lower-than-expected profit of $51.1 million for the first quarter, excluding non-recurring acquisition and integration costs related to its Boston Proper acquisition, versus a profit of $54 million in year-ago period.

Sales rose 3% to $670.7 million, up 3% from $650.8 million last year. Chico’s, which operates its namesake stores, as well as the Soma Intimates and White House | Black Market chains, attributed much of this boost to the opening of 114 net new stores in the past year.. . . more

Staples to open flagship store near Boston City Hall

First, Walgreens made a splash in Downtown Crossing. Now Staples is set to open a flagship store this fall near Boston’s City Hall.

The Framingham-based office supply company has signed a lease for 17,500 square feet at One Washington Mall in the former Newbury Comics space, as well as a portion of the second floor.. . . more

Students full of ideas for vacant Boston storefronts

The city will tap college students’ problem-solving abilities to address the challenge of matching the right businesses with Boston storefront vacancies and neighborhood needs.

The one-day College Think Tank will assemble 100-plus students to brainstorm with city representatives and others at MassChallenge’s Innovation District headquarters June 15.. . . more

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Fresh Market profit up 15%, raises sales outlook

Fresh Market Inc.'s  fiscal first-quarter earnings rose 15% as the specialty grocer's same-store sales and margins improved.

Fresh Market has said it intends to open between 19 and 22 new stores in fiscal 2013 with most of the openings planned for the second half of the year. As of May 29, it operated 131 stores in 25 states. . . . more

Books-A-Million puts first quarter loss on the books

Books-A-Million Inc. posted a net loss of $3.7 million for the first quarter ended May 4, the company announced Tuesday.

The Birmingham-based book retailer had a $1.9 million loss in the same period last year, but a net income of $8.1 million in the fourth quarter of 2012. Books-A-Million's net sales decreased by 7.4 percent in the first quarter to $104.5 million, compared to $112.8 million year-over-year.. . . more

Target expanding beauty-concierge program

Target has launched a beauty concierge program at 96 existing stores in Los Angeles and Orange County area.

Participating stores will be staffed with a Target beauty concierge, a brand agnostic beauty enthusiast who will offer customers personalized service. The brand concierge will be charged with answering any questions customers may have and offer unbiased information about personal care products offered at Target. They will be stationed in the beauty aisle at Target wearing a distinct black apron.. . . more

Jacksonville-based Bi-Lo to buy 165 new stores

Bi-Lo Holdings LLC, the parent company of Jacksonville-based Bi-Lo and Winn-Dixie grocery stores, will buy an additional 165 stores.

Bi-Lo is paying $265 million in cash to purchase owns all the Sweetbay, Harveys and Reid’s stores throughout the Southeastern United States from the Delhaize Group. . . more

Vacancy rate for region’s shopping centers expected to remain low

The Washington metropolitan area has the lowest shopping center vacancy rate among large markets. Overall vacancy for all types of shopping centers was 4.9 percent in the region at the end of the first three months of 2013, down from 5.8 percent one year earlier. This compares favorably to the national rate of 8.9 percent at March 2013.

The communities within the region’s core, including the District, Arlington and Alexandria, held a 3.8 percent vacancy rate for all types of shopping centers at the end of the first quarter.. . . more

Women seek value, connection

Female consumers are looking for value and deeper connections, according to results of the fifth annual “What Women Want” survey. The study, conducted by Ginger Consulting, indicates that women are responsible for or influence $7 trillion of annual purchases in the U.S., including 85% of all consumer and business purchases and 60% of automobile purchases.

Specifically, the survey shows that 36% of women hunt for value in every purchase they make and use social media for personal reasons, but not for checking in at stores or restaurants (71% do not like to use social media this way). . . . more

Consumer confidence in U.S. hits five-year high

National consumer confidence this month reached its highest levels since the early days of the Great Recession, but the U.S. economy isn’t out of the woods, experts warned yesterday.

Consumer confidence reached a five-year high of 76.2 percent in the first half of the month — up from 69 percent in April — driven by a more upbeat outlook about jobs and business conditions, according to the Conference Board, a nonprofit research firm.. . . more

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Apax Partners to take rue21 private in $1.1 billion deal

Private equity firm Apax Partners LLP has agreed to acquire rue21 Inc for about $1.1 billion, attracted by the teen-apparel retailer's growth and cash flow and keen to add to a retail portfolio that includes Cole Haan and Takko Fashion.

Private equity firm Apax Partners LLP has agreed to acquire rue21 Inc for about $1.1 billion, attracted by the teen-apparel retailer's growth and cash flow and keen to add to a retail portfolio that includes Cole Haan and Takko Fashion. . . . more

Abercrombie's decline in sales pummels its stock price

In a dour end to Abercrombie & Fitch Co.'s difficult week, the teen retailer watched its stock slide by the largest margin in months after it reported a double-digit sales decline.

The company's same-store sales in the U.S. plunged 17% in the first quarter, while its revenue sank 8.9% to $838.8 million.. . . more

Ten Brands That Will Disappear in 2014

Each year, 24/7 Wall St. identifies 10 important brands sold in America that we predict will disappear before 2014. This year’s list reflects the brutally competitive nature of certain industries and the importance of not falling behind in efficiency, innovation,
or financing.

JC Penney is at the top of the list. . . . more

Dollar Tree has record Q1 sales

Dollar Tree reported record net sales for first quarter 2013, with consolidated net sales of $1.87 billion, an 8% increase from $1.72 billion during the same quarter of the prior year. Net income totaled $133.5 million, and same store sales grew 2.1%, on top of a 5.6% increase recorded during first quarter 2012. Dollar Tree estimates full fiscal year net sales will range from $7.81 billion to $7.97 billion.. . . more

Delhaize looks to sell off Sweetbay and Harveys units

A Reuters report citing unnamed sources said that Belgian grocer Delhaize is looking to sell its U.S.-based Sweetbay and Harveys units as the Hannaford parent looks to ramp up cost-cutting efforts here.

The sources told Reuters that Delhaize has retained Lazard Ltd. to sell off the two supermarket businesses. CEO Pierre-Olivier Beckers said the company was looking at options for the units, but didn’t comment directly on whether advisors had been appointed to conduct the sale.. . .more

Consumer confidence rises on economic optimism

A report last week by Bloomberg said that U.S. consumer confidence for the week ended May 19 advanced, indicating that Americans’ outlook on the economy is optimistic.

The weekly Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index increased to minus 29.4 from minus 30.2 the prior week. A measure of personal finances was positive for a sixth consecutive week, the longest stretch in more than five years, according to Bloomberg.. . . more

Debt and executive criminal record should sink Foxwoods' Milford casino plan

Foxwoods Resort Casino suffered a double-digit drop in revenue over the year ended in April. That and executives' criminal backgrounds ought to be enough to scuttle the operator's plan for a Milford, Massachusetts casino, a local official argues. Foxwoods Resort Casino’s crippling debt and the criminal history of several executives should be more than enough reason for the state to throw out the company’s bid to build another casino in Milford, Hopkinton Selectman Ben Palleiko wrote in a letter to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission this week.
The letter is the most recent swing at a proposal to put a casino in Hopkinton’s backyard, a project the town has fought since its inception.. . . more

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Investment Capital Remains Plentiful, Core Assets Still Hard to Find

The investment sales market for retail properties appears to be in roughly the same place as it was a year ago—with eager investors hoping to buy core assets, but settling for secondary markets and value-add opportunities.

There is no question that both private and institutional investors want to buy real estate today, according to RECon 2013 attendees. The combination of low interest rates, limited new supply of new product and improving sales comps make stabilized retail assets a fool-proof play. But asset availability is limited and competition is fierce.. . . more

Amazon Tops Walmart in Ranking of Most Valuable Brands

Among the biggest stories in this year's BrandZ ranking of the world's top 100 valuable brands is the rise of the apparel and retail categories, which posted approximately 20% brand value growth over last year.

One highlight from this year's retail story includes Amazon's gain over Walmart. Amazon, with a brand value of $45.7 billion, saw its value grow by 34%, while Walmart grew by 5% to $36.2 billion.. . . more

Diverse retailers compete for food dollars

As millennials come of age and baby boomers ease into retirement, there's a shift in how America shops for food. The results are helping shoppers save money on their groceries and changing the retail-food landscape.

Consumers shop 2.2 times a week on average for food and those stops can be at traditional supermarkets as well as farmers- and flea markets, and drug- and dollar stores, according to SympthonyIRI, a market research company.. . . more

Saks Said to Hire Goldman Sachs to Explore Options

Saks Inc. hired Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to explore strategic alternatives, including a sale of the company, said two people with knowledge of the matter.

The New York-based retailer may consider selling itself to a private-equity firm in a leveraged buyout, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the process is private. . . . more

Saks Q1 sales increase, net income drops

Saks Incorporated reported a roughly 5% increase in total sales between first quarter 2012 and first quarter 2013, although net income dropped during that same time period. Total sales for the first quarter of this year were $793.2 million, up from $753.6 million in the first quarter of last year. However, net income of $20 million for first quarter 2013 was down close to 40% from $32.7 million for first quarter 2012. Same store sales increased 5.9%. . . .more

Forecast sees New England economy growing modestly

Modest economic growth is expected in New England over the next three years with the region as a whole returning to pre-recession employment levels by 2015.

That's according to a new economic forecast being released this week by the New England Economic Partnership.

Forecast manager Ross Gittell, chancellor of New Hampshire's community college system, predicts that economic growth in the six-state region will average 3.3 percent per year through 2016, while employment climbs by 1.4 percent per year.. . . more

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Union Fish Seafood & Raw Bar opens in Hingham

Union Fish Seafood & Raw Bar has opened at the Launch at Hingham Shipyard. 

Dramshop Hospitality, a Boston restaurant management group, has launched their newest seafood concept, Union Fish Seafood & Raw Bar at the Launch at Hingham Shipyard.

The Boston-based restaurant management group owns and operates the original Union Fish on the Plymouth waterfront, the Regal Beagle in Brookline and Church Restaurant & Nightclub in Boston’s Fenway neighborhood.. . . more

Best Buy reports 1Q loss on restructuring costs

Best Buy Co. on Tuesday reported a loss in its fiscal first quarter as it sold its stake in Best Buy Europe and works on a turnaround plan that includes cutting costs and closing some stores.

Read more here:

The company has been working on a turnaround plan as it faces increased competition from online retailers and discount stores. The plan includes closing stores, cutting costs and investing in training for its employees. In April it also said it would sell its 50 percent stake in its European joint venture to streamline its business and strengthen its balance sheet. . . .more

Read more here: . . more

Store Opening Plans are at Five-Year High

The retailers in RBC Capital Markets’ database reported plans for 41,713 new store openings in the next 12 months, representing a five-year high in store opening plans.

As in previous months, consignment store Children’s Orchard and restaurant chain Five Guys Famous Burgers and Fries were among the retail concepts planning to expand the most compared to their existing store bases. Children’s Orchard, which operates 100 stores today, plans to double its fleet in the next 12 months. Five Guys, which has 750 existing locations, plans on opening 600 new ones in the coming year.. . . more

Restaurants, Luxury Tenants are Once Again in Expansion Mode

The retail real estate market is finally reaching a state of equilibrium, with several groups of tenants working on aggressive expansion campaigns, according to leasing executives attending the RECon convention in Las Vegas this week. Leasing activity has gotten strong enough that there is now talk of new developments under works for 2014/2015. The caveat is that those trends are much more pronounced in top-tier, urban markets, including Seattle, Dallas and Miami, than they are in smaller areas.

Restaurants, retailers that focus on aspirational luxury items and apparel sellers have been among the most active dealmakers. . . more

Retail Development Back on the Horizon

Looking for proof that the retail real estate industry is in a better place than it was even a year ago? New development is no longer a distant pipe dream, but a tangible possibility as industry players begin conceiving new projects.

Some companies, primarily publicly-traded retail REITs, might already be close to putting shovels in the ground as they sign up expanding retailers to go into their new centers.. . . more

Smashburger plans expansion, possible IPO

Fast food hamburger chain Smashburger plans to more than double its nationwide store count to about 500 in the next few years. The chain currently runs about 200 locations across the U.S.. . . more

Retailer LL Bean Keeping It in the Family

L.L. Bean's grandson Leon Gorman is retiring as chairman of the outdoors retailer after more than a half-century as the company's chairman or CEO, but the privately held firm is keeping the position in the family.

The Maine-based outdoors retailer informed its 5,000 full- and part-time workers Monday that Bean's great-grandson Shawn Gorman is the latest family member to serve as chairman, underscoring a commitment to family ownership in an era in which most large retailers are publicly traded.. . . more

Home Depot Profit Tops Estimates as Housing Market Gains

Home Depot Inc., the largest U.S. home-improvement retailer, posted first-quarter profit that topped analysts’ estimates and raised its forecast for earnings this year as the housing rebound boosts renovation spending.

Home Depot is benefiting from rising U.S. home prices that are giving homeowners the confidence to start projects and spend more. Revenue rose 7.4 percent to $19.1 billion, topping analysts’ $18.6 billion estimate, as the average customer purchase increased 5 percent to $57.24. . . . more

Monday, May 20, 2013

Gas prices lower, but not leading to more spending

gas price rise fallGas prices are slightly lower this year, but that's not leading to a large pick-up in consumer spending, according to a survey by

About 80% of the 1,000 people Bankrate surveyed said they have not increased their discretionary spending in response to falling gas prices this year.. . . more

Frugality out: Restaurant sales at all-time highs

Americans seem to be fed up with frugality.

As the recession ever so slowly recedes, an increasing number of Americans say they are less frugal than they were a few years ago. At the same time, sales at restaurants are at an all-time high and at least one survey says consumers expect to spend more eating out as soon as their pocketbooks allow.. . . more

Seattle’s Best Coffee to open 10 Dallas-Fort Worth locations Monday

Last fall, Starbucks executives embarked on a new strategy. The company opened a prototype Seattle’s Best location in Seattle that was a small drive-through that could be quickly replicated at a lower price than the cost of building an 1,800-square-foot Starbucks.

The Seattle-based coffee giant is opening 10 locations of its Seattle’s Best Coffee chain in the Dallas area on Monday — the largest number of openings in a single market on a single day in Starbucks’ history.. . . more

Private-label products are increasingly important in the grocery industry

These days, virtually any grocery retailer has its own store brands.

Martin’s has them. Kroger has them. Food Lion, Whole Foods, Walmart, and Costco have them.

Store brands account for about 80 percent of Trader Joe’s merchandise. Even a small operation like Ellwood Thompson’s Local Market has store brands.. . . more

Nordstrom Q1 profit and sales disappoint

Nordstrom Inc. reported its first quarter net income fell a greater-than-expected 3%, hurt by weak demand for spring merchandise and softer performance in the Northeast and Midwest. The company also lowered its full-year sales forecast.

Nordstrom Inc. reported its first quarter net income fell a greater-than-expected 3%, hurt by weak demand for spring merchandise and softer performance in the Northeast and Midwest. The company also lowered its full-year sales forecast. . . . more

A tale of two malls: Whitney Field sale imminent, Silver City's luster fades

The Silver City Mall in Taunton has been on the block, with little serious interest from bidders.Local real estate sources have confirmed that two struggling Massachusetts malls — the Mall at Whitney Field in Leominster and the Silver City Mall in Taunton — are on the cusp of resolving their deep financial issues, albeit with completely different outcomes.

This month a California-based investment firm, Vintage Real Estate of Los Angeles, inked a deal to acquire the 664,000-square-foot Whitney Field Mall at a price ranging between $30 million and $40 million.. . . more

Finard tapped for retail development at Mohegan Sun's casino project in Palmer

A rendering of the Mohegan Sun proposal for a site off the Mass. Pike in Palmer.Mohegan Sun today announced a partnership with Boston-based Finard Properties, a commercial real estate investment company, for retail development at its proposed resort casino off Route 32 in Palmer.

Finard Properties has developed and managed retail properties ranging from urban retail projects to lifestyle centers and large-scale enclosed regional shopping malls. Mohegan Sun Massachusetts will include a 300,000-square-foot Finard Properties retail development, in addition to casino gaming, a hotel, premier dining and other amenities. . . . more

Friday, May 17, 2013

Sheraton developer: Retailer lined up for 40,000-square-foot space

Top PhotoThe developer of the Sheraton Portsmouth Harborside Hotel parking lot property on Deer Street said Thursday that there is already a tenant lined up for the 40,000 square feet of retail space in a new mixed-use project proposed for downtown.

"We do have a user for that space, but we're not at the point where we can talk about that just yet," said Chris Thompson, principal of HarborCorp LLC.. . . more

Casino bidders can get second chance in southeastern Mass.

Developers who are unsuccessful in their pursuit of casinos in the eastern or western regions of Massachusetts could compete in the newly opened southeastern region under a plan approved Thursday by the state’s gaming commission.

The decision follows the panel’s recent vote to open up southeastern Massachusetts – known as Region C in the state’s 2011 casino law – to commercial casino bidders. The Mashpee Wampanaog tribe had previously enjoyed exclusivity in Region C while it pursued state and federal approvals for a proposed tribal casino in Taunton.. . . more

Global luxury goods sales slowing

Global sales of luxury goods are off to a slow start in 2013 and aren't expected to match the double-digit growth of the last three years, consultancy Bain & Co. said in a study released Thursday.

Sales of luxury apparel, accessories, jewelry, cosmetics and art are expected to grow just 4% to 5% in 2013, to between $283 billion to $286 billion, according to Bain's study, which was commissioned by Italy's luxury producers' trade association, Altagamma. They increased 10% in 2012, to $272 billion.. . . more

J.C. Penney’s New Plan Is to Reuse Its Old Plans

J. C. Penney already brought back its old chief executive. Now it is restoring his old strategies.

From increasing promotions to bringing back house brands like St. John’s Bay, Myron E. Ullman III, the new C.E.O., is erasing most of the changes made by Ronald B. Johnson, the former Apple retail head who started with much fanfare in 2011. After significant changes and several disastrous quarters, Mr. Johnson was fired this spring and Mr. Ullman, who had been his predecessor, resumed command about five weeks ago. . . . more