Friday, February 28, 2014

Dots to close all stores; Gordon Bros. handling liquidation

After over 25 years in business, Dots, an Ohio-based women’s fashion discount retailer, is closing its doors.  Store-closing sales will begin on Friday, March 1, with discounts on all merchandise, as well as store furniture, fixtures and equipment. Dots filed for Chapter 11 protection on January 20, 2014.. . . more

Sprouts Farmers Market posts strong year; to open 22 to 24 stores

Same-store sales and strong performance at new stores helped drive impressive net come and revenue growth at Sprouts Farmers Markets Inc. during the fourth quarter and fiscal year 2014. On a year-over-year basis, net earnings more than doubled to $9.3 million from $5.9 million in the quarter and almost tripled to $51.3 million from $19.5 million.. . . more

Sherman Plaza in Saugus back on the auction block

More than a month after a foreclosure auction was canceled for Sherman Plaza, the 75,000-square-foot strip mall on Route 1 in Saugus, Mass., the sale is back on, according to a legal notice.. . . more

Gap Q4 profit falls 12.5% but tops Street; expanding Athleta banner

Gap Inc. on Thursday reported a 12.5% decline in fourth-quarter profit, with its results impacted by heavy discounting during the holidays. The retailer also issued a profit outlook for the full year that is below analysts' expectations, and said it will open 30 additional U.S. stores during fiscal year 2014.. . . more

Kohl’s Q4 profit disappoints

Kohl’s Corp.’s reported disappointing fourth-quarter results amid markdowns during the holiday period and increased shipping costs for its e-commerce business.
The chain posted a profit of $334 million for the quarter ended Feb. 1, down from $378 million a year earlier. Total sales dropped 3.8% to about $6.1 billion from $6.34 billion. Same-store sales were down 2%. Kohl’s cited the impact of the 53rd week in fiscal 2012 as a driver of its declines.. . . more

Sears’ Lampert predicts retail ‘headed to where we already are’

Sears Holdings’ CEO Eddie Lampert strongly defended his company in his annual letter to shareholders, saying not only does he believe Sears is headed in the right direction, but that “the entire retail industry is headed to where we already are.”
The letter was released on Thursday, Feb. 27, the same day that the retailer released its fourth quarter and fiscal year results (link to am story). Sears lost $1.36 billion last year as sales continued to fall and it closed stores as part of its plan to transform itself  into a “member-centric” retailer.. . . more

Bi-Lo closing 13 stores as it takes on Delhaize assets

Bi-Lo Holdings, which on Tuesday received FTC clearance to acquire all but 12 of the Sweetbay, Harvey’s and Reid’s stores from Delhaize America, later said that 13 stores would close in connection with the transaction.
The stores set for closure are in close proximity to existing units either owned by Bi-Lo or to be acquired from Delhaize. . . more

Domino’s Pizza sees record unit growth

Of the many positive results Domino’s Pizza Inc. reported for its Dec. 29-ended fourth quarter and fiscal year 2013, the unit count growth at home and abroad signified the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based company’s best performance in years. . . more

Penn National wins state's sole slots parlor license for its Plainville project

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission awarded the state's lone slots parlor license to Penn National Gaming for its proposed project at the Plainridge Racecourse horse track in Plainville today.
The commission debated for much of the day about whether to award the license to the Plainville project or to Cordish Companies' proposed slots parlor in Leominster.. . . more

Thursday, February 27, 2014

TJX: ‘2013 was another successful year’

TJX Cos., the Framingham-based off-price retailer that operates such chains as T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, and HomeGoods, said Wednesday that fourth-quarter net sales rose 1 percent to $7.8 billion while net income was $582 million. . . more

J.C. Penney swings to Q4 profit on tax benefit, but revenue falls

In a sign of some progress in its turnaround efforts, J.C. Penney Co. reported a net profit of $35 million for the fourth quarter ended Feb. 1, 2014, compared to a loss of $552 million a year ago. Excluding a tax benefit and other items, Penney had a loss of $206 million for the quarter.. . . more

Lowe’s Q4 profit up 6%; 20 new stores planned

Customer interest in core home improvement categories helped lift profits at Lowe’s Companies Inc. during the fourth quarter and fiscal year 2013.
Lowe’s fourth quarter earnings rose 6% to $306 million from $282 million in the year-ago period. Full year net earnings climbed 17% to $2.29 billion from $1.96 billion. . . more

Barnes & Noble swings to Q3 profit, plans new Nook

Barnes & Noble swung from a net loss in the third quarter of fiscal 2013 to a net profit in the third quarter of fiscal 2014, even as revenues dropped.
Net earnings in the third quarter totaled $63.2 million, compared to a $3.7 million net loss in the same period a year earlier. Total revenues dropped 10.3% to $1.99 billion from $2.22 billion. A 50% revenue drop in the company’s Nook segment helped drive the overall decline, although all the company’s retail and college verticals also reported revenue drops.. . . more

City may landmark markets

The historical significance of Faneuil Hall Marketplace’s North Market and South Market buildings could impact redevelopment plans for the center.
The Boston Landmarks Commission has listed both buildings, which flank the domed Quincy Market, as priorities for reports on whether they’re worthy of historic landmark status. . . more

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Data-breach costs take toll on Target profit

Target Corp. will be feeling the financial pain for a while from the theft of credit card numbers and other information from millions of its customers.
The retailer said Wednesday that its fourth-quarter profit slumped 46 percent. It also reported that revenue slipped 5.3 percent as the breach scared off customers.
During the holiday shopping season, personal data from millions of Target customers was stolen by hackers who targeted credit card terminals in its stores. The incident has scared shoppers away, and the company says its profits will be affected well into 2014.. . . more

Macy’s Q4 profit up 11% but sales miss; opening four new stores

Macy's Inc.'s fourth-quarter profit increased 11%, but the chain’s sales missed forecasts as ongoing winter storms caused a sales slump in January. The company also announced plans for new Macy’s stores in Sarasota, Fla.; Las Vegas; and The Bronx, N.Y., in fiscal 2014. A new Bloomingdale’s will open in Palo Alto, Calif., to replace an older store in the same shopping center.. . . more

Tim Hortons to open 300 U.S. stores by 2018

Tim Hortons is unveiling a strategic four-year growth plan for 2014-2018 called “Winning in the New Era.” The plan, which has specific segments for the Canada, U.S., and international markets, includes the opening of 300 new U.S. locations by 2018.. . . more

Ashley Furniture opens 500th store; 50 more due in 2014

Ashley Furniture HomeStore, the largest furniture retailer in the U.S., celebrated the opening of its 500th store in Longview, Texas, on Feb. 21. It is the chain’s 48th store in the Lone Star state.
The company, whose sales exceeded $3 billion in 2013, has 50 additional HomeStore openings on tap in 2014.. . . more

Ones To Watch: Little Greek Restaurant

When the paths of an Estonian immigrant, a small Greek restaurant, and a successful restaurateur looking for the next big idea in fast-casual dining crossed, the result was an upstart brand, Little Greek Restaurant, that now has plans to expand across the U.S. . . more

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Grossman eyes development for 14-acre Spag's site in Shrewsbury

More than a decade after Spag’s closed on Shrewsbury’s Route 9, the store's 14-acre property could be the new home for retail, housing and office space.
Grossman Development Group, a Southborough-based builder, has met with Shrewsbury officials to discuss rezoning of the commercial district and razing the Spag’s property to create a new mixed-use project.. . . more

More changes coming to Boston's South Station

It’s getting a lot more crowded at Boston’s South Station.
KaBloom, the Brookline-based flower company, is the latest retailer to blossom at one of the busiest transit hubs in New England.
The company has set up a kiosk by the exit doors closest to the tracks, as a way to encourage riders to bring home flowers. . . . more

Quincy-based J. Jill chain could have new ownership soon

Another new owner? You can’t blame employees at the J. Jill chain if they’re a little worried — or at least fatigued — by the news that the Quincy-based company could be changing hands. Again.

The Wall Street Journal just reported that the women’s apparel retailer is in the process of hiring investment banks to run a sales process. I reached out to executives at the chain's Batterymarch Park headquarters on Friday to ask about the news, but didn’t hear back. . . . more

An interesting view on the "Store of the Future"

For a collection of images and the author's ideas, please follow this link.

Unusually Cold Winter May Play Spoilsport For Lowe's Earnings Results

Home improvement retailer Lowe’s is scheduled to release its Q4 earnings results on February 26. Compared to the previous quarters in 2013, the performance of the housing market was a bit disappointing in the fourth quarter so Lowe’s may report only slightly higher year-over-year quarterly sales. On an annual basis, we expect the company to fall a bit short of its growth targets which were revised upwards at the end of Q3.

Lowe’s looks to have positioned itself well for higher demand for homes and home-related products. Its total sales rose by about 7.3% year-over-year in Q3 2013 and we expect sales to be higher on a year-over-year basis in the fourth quarter as well even though the increase in percentage terms may be moderate. In addition, the company’s gross margins in the previous quarter rose by 26 basis points from Q3 2012, primarily due to a favorable 52 basis point impact from its Value Improvement initiative. It was offset to some extent by an unfavorable impact from its credit value proposition program. We expect a further improvement in gross margins in the fourth quarter. . . . more

Changes come to auto parts industry

This year began with a shift in the retail auto parts industry.

On Jan. 2, Roanoke, Va.-based Advance Auto Parts announced the completion of its acquisition of General Parts International, a privately held distributor and supplier under the Carquest and Worldpac brands. The all-cash transaction had been announced in October, with an estimated value of $2.04 billion.

The company immediately claimed a new superlative.

“Collectively, the acquisition of General Parts positions Advance as the largest automotive parts provider in North America,” Advance CEO and Director Darren R. Jackson said in a Feb. 6 conference call discussing 2013 financial results.

In a news release, Advance said the operations add up to annual sales of $9.2 billion and more than 70,000 team members. . . more

H&M Sales Rise 15% in January

Swedish budget fashion retailer Hennes & Mauritz said on Monday its sales rose 15 percent in January, in line with a forecast which the company provided in its fourth quarter report.
Source: H&M

Analysts in a Reuters poll had also predicted the firm, which competes with its bigger rival Zara-owner Inditex , would post a 15 percent increase in total sales. 
H&M said in its quarterly report on Jan. 30 that it expected January sales to rise 15 percent.

Men's Wearhouse To Jos A Bank: I Want You To Want Me

There are a number of rock ballads that could score the soundtrack of the ongoing saga of the takeover battle between Men’s Wearhouse and Jos. A. Bank: The Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me”; Motley Crue’s “You’re All I Need”; and, now, after Men’s Wearhouse newest push to acquire its competitor, Cheap Trick’s “I Want You To Want Me.” That is, after all, the underlying message Men’s Wearhouse sent to Jos. A. Bank Monday morning by upping the price of a proposed takeover bid for its rival.
Men’s Wearhouse is now willing to pay $63.50 per share for the fellow men’s suit retailer, up from $57.50 per share previously, and even said it could go as high as $65 per share, a figure that would mark an 18% increase over Jos. A. Bank’s last closing price of $55.05. . . . more

Monday, February 24, 2014

It’s More than the Weather!

Watching Q4 retail sales roll in this year was less than impressive, to say the least, and January wasn’t any better. “It’s the weather”, everyone says [see our top story in National News below]. Of course, living in New England this winter has been a tough row to hoe, and Mother Nature has been even tougher on other regions of the country that are unaccustomed to seeing so much of the white stuff. There’s no question that bad weather affects shopping frequency, which in turn impacts retail sales.. . . more

Friday, February 21, 2014

Sbarro closes 155 company-owned units

Sbarro Holdings Inc. has closed 155 company-owned units in North America.

Even accounting for Wednesday’s closures, Sbarro has more than 800 units worldwide, including 81 that opened in 2013. According to Nation’s Restaurant News’ Top 100 report, Sbarro had 417 company-owned locations and 174 franchised units in the United States at the close of its 2012 fiscal year.. . . more

Valentine’s Day sales fall in advance, rise on holiday

Sales for Valentine’s Day this year fell prior to the holiday compared to the same period in 2013, but rose on the actual holiday itself, Feb. 14. According to new figures from site analytics provider RetailNext, men’s stores (that have gifts for men) saw decreased (-13.8%) sales the day before Valentine’s, but an increase of +22.2% in sales on Valentine's Day itself in 2014.

Meanwhile, women's stores (that have gifts for women) saw decreased (-13.5%) sales the day before Valentine’s, but an increase of +15.2% in sales on Valentine's Day itself in 2014. For all retailers examined, the three days before Valentine’s Day saw a -7.4% decrease in sales and -6.7% decline in traffic on average when compared to Feb. 11-13 in 2013.. . . more

Nordstrom’s net income slips in Q4; plans 31 new stores

Holiday markdowns and costs associated with growing its Nordstrom Rack outlet brand and planned entry into Canada had a negative impact on net earnings at Nordstrom Inc. during fourth quarter 2013. Fourth quarter net earnings slipped 6% compared to the same quarter the prior year, to $268 million from $284 million.

Net earnings for the full fiscal year remained almost flat, slightly rising to $735 million from $734 million. Both earnings figures fell short of Wall Street expectations.. . . more

Gap’s decision to raise wages puts pressure on others

(AP Photo/Paul Sakuma) Gap’s decision this week to raise the hourly wages of workers at its stores nationwide puts pressure on other major U.S. retailers to do the same.

Following Gap’s announcement that it will set the minimum wage for workers at $9 an hour this year and $10 an hour in 2015, big store chains from Wal-Mart to Sears said Thursday that they will continue to evaluate their wages.. . . more

Amazon Tempts the Anti-Amazons Inc. is in talks to bring listings for J. Crew khakis, Ralph Lauren polo shirts and Lord & Taylor suits to its site, according to people familiar with the talks.

The discussions, which seek to win over retailers that have largely shunned the online marketplace, involve about 10 well-known retailers, these people said, including Abercrombie & Fitch Co. and Neiman Marcus Group Inc.. . . more

Mohegan's Palmer landlord pursues breach- of-contract suit against casino operator

An artist rendering of the exterior of the proposed Mohegan Sun casino for Suffolk Downs.As if the executives at the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority didn’t have enough to worry about.

With days to go before a make-or-break vote in Revere on Mohegan Sun’s casino plan for Suffolk Downs, Mohegan's landlord in Palmer is pursuing a breach-of-contract suit against the casino operator in Hampden Superior Court. The landlord, Northeast Realty Associates LLC, claims that Mohegan Sun violated the terms of its lease by pursuing this plan in Revere after voters in Palmer narrowly rejected a Mohegan Sun casino there.. . . more

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Will Bill Ackman Ever Return to Retail?

With his latest divestiture, the sale of Pershing Square’s remaining 28 million shares of General Growth Properties back to the regional mall REIT for $556 million, it looks like Bill Ackman may be completely done with anything having to do with retail.

Midway through 2013, the hedge fund tycoon admitted that his investments in retail chains—including J.C. Penney, Borders and Target, among others—haven’t exactly panned out the way he’d hoped. Now he is explaining away the sale of GGP shares by claiming that the expected returns on the REIT’s stock would be too low after management fees were taken out.. . . more

Retail Occupancy, Rents Up, but Certain Cities Still Suffer

Reports on retail leasing in the fourth quarter of 2013 paint a picture of conflicting trends in the sector. Analysts identified modest gains in occupancies and rents, but tempered them with troubling hints of potential long-term difficulties.

Analyses from both Reis Inc., a New York City-based research firm, and CoStar Group, a Washington, D.C.-based research firm, found declines in vacancies at retail centers. According to CoStar, vacancy on a national basis dropped to an average of 6.7 percent from the fourth quarter of 2012 to the fourth quarter of 2013. That’s the lowest rate since 2008.. . . more