Friday, August 29, 2014

Google tests drone deliveries in Project Wing trials

Project WingGoogle has built and tested autonomous aerial vehicles, which it believes could be used for goods deliveries.

The project is being developed at Google X, the company's clandestine tech research arm, which is also responsible for its self-driving car.

Project Wing has been running for two years, but was a secret until now.. . . more

Destination XL Q2 loss widens; plans 40 new DXL stores

Charges related to the decision by Destination XL Group Inc. to exit the Sears Canada Direct business resulted in the retailer’s net loss growing to $4 million in the second quarter of fiscal 2014, from $1.6 million a year earlier.

Total sales fared better, driven by increased traffic and higher conversion rates, increasing 6% to $103.7 million, compared with $98 million in the second quarter of fiscal 2013.Same-store sales rose 7%.

For the full fiscal year, the retailer anticipates opening 40 additional 5,000-sq.-ft. to 6,000-sq.-ft. DXL stores in select smaller markets and in markets where geographical considerations warrant an additional presence.. . . more

Outlet Center Development Pushes Forward

While retail development across the nation remains slow, there’s one property type that continues to show signs of life: outlet centers.

“Outlet center developers are looking for and finding development opportunities,” says Rich Moore, a REIT analyst with RBC Capital Markets. “Every quarter we get more development announcements, and I think we’re going to see a lot more development in the space. Everybody wants to build more of them.”. . . more

Here are five key factors that ensured the Market Basket deal could be reached

Pulling off this deal was no easy task for Arthur T. Demoulas. Buying out rival cousin Arthur S. Demoulas’ side of the family was Arthur T.’s only ticket back to the CEO’s job at Demoulas Super Markets.

We all know how that turned out. ATD brought an offer to the Demoulas board, now revealed to be more than $1.5 billion, to buy the 50.5-percent stake that his side didn’t already own, and to return to the CEO’s job. Finally, the deal became official this week, after some of the smaller details were hammered out. It was by no means a simple maneuver, though. Arthur T. will be borrowing a significant amount of money to make the deal happen, and bringing in private equity firm Blackstone as an equity investor owning roughly one-sixth of the company.. . . more

For Market Basket workers, ‘it’s time’

The day after forcing the return of Arthur T. Demoulas as Market Basket’s leader, workers were happily dividing their energy between two demands: basking in the glow of their hard-won triumph, and the monumental challenge of rebuilding the company they just spent six weeks trying to cripple.

“The customers have supported us nonstop for six weeks, so we owe it to them to get this place back together,” said Bob Chausse, the assistant director of the chain’s flagship Chelsea store.. . . more

U.S. Consumer Spending Falls for First Time in Six Months

Consumer spending in the U.S. unexpectedly dropped in July for the first time in six months, a sign households are lagging behind as wages fail to accelerate.

Household purchases decreased 0.1 percent after increasing 0.4 percent in June, Commerce Department figures showed today in Washington. . . . more

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Wegmans gets approval for more seating

A true SUPERmarketWegmans gained unanimous approval from the Planning Board regarding an amendment to a special permit that will see 32 seats added inside the supermarket’s “Market CafĂ©” food court area.

Wegmans, which is expected to open a 135,000-square-foot building in Burlington on Oct. 26, will anchor the retail/restaurant hub in Northwest Park. It will be comprised of a supermarket, parking garage, mezzanine, and food court. Other establishments open or opening on 3rd Ave. include The Bancroft (open), PAUL Bakery, Tony C's, Redstone American Grill, Margutta, Cambridge Savings Bank (open), Boston Interiors, Carter's Diamonds, and Kings Bowl who is rebuilding on the site where it burned down in April. Kings declared they anticipate opening in January.. . . more

Abercrombie comparable sales continue slide

Teen apparel retailer Abercrombie & Fitch Co's same-store sales declined for the tenth straight quarter as it struggled to attract customers who held back discretionary spending amid wage cuts and fewer jobs.

Abercrombie and rivals Aeropostale Inc and American Apparel Inc have struggled to keep teen shoppers from moving to cheaper and trendier "fast fashion" chains such as Forever 21, Inditex's Zara and Sweden's H&M.

Abercrombie's same-store sales decreased 7 percent in the second quarter ended Aug. 2 and U.S. same-store sales fell 5 percent.. . . more

Retail Cap Rates Hold Steady as Property Fundamentals Improve

Cap rates on retail properties sold in the second quarter held relatively steady in the second quarter at 6.99 percent. This is notable for two reasons. First, the 10-year U.S. Treasury yield, a “risk free” indicator, declined by 20 basis points, from 2.73 percent to 2.53 percent. Second, the Moody’s Baa corporate bond yield declined by 30 basis points in the second quarter, from 5 percent to 4.7 percent.

The overall retail occupancy rate increased to 88.3 percent in the second quarter—up 50 basis points compared to a year earlier, and up 20 basis points compared to the first quarter of the year. The occupancy rate now stands 150 basis points above the post-recession low of 86.8 percent. . . . more

Sears to close 35 more stores as it boosts online presence

Sears store at Staten Island MallWith Sears losing more than $500 million in the last quarter, the retailer is shutting 130 stores across the country.

After already closing 95 stores, the retailer says it will shut down 35 more. Sears Holding Co. said there could be more stores shut down in the future.

 The losses are occurring as the retailer attempts to rebrand, which started as a rewards program and has expanded into a "social shopping experience.". . . more

Guess Q2 earnings fall 50%, but online sales rise nearly 50%

Guess on Wednesday reported second-quarter net earnings of $22 million, a 50.5% decrease compared to adjusted net earnings of $44.3 million for the year ago period. The retailer, which also cuts its fiscal year outlet, noted that soft traffic and promotional activity have continued to put its North American stores under pressure.

Sales for the quarter fell 4.8% to $608.6 million, from $639 million a year ago. Same-store sales decreased 5.4%. Guess said it was encouraged by its North American online business, which grew by almost 50% in the second quarter.. . . more

Dollar General remains committed to buying Family Dollar

Dollar General Corp. on Thursday reported earnings of $251.3 million for the second quarter, in line with expectations, even as its sales decelerated. The company also said it still wants to buy Family Dollar Stores, even though the rival discounter rejected Dollar General’s bid of its $8.95 billion offer last week.

"We remain firmly committed to the acquisition," Dollar General CEO Rick Dreiling said in a statement on Thursday. “The financial benefits of our offer to Family Dollar shareholders are indisputable, and the proposed combination would unlock tremendous value for Dollar General shareholders.”. . . more

Market Basket stores scrambling to restock with Arthur T. Demoulas back at the helm

Market Basket is effectively back in Arthur T. Demoulas' hands.

After an eight-week battle that threatened to destroy the 71-store supermarket chain — and after years of bitter fighting in court between factions of the Demoulas family — the Arthur S. Demoulas side of the Demoulas clan agreed late last night to sell control of the business to a group led by ousted CEO Arthur T. Demoulas.. . . more

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Buffett to Get 9% on $3 Billion Burger King Investment

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. is providing $3 billion of financing for Burger King Worldwide Inc.’s planned takeover of Tim Hortons Inc. and will earn 9 percent annual interest on the investment.

Berkshire is taking a preferred equity stake and won’t be involved in managing the restaurant business, according to a statement today from Burger King.. . . moren

Standard General attempting RadioShack ‘rescue package’

Hedge fund Standard General LP, RadioShack’s second-largest shareholder, is reportedly trying to negotiate a “rescue package” by obtaining debt and equity financing from outside investors. According Bloomberg, Standard General is also meeting with RadioShack management to create a plan that will let the retailer avoid filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

In July, Moody’s Investor Service predicted that RadioShack will run out cash around November 2015 unless it receives a cash infusion. Standard General is currently working with American Apparel to enable the retailer to pay off a $10 million loan and also move forward with its business regardless of whether founder Dov Charney, who has been accused of harassment, remains with the company.. . . more

Crumbs Bake Shop to Reopen Stores After Court Approval

Crumbs Bake Shop Inc. won court approval on Tuesday to begin reopening stores as soon as next month under a new ownership team that plans to expand the chain beyond its signature cupcakes.

Judge Michael Kaplan in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Newark, N.J., signed off on the sale to self-styled turnaround guru Marcus Lemonis and Dippin' Dots owner Fischer Enterprises, which is taking over Crumbs in exchange for the cancellation of some $6.5 million in debt.. . . more

Whopper merger could fuel chain

Burger King’s $11.4 billion merger with Tim Hortons will accelerate the No. 1 Canadian coffee-shop chain’s U.S. growth and help it better compete with Canton’s Dunkin’ Donuts, but analysts say there’s plenty of room for both brands.

The United States is a “must-win” market for the 50-year-old Tim Hortons, whose marriage with Miami-based Burger King will create the third-largest fast-food company with
$23 billion in annual sales and 18,000 locations.. . . more

Market Basket weighs closing 61 stores if deal falls through

The Market Basket board reviewed a range of alternative plans including one that would close 61 of the chain’s 71 stores and lay off workers, as shareholders and the paralyzed grocery chain’s former CEO Arthur T. Demoulas worked feverishly last night to hash out details of a deal on Demoulas’ bid to buy the company.

Sources told the Herald last night the Market Basket board has before it contingency plans to implement if the deal falls through. The plans revolve around closing a numbers of stores, and are predicated in part on the willingness of store directors to participate, the sources said.. . . more

Dollar Store Duel Shows Terms Don't Matter If The Deal Falls Through

English: Self-made photo of the Family Dollar ...Family Dollar rejected Dollar General’s offer, deciding that a deal with Dollar Tree was more likely to get over the finish line than a deal with Dollar General. In particular, Ed Garden, an independent director on Family Dollar’s board,said in a statement that Family Dollar “will not jeopardize the Dollar Tree deal for a transaction with Dollar General that has a high likelihood of not closing due to antitrust considerations.”

While some analysts have commented that Family Dollar’s rejection is just anegotiating tactic, it doesn’t dilute the important lesson for lower middle market business owners seeking to sell their companies: Completing the sale of your company matters! The best price and terms in the world don’t mean a thing if the deal evaporates before closing. . . . more

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Better jobs market lifting consumer confidence

A strengthening labor market perked up consumers this month, bumping up their confidence to the highest level in seven years, according to data released Tuesday.

The overall consumer-confidence index rose to 92.4 — the highest since October 2007 — from a revised 90.3 in July. Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected the index to pull back to 88.5 from an originally reported 90.9 in July.. . . more

Burger King to Buy Tim Hortons for About $11.4 Billion

Burger King Worldwide Inc. agreed to acquire Tim Hortons Inc. for about C$12.5 billion ($11.4 billion) in a deal that creates the third-largest fast-food company and moves its headquarters to Canada.

The purchase gives Burger King access to a coffee brand with a cult following, which may help boost breakfast sales. Tim Hortons, Canada’s biggest seller of coffee and doughnuts, also lets Burger King get into the grocery business by selling packaged coffees at supermarkets in North America. The combined business would create a fast-food network with $23 billion in sales, including franchisees, and more than 18,000 restaurants in 100 countries.. . . more

McDonald's Not So Golden With Millennials

McDonald’s knows it has an image problem, especially with millennials. But a new study for The Wall Street Journal confirms what the nation’s top burger slinger suspected: Millennials are increasingly turning to fast-casual restaurants such as Chipotle Mexican Grill for its healthier menu items.

The study by restaurant consultancy Technomic Inc. revealed that diners in their 20s and 30s are increasingly seeking alternatives to the Golden Arches. Since 2011, the percentage of U.S. customers ages 19 to 21 visiting McDonald’s each month fell by 12.9 percentage points, Technomic reported. For diners ages 22 to 37, monthly visits were flat.. . . more

Best Buy hits on profit, falls shy on revenue

Best Buy Co.’s second-quarter profit was higher than expected, but its sales fell short and executives remained cautious for the second half of the retailer’s fiscal year.

They cited industrywide drops in sales of consumer electronics products and uncertainty about the timing of product launches from cellphone manufacturers.. . . more

Burger King deal could take a bite out of Dunkin' Donuts' national ambitions

There are plenty of people who are happy about Burger King’s confirmation yesterday that it is in advanced talks to acquire the Tim Hortons coffee shop chain: shareholders, investment bankers, tax lawyers, Timbits fans.

But the execs at the Dunkin’ Brands mother ship in Canton might not be joining in the celebration.. . . more

Market Basket to Hold Off on Replacing Workers as Negotiations Continue

As negotiations over a possible sale of Market Basket to Arthur T. Demoulas and his family stretch into the week, management will continue to hold off on taking action against protesting workers, a company spokesperson told

According to the spokesperson, Market Basket management will continue to sit tight for the time being, and will not hire to replace protesting workers. Warehouse and office employees who walked out on July 18 have not responded to two deadlines from management to return to their positions despite warnings that they would be replaced.. . . more

5 Stores Back-To-School Shopping Can't Save

Parents and students are still back-to-school shopping. It's just some retailers that are dropping out.

As the burden of school preparation shifts from school districts to families, parents and students alike shift from years-old routines to a hunt for the cheapest items and best values. There's still a lot of back-to-school money on the table, but some of the usual retail suspects aren't sticking around long enough to collect.. . . more

Monday, August 25, 2014

Duane Reade stores will be co-branded with Walgreens

Duane Reade stores will be co-branded with WalgreensNew York City’s iconic Duane Reade drugstore nameplate looks like it’s getting downgraded.

At a new store on Seventh Avenue just north of 34th Street, the sign in front reads, “Duane Reade by Walgreens.”

It is the first time the brand has been forced to share billing with its corporate parent.. . . more

Not so cool anymore, teen-focused retailers like Abercrombie try to reinvent themselves

To visit the Abercrombie & Fitch store at the Pentagon City mall this back-to-school shopping season is to see a retailer fighting to win back its customers. The store’s windows, which for years were kept shuttered to create an air of mystery and exclusivity, are now open and feature a mannequin wearing a gauzy white camisole and skinny jeans. Inside the store, electronic beats still pulse through the speakers, but at a much lower volume than before. And to find a T-shirt with the company’s famous logo, once a staple item, you’ll have to walk to the back of the store.

Abercrombie & Fitch, once the epitome of teen cool, is fighting along with rivals American Eagle and Aeropostale to lure back the legions of teenagers who abandoned them in recent years for trendier stores.. . . more

Tim Hortons may be bought by Burger King

Talk of Burger King swallowing Tim HortonsBurger King is in talks to buy Tim Hortons Inc. and form a new publicly listed company that would be based in Canada.

The company said in a statement Sunday night that Canada would be the largest market of the combined company.. . . more

Foot Locker Q2 profit, sales top estimates

Foot Locker on Friday turned in another winning performance, posting sales and income for the second quarter that topped analysts’ estimates.

Net income for the quarter increased to $92 million, from $66 million in the year-ago period.

Total sales increased 12.9%, to $1.64 billion, compared with $1.45 billion for the corresponding prior-year period. Same-store sales rose 7%.. . . more

Tentative plans drawn for a Market Basket rebound

Board delays vote on possible deal

Store managers at the embattled Market Basket grocery chain are phoning part-timers whose hours had been eliminated to see if they can return to work as soon as today, as the company’s shareholders spent the weekend mulling ousted CEO Arthur T. Demoulas’ bid, and customers showed their eagerness to get back into the checkout lines.

“People are coming in with their shopping carts ready to shop thinking everything’s done, but it hasn’t been,” said Xavier Taylor, grocery manager at the Tewksbury location. “They’ve left their carriage and walked right back out.”. . . more

Dollar stores in battle to double down on the poor

A Family Dollar store is seen in Chicago, in this June 25, 2012 file photo. REUTERS/Jim Young/FilesThe small but frequent purchases of low-income customers add up: Family Dollar Stores, which operates about 8,200 stores in mainly urban sections of the U.S., is the target of an $9 billion cash takeover offer from rival Dollar General and an $8.5 billion cash and stock offer from Dollar Tree. Both competitors are betting not only on the health of the deep discount retail sector but also on the intractability of poverty in America.

Mid-market retailers like Wal-Mart Stores Inc, Macy's Inc and J.C. Penney Company Inc have been struggling in recent years as consumers have been slow to return to their pre-recession, freer spending ways. On Wednesday, Target said it was cutting its full-year earnings and slashing prices.. . . more

Ann Inc., Parent of Ann Taylor Stores, Urged to Explore a Sale

Ann Inc., the parent company of Ann Taylor stores, is being pressed to explore options including a sale by the activist investor Engine Capital and the hedge fund Red Alder.

In a letter made public on Monday morning, Engine Capital said it believed that the company could be worth $50 to $55 a share to an acquirer, or a 33 to 46.5 percent premium to its current stock price. The retailer operates more than 1,000 stores under the Ann Taylor and Loft brands, including outlet stores.. . . more

Friday, August 22, 2014

Merger talk not slowing Dollar General’s move into Maine

Dollar General Corp., the largest player in retailing’s competitive dollar store category, is moving ahead with plans for its first stores in Maine.

Dollar General, which launched a hostile takeover bid for third-ranked Dollar Tree, Inc. stores this week, is well along in the preparation for construction on a new store on Kennedy Memorial Drive in Oakland.

 Dollar General announced plans last spring to expand into three states in which it does not operate: Maine, Rhode Island and Oregon. The general contractor in charge of the Oakland location also is building a store in Lewiston for the company. . . more