Thursday, February 26, 2015

Sears Signals That Long-Neglected Stores May Finally Get Updated

Sears Holdings Corp. StoreSears Holdings Corp. Chief Executive Officer Edward Lampert, who has spent years putting money into online efforts rather than physical stores, said Thursday that the chain’s aging fleet may finally be getting some upgrades.

After reporting the company’s 11th straight quarterly loss, Lampert said Sears will make “material changes” to how it sells products in lagging categories like consumer electronics. That could include featuring brands in store-within-a-store concepts. Some Sears locations also will add a real-life version of Marketplace, its online site that links shoppers with thousands of product sellers.. . . more

Dollar Tree says Family Dollar stores could be re-branded

Family Dollar Dollar GeneralDollar Tree executives said they plan to turn around struggling Family Dollar by re-branding many of its stores and trimming costs following its $8.5 billion acquisition of the company.

Dollar Tree said that it expects regulators will require "no more than roughly 300 stores" to be sold to get anti-trust approval for its purchase of Family Dollar, and that approval from the Federal Trade Commission could be reached in early March.. . . more

Women's apparel retailer Chico's cuts jobs, to shut stores

Women's apparel retailer Chico's FAS Inc said it had cut jobs and would shut about 120 stores by 2017 to save costs.

Chico's will close about 35 stores this year, the company said in a statement.

The company said it laid off around 240 employees, or about 12 percent of its headquarters and field management workforce.. . . more

Sears loses money again but CEO sees hope in smaller decline than 2013

Sears Holdings continued to lose money, now for the 11th consecutive quarter, as revenues and same-store sales — a key metric that excludes the revenue drop resulting from ongoing store closures — continued to decline.

The fourth-quarter loss was $159 million, an improvement over the loss of $358 million over the same period the prior year. Losses widened for the year, however, to $1.7 billion from $1.4 billion the year before.

Sales at stores open at least a year declined 4.4 percent for the important holiday quarter. Sears stores suffered the worst declines, at 7 percent, driven by declines in consumer electronics, apparel and Sears Auto Centers. Kmart's same-store sales were down 2 percent.. . . more

TJX Q4 profit surges 11%; announces employee wage hike

The TJX Cos. on Wednesday reported an 11% rise in fourth quarter profit and said it would raise employee pay above the minimum wage.

Net sales totaled $8.3 billion, a 6% increase over last year. Same store sales increased 4% over last year’s 3% increase. HomeGoods led growth with an 11% increase, while TJX Canada posted a 7% rise. T.J. Maxx and Marshalls both posted a 3% gain.. . . more

Hudson’s Bay in joint ventures with Simon Property, RioCan

Canadian retail giant Hudson’s Bay Co. (HBC) has entered into two blockbuster deals, forming joint ventures with Simon Property Group and Canada’s RioCan Real Estate Investment Trust to target real estate growth opportunities in the United States and Canada. Both ventures are structured to facilitate an IPO at a later date.

Under the agreement with Simon, HBC, whose banners include Hudson's Bay, Lord & Taylor and Saks Fifth Avenue, will contribute 42 properties to the venture, including the Saks Fifth Avenue Beverly Hills flagship and the Westchester and Manhasset Lord & Taylor stores.   (Not included is the Saks’ Manhattan flagship, whose latest appraisal puts its value at a whopping $3.7 billion.) The joint venture will then lease back the properties under triple-net operating leases to HBC.. . . more

Target outlines priorities on quarterly call

Target closed out a “year of transition” and is now looking to the future as it sharpens its focus on key priorities, including digital, smaller formats and wellness.

“It’s clear that 2014 was a year of transition in which we began to lay the foundation for the transformation we will accomplish in the next few years,” Brian Cornell, chairman and CEO of Target, told analysts during Wednesday’s fourth quarter conference call. “A year ago we were in the recovery mode working to repair guest relationships following the data breach, while we undertook an assessment of long-term prospects for our Canadian business.”. . . more

Plunge in Fuel Contained as Other Prices in U.S. Beat Forecasts

The recent slump in fuel prices is so far failing to ripple through the U.S. economy as the cost of services such as rents climbs, bolstering the Federal Reserve’s view that inflation will eventually reach its goal.

The consumer-price index declined 0.7 percent, the most since December 2008, after dropping 0.3 percent in December, a Labor Department report showed Thursday in Washington. The median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a 0.6 percent decrease. Excluding volatile food and fuel, the so-called core measure rose 0.2 percent, more than projected.. . . more

RadioShack to slow sale process; GameStop eyes stores

A RadioShack store is pictured in the Manhattan borough of New York January 15, 2015.  REUTERS/Carlo Allegri Bankrupt RadioShack Corp will slow the process of selling its surviving stores, while GameStop Corp has expressed interest in some of its 1,100 locations that are being closed this month, a lawyer for the electronics retailer told a judge on Wednesday.

RadioShack entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy earlier this month with about 4,000 stores. It plans to sell about 2,000 to an affiliate of hedge fund Standard General, which plans to operate them with wireless company Sprint Corp.. . . more

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Sycamore abandons pursuit of apparel retailer Chico's

Image result for chico'sPrivate equity firm Sycamore Partners has abandoned its attempt to buy apparel retailer Chico's FAS Inc after failing to secure financing on acceptable terms, the Wall Street Journal reported quoting a person familiar with the matter.

Sycamore had an in-principle agreement to acquire Chico's, subject to securing financing. Some banks were reluctant to meet the private equity firm's demands for a lot of debt to increase returns on the deal, two people familiar with the matter had told Reuters.. . . more

Lumber Liquidators profit drops in Q4; will open 30-35 stores

Despite falling net income, Lumber Liquidators Inc. plans to open 30-35 new stores and remodel 15-20 stores, all in an expanded showroom format, during fiscal 2015. In the fourth quarter of fiscal 2014, the retailer reported net income of $17.3 million, down 17% from $20.8 million in the same quarter the prior year.

Net sales increased 5% to $272 million, from $258.4 million. Same-store sales decreased 4.2%, driven by a 5.3% decrease in the average sale partially offset by a 1.1% increase in the number of customers invoiced.. . . more

Few consumers report recent bad retail experience

In a sign that retailer efforts to enhance customer service may be working, few consumers report having a bad experience with a retailer in the past six months. According to a new Temkin Group report, “What Happens After a Good or Bad Experience, 2015,” only 4% of consumers report having a bad experience with a retailer.

Six retailers are at a 1% reporting level for bad customer experience: True Value, Costco, Bed Bath & Beyond, Ace Hardware, Gap, and Staples.. . . more

Staples offers small business loans

Staples Inc. has launched the “Staples Business Loans powered by Lendio” service to provide access to capital for small business owners. Staples teamed up with Lendio, a financial technology firm and small business-lending marketplace, to deliver a suite of funding options.

Staples Business Loans offers more than 20 different funding options and the flexibility for businesses to use the money for whatever their business needs.. . . more

Eatery hit by marathon bomb to close doors

Forum, the Boylston Street bar and restaurant at ground zero of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, will close March 1 due to a large rent increase, according to owner Boston Nightlife Ventures.

“Unfortunately, the current real estate climate on Boylston Street has motivated Forum’s landlord to raise rent this year by nearly three times our current rate,” president Euz Azevedo said in a statement yesterday. “This rent increase makes it financially impossible for Boston Nightlife Ventures to operate and sustain a business at a location that means so much to us and to our city.”. . . more

Why you'll get even more discounts at Macy's this year

Take heed, discount shoppers — Macy’s will soon have new stores designed just for you.

In a conference call Tuesday, the department store chain talked about opening “off-price” stores to sell returned goods and cancelled orders at a lower price point than normal Macy’s stores, according to Reuters.. . . more

Yelp, Huffington Post reveal which types of stores are the most ‘wildly popular’ in Maine

Curt Stephens of Halifax, Nova Scotia browses the used albums at Vinylhaven Records on Maine Street in Brunswick in this 2012 file photo. (BDN photo by Troy R. Bennett)The business review site Yelp teamed up with the online newspaper Huffington Post to release a map of what they called “the most wildly popular type of store in each state.”

To determine the most popular store types in each state, Yelp calculated the most prevalent types of stores in each state — specifically, which types of stores represented the highest percentages of overall stores in each state — then looked at which store types had disproportionately high percentages in which states.. . . more

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Cell towers bring landlords higher profits

As well-located retail real estate grows scarcer, landlords are seeking growth solutions above — specifically, on their own rooftops. From dining decks to public gathering spaces, and from cell towers to solar panels, property owners are turning to their once-barren roofs to add new dimensions and open new revenue streams. “Shopping center roofs are no longer just places where you plunk down 300 HVAC units,” said Michael Hirschfeld, co-leader of JLL’s national retail tenant services group. “Roofs have unlimited and untapped potential.”

By far the most prevalent use for shopping center roofs is industrial: to wit, the telecom cell tower. “That market continues to expand with the rapid growth in cellphone use, and there’s a drastic need for new and existing sites,” said Hugh Odom, president of Nashville, Tenn.–based Vertical Consultants. “That’s where owners have a huge opening to create more value.”. . . more

How Secure are American Malls in the Wake of al-Shabaab’s Threat?

Security has been heightened at the Mall of America in the wake of a video posted by Somalia-based Islamist terrorist group al-Shabaab last Saturday, asking Western Muslims to “answer the call” of jihad by attacking “American- and Jewish-owned” shopping malls in the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada.

According to CNN, in the United Kingdom, two Westfield malls in Stratford and White City, as well as Oxford Street in London, were also threatened, along with the West Edmonton Mall in Alberta, Canada. While several other malls and shopping areas in North America and Europe were also listed as targets in the video, CNN is only naming the malls that, so far, have responded publicly to the threats.. . . more

Mall officials, ICSC respond to terror threat

The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) released a statement regarding the terror threat at malls:

“While some security measures deployed at shopping centers such as the use of bollards, uniformed patrols by law enforcement officers, and surveillance camera systems will be evident to consumers, many more protective measures will not. When it comes to protecting and securing a shopping center, many factors are taken into consideration and security plans and procedures are customized to each center’s unique characteristics.  In short, there is no-one-size fits all approach taken when it comes to developing and deploying a security program. Individual centers continually update and refine their security plans in concert with their law enforcement partners as part of their ongoing effort to be vigilant. The shopping center industry will continue to work with its law enforcement partners to ensure that shopping centers are safe and comfortable environments in which to shop. Consumers can be assured that their safety and the safety of shopping center employees are the industry’s number one priority.”. . . more

Home Depot 4Q tops Street on holiday; OKs $18B buyback

Home Depot approves $18B buyback; boosts dividend 26 pct. photo

Chairman and CEO Craig Menear said during a conference call that sales were helped by a strong customer response to its holiday decor and gift center as well as its Black Friday deals. Online business also did well, particularly during the period known as "Cyber Week."

Sales at stores open at least a year rose 7.9 percent in the quarter, 8.9 percent if only U.S. stores are counted.. . . more

RadioShack Urges Fast Sales for ‘Melting Ice Cube’ of Assets

RadioShack Corp.Bankrupt consumer-electronics chain RadioShack Corp. pushed back against a creditor panel’s criticisms of its proposed auction procedures, saying a drawn-out sales process could diminish the value of the assets and hurt recoveries.

“Although the committee closes its eyes to it, the debtors’ estate is in fact a ‘melting ice cube’ that is losing value on a daily basis,” Fort Worth, Texas-based RadioShack said in court papers.. . . more

Macy's beats earnings expectations in Q4

Macy's beat analyst expectations on earnings but missed on revenue in the fourth quarter, the company announced Tuesday.

Sales for the quarter ended Jan. 31 grew to $9.36 billion from $9.2 billion in the same quarter a year ago. That fell short of analysts' expectations for revenue of $9.4 billion. Sales at stores open at least a year increased 2.5%.. . . more

Monday, February 23, 2015

Wal-Mart wage hike could pressure Target, other chains

Target3x2As Wal-Mart Stores Inc. gives raises to a half-million employees, it may indirectly boost the pay of millions of other workers — the ones working for its rivals.

Reuters reports on the likely fallout from Wal-Mart's Thursday announcement saying that it would boost the wages of U.S. workers to $10 an hour next year, above both U.S. and North Carolina minimum wage levels.. . . more

Target undercuts Amazon on free shipping

Target-checkoutTarget is trying to hit Amazon where it hurts.

The retail chain announced Monday that customers can qualify for free shipping on all orders of $25 or more placed through Target's website "with virtually no exclusions," down from a $50 minimum previously.. . . more

How Chipotle is forcing sit-down chains like Olive Garden to rethink lunch

For years, casual restaurants such as Olive Garden and Buffalo Wild Wings have been battling for your dinnertime dollars, to be the place where you take the kids for a heaping bowl of spaghetti on their birthday or where you slurp beers with your buddies on game night.

But now these sit-down restaurant chains are hungry for your lunch order, too.. . . more

Big US, Canadian shopping malls: Next terrorist target?

Image result for mall of america Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson says he’s “confident” that big shopping malls will enhance security measures in the wake of new threats of attack by Al Shabab, an Al Qaeda-linked extremist group based in Somalia.

Still, Secretary Johnson said on CNN Sunday, "Anytime a terrorist organization calls for an attack on a specific place, we've got to take that seriously." Johnson spoke on five Sunday morning TV news programs.. . . more

Nordstrom Q4 profit falls on higher costs; will open 26 Rack stores in 2015

Nordstrom Inc.’s fourth-quarter net income fell a lower-than-expected 4.9% to $255 million, down from $268 million a year earlier, even as its same-store sales topped expectations. The profit decline came amid higher costs, including those related to tech upgrades and its acquisition of Trunk Club, and increased promotions at Nordstrom Rack.

The retailer is boosting capital expenditures in fiscal 2015 to $1.2 billion from $751 million last year with plans to open 27 off-price Rack stores, expand into Canada and Manhattan, remodel existing stores and opens a third fulfillment center. On its quarterly earnings call with investors, Nordstrom said it sees a “clear path to reach 300 Rack stores by 2020.”. . . more

Court okays RadioShack sale of 1,100 stores

RadioShack Corp. has received bankruptcy court approval to sell more than 1,100 stores it plans to close by the end of this month. According to Reuters, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Brendan Shannon in Wilmington, Delaware, has officially approved the closing and auctioning of the stores.

Bidding on the stores has actually been in process for several weeks and bids closed Friday, Feb. 20. RadioShack is seeking to close the stores before it has to pay March rental fees, and plans to seek court approval for bidding on another 2,400 stores it plans to keep open on Monday, Feb. 23.. . . more

Retail sales growth in surprise dip

Shoppers on London's Oxford StreetFebruary saw retail sales fall back compared with a year ago - against expectations - according to a survey by the business lobby group, the CBI.

Its quarterly distributive trades survey of 138 firms showed orders placed with suppliers also dropped off.

The slide followed six months of "very buoyant" sales, and although firms are optimistic next month will pick up, these hopes are more modest than before.. . . more

Friday, February 20, 2015

Sports Authority said to be at 'high' risk of default

Sports Authority is the latest retailer to find itself at risk of running out of cash.

Credit rating analyst Moody's has cut its rating on Sports Authority's debt deeper into junk bond status and warned the chain could be less than a year away from defaulting on a $300 million loan.. . . more

Foot Locker approves $220 million capital expenditures for 2015

Foot Locker Inc. is investing in the future. The company’s board of directors has approved a $220 million capital expenditure program for 2015, maintaining the level of investment in the business that Foot Locker initiated in 2013.

In recent years, the Foot Locker has invested in a variety of strategic growth initiatives, including new store formats, continued expansion of its European banners, capabilities in its direct-to-customer segment, and various technology initiatives.  . . . more

Retail sales to reach $4.9 trillion in 2015

Retail sales in the U.S. will reach $4.87 trillion for the full year 2015. According to EMarketer analysis, this represents a 4% increase from 2014.

U.S. retail e-commerce sales will total approximately $350 billion in 2015, up 14% from $305.7 billion the prior year. Despite rapid growth, retail ecommerce will still account for just 7% of total retail sales in the U.S. during the current year, EMarketer estimates.. . . more

Ann Inc. working with JPMorgan on sale

Ann Inc., parent of Ann Taylor and Loft. is reportedly working with financial firm JPMorgan Chase & Co. on a potential sale. According to Bloomberg, the $1.6 billion Ann Inc. has spoken with other retail chains and at least two buyout firms and a private equity firm.

Ann Inc. stated in an October 2014 financial filing it would consider strategic options. Rumors have been circulating that Ann Inc. has been considering a sale since at least August 2014, when media reports indicated the company had been in touch with JPMorgan. That same month, investors Engine Capital LP and Red Alder LLC publicly supported a buyout.. . . more

Unlike Others, Urban Outfitters Will Continue To Open Stores

While players such as American Eagle Outfitters,Aeropostale and Gap Inc are consolidating their respective store networks in the U.S. in the wake of the ongoing online shift, Urban Outfitters doesn’t seem to have any such plans. The company has been opening stores regularly over the past several quarters, which will most likely continue going forward. With buyers in numbers switching to online shopping and visiting fewer stores, store expansion offers very few incentives. However, for Urban Outfitters, store expansion is necessary from the perspective of omni-channel retailing and incremental revenues from new stores is a bonus. The brand’s presence in the U.S. market is limited to just 179 stores (as of Q3 2014), which is significantly less than what some of its counterparts operate.. . . more

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Seven Retail Megatrends for 2020

If it hasn't done so already, the consumer experience will undoubtedly include omnichannel shopping, mobile, and social media as part of what consumers do naturally. Based on this inevitable evolution of how customers engage with retailers, here are seven retail “megatrends” which will become reality by 2020.

Private equity and IPOs will fuel both competition and consolidation: Financially, there is consolidation in retail, emergence of new private equity owners, and growth in IPOs. Opportunities for private takeovers abound.. . . more

Tractor Supply opens 1,400th store as part of aggressive expansion

Tractor Supply Company will open its 1,400th store, in Eunice, Louisiana, on Feb. 21. The location is one 110 to 115 new stores the retailer plans to open this year.

During fiscal 2015, Tractor Supply expects capital expenditures to total $240 million and $250 million, including spending to support new store growth.  . . . more

Wal-Mart's Q4 results overshadowed by employee pay hike

Increased traffic and better than expected same-store sales growth at Walmart’s U.S. stores were bright spots in the retailer’s fourth quarter earnings. But the big story in Thursday’s earnings release was the announcement that approximately 500,000 full-time and part-time associates at Walmart U.S. stores and Sam's Clubs will receive pay raises in the first half of the current fiscal year.

As a result, hourly associates will earn at least $1.75 above today's federal minimum wage, or $9 per hour, in April. The following year, by Feb. 1, 2016, current associates will earn at least $10 per hour.. . . more

VF Corp. plans to open 150 new retail stores

Image result for vans shoe storeVF Corp., maker of such famous brands as Wrangler jeans and Vans shoes, plans to open 150 new retail stores this year.

The company announced the news late last week during a report of its 2014 fourth-quarter and full-year results. The stores are part of VF’s efforts to grow its retail stores and e-commerce business.. . . more