Thursday, January 31, 2019

Is Eddie Lampert set to 'steal' Kenmore brand? Courtroom clash will decide fate of Sears

USA Today
A last-minute bid to save Sears now faces new challenges.

The U.S. government, major mall owners and other creditors are lining up to block the effort to hold off liquidation, setting up a courtroom clash to decide the fate of one of America's most iconic retailers.

The federal agency that backstops corporate pensions is objecting to Sears chairman, investor and former CEO Eddie Lampert's bid to acquire the retailer out of bankruptcy, a deal that presents the last remaining alternative to going out of business altogether. The agency accused Lampert of structuring the deal to inappropriately obtain ownership of the chain's Kenmore appliance brand and the DieHard tools brand. . . . more

Toby Keith's Bar Blames Patriot Place For Closing

The Patch Foxborough
Toby Keith's I Love This Bar and Grill closed abruptly on Wednesday, and a representative from Toby Keith's argued that Patriot Place was to blame. Debbie Corvo owner and operator of Toby Keith's, told Patch the bar had to close because Patriot Place acted "very greedy,"  and had badly harmed their business.

A representative at Patriot Place disputed Corvo's claims, arguing the decision not to renew the lease at 275 Patriot Place was not Patriot Place's decision alone. . . . more

First Look: Giant Foods Stores unveils Heirloom Market

Chain Store Age
Giant Food Stores has gone urban — and smaller.

Giant Heirloom Market, a new smaller-sized supermarket concept from Ahold Delhaize’s Giant Food Stores, is now open. The 9,500-sq.-ft. store is located in the Graduate Hospital neighborhood of Philadelphia and the first of several locations planned for the city.. . . more

How Many More Store Closures Are Expected in 2019?

Despite headline-making store closings by Sears, Bon-Ton, Kmart,and others over the past few months, U.S. shopping center and mall owners have been working hard to hang on to tenants. However, they are likely gearing up for another challenging year as more store closures are anticipated in 2019.

Research firm Reis Inc. reported that the overall U.S. retail vacancy rate in the fourth quarter of 2018 remained flat at 10.2 percent. The vacancy rate are regional and superregional malls dropped slightly to 9.0 percent from 9.1 percent in the third quarter, which marked a seven-year high.. . . more

Pending Sears Buyout Puts Regional Mall Owners in Limbo

Sears Holdings Corp. Chairman Eddie Lampert put in a winning bid to buy the struggling retailer out of bankruptcy earlier this month following the company’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing in October. But the “rescue” Lampert is orchestrating to keep the lights on at more than 400 Sears and Kmart stores is not necessarily welcome news to mall owners.

Lampert’s bid of $5.2 billion to buy the company via his hedge fund, ESL Investments, was accepted by U.S. Bankruptcy Court. However, it is not a done deal. Creditors still have the ability to appeal that decision and plead their case in favor of liquidation. . . . more

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Kohl's to bring Weight Watchers studio to Chicago store

Retail Dive
Kohl's is moving into the health and wellness area. On Tuesday, the department store retailer unveiled a pilot program with WW — previously known as Weight Watchers — for an in-store WW Studio. Select Kohl's stores and will begin offering WW Healthy Kitchen products in June, and store associates can also gain subsidized WW Freestyle program memberships through the Kohl's Healthy Rewards program.

The first WW Studio this year will take up about 1,800 square feet inside a Chicago Kohl's store, "to host WW Wellness Workshops for local WW members, as well as a specially curated WW space for Kohl's customers and associates," according to a company press release.. . . more

Macy’s to close one Massachusetts store among nine stores company is closing nationwide
Macy’s will close its Swansea Mall store on March 24, according to staffers there.

It’s the only Massachusetts location among a published list of nine Macy’s locations nationwide that will close in early 2019. . . . more

Aldi a growing competitive force

Chain Store Age
Shoppers continue to score traditional supermarkets high in quality and store cleanliness and selection, but deep-discounter Aldi is a growing threat.

That’s according to a study by the Retail FeedBack Group, which found that traditional supermarkets continue to maintain the strongest overall satisfaction score (4.31 on a five-point scale) when compared to Aldi (4.27) and Walmart (3.93). Supermarkets also have the highest scores in quality and variety.. . . more

Michaels to close Pat Catan’s nearly three years after buying local craft store chain

The Plain Dealer
Michaels confirmed this morning that all Pat Catan’s stores will close, although 12 will be rebranded as Michaels with plans to reopen later this year.

In February 2016, the locally founded, family-run crafts and decor retailer, was acquired by Michaels Companies Inc. for $150 million. Michaels Companies Inc. is the largest arts and crafts retailer in North America, based in Irving, Texas. . . . more

Skip the dentist’s office: Walgreens and CVS are offering ways to fix your teeth in their stores

You can already get checked and treated for strep throat at many drugstores. You can now get your teeth cleaned and straightened at some.

CVS Health is running a pilot with SmileDirectClub to fit people for the start-up’s invisible braces in CVS’ drugstores. Walgreens opened an Aspen Dental office in one of its Florida stores, with plans to open another this year. . . . more

Sears lost millions over the holiday season

Sears needed a great holiday shopping season, but the struggling retailer missed the mark.

The company lost $318 million in November and December, according to financial results filed by the company.
Much of the losses came from bankruptcy reorganizaton, which cost about $249 million across the two months. But even without the bankruptcy costs, the struggling retailer lost about $69 million during the two-month period.. . . more

Virtual reality theme park eyes major U.S. markets — Boston included

Boston Business Journal
A virtual reality theme park developer wants a piece of several major markets, and it’s perfectly happy to take vacated big-box stores to get it. Actually, those are exactly what it's looking for.

D. Legends Holdings Pte Ltd., a Singapore-based creator of indoor virtual reality parks, has retained Old Bridge, New Jersey-based R.J. Brunelli & Co. Inc. to broker its entry into the U.S. market, per a release. The Legend Heroes Park concept combines virtual and augmented reality technologies with physical movement “for an immersive experience,” the release states. 

In the U.S., the company is seeking big-box locations in major markets including New York, Atlanta, Orlando, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia and D.C.. . . more

Subway's Unit Count Drops in 'Optimization Plan'

QSR Magazine
Subway’s “optimization plan,” shared last year, has been driven primarily by remodels and relocations. Or as the chain said in a statement to QSR Monday, “having the best restaurants in the best locations to drive restaurant profitability”—a strategy, along with its franchise owners, the company said it’s focused on moving forward.

After reducing its U.S. count by 866 restaurants from 2016–2017, Subway has now dipped below 25,000 in the U.S., the company said. That's roughly an 1,000-store drop from the 25,908 Subway closed 2017 with.. . . more

Tom's Urban is Out to Reimagine the Eatertainment Segment

FSR Magazine
The term “eatertainment,” often conjures up images of arcades, bowling alleys, bocce courts, and golf clubs. But Tom’s Urban views the experiential-dining experience through a different lens. In an industry where many bar and grill chains can’t get the TVs off the walls fast enough, Tom’s Urban is taking the reverse course: Give guests “screen play” they can’t ignore.

Currently, the locations are at L.A. Live; Mohegan Sun in Connecticut; Ilani Casino in Washington; Las Vegas, and the Denver airport spot. . . . more

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

A Penney saved?

Retail Dive
Over the holidays, a time of consumer spending strength that lifted most, a few unlucky retailers — including Tiffany & Co., Macy's and Nordstrom — suffered disappointing numbers. J.C. Penney was also in that sad group, as its holiday comps tumbled 3.5% (5.4% without a sales timing shift), but it's facing an even more alarming truth — that its seasonal weakness may be less of a disappointment only because it wasn't much of a surprise.

It's been a long haul for the 110-year-old discount department store, which just recently welcomed yet another new chief executive, former Joann chief Jill Soltau, after Marvin Ellison left last summer to take over at Lowe's. . . . more

Giant Food Stores debuts new concept for online delivery

Chain Store Age
Giant Food Stores is using a new brick-and-mortar concept to expand its digital strategy with the opening of an innovative e-commerce hub.

The supermarket operator will debut its first-ever Giant Direct, Powered by Peapod facility on Feb. 12, in Lancaster, Pa. Done in partnership with Peapod Digital labs, the 38,000-sq.-ft. location will focus on the delivery of online orders. It will offer a pickup option, with online orders delivered directly to customer vehicles that have pulled up outside.. . . more

Coffee café brews up expansion

Chain Store Age
PJ’s Coffee surpassed 100 locations by the end of 2018. It plans to open an additional 30 stores by the end of this year.

PJ’s Coffee awarded 22 franchises representing 37 licenses 2018. It opened 17 new stores, one of which marked PJ’s Coffee’s presence in Maryland and the northeast. . . . more

Average lease lengths drop to 4.5 years for general retail in malls

Chain Store Age
It’s a renter’s market in malls these days. In-line tenants are asking for shorter leases and getting them.

A CoStar study found leases for general retail and apparel tenants have fallen from an average of six years in the five-year period ending in 2007 to 4.5 years in the most recent period. Lease lengths for non-traditional tenants, meanwhile, have risen to an average of 5.6 years. . . . more

With no Toys ‘R’ Us, toys sales dip

Chain Store Age
The absence of Toys “R” Us from the retail landscape impacted toys sales — but not as much as had been feared.

U.S. retail sales of toys generated $21.6 billion in 2018, down 2% from $22.0 billion in 2017, according to The NPD Group. The decline came after four straight years of growth in the toy industry.. . . more

GameStop Ends Effort to Sell Itself, Sending Stock Plunging

GameStop Corp. said it has stopped an effort to sell itself, citing a lack of available financing at terms a buyer would find acceptable. The shares tanked 22 percent in early U.S. trading.

The retailer started a strategic review in June and sold its Spring Mobile business as part of that process. GameStop said it is continuing its search for a permanent chief executive officer.. . . more

Amazon Go vs. Dollar Stores: The Bifurcation Of Retail Deepens
The tech-infused, convenience-oriented future of U.S. retail is only half the story — the upper-income half.

As U.S. income and net worth inequality widens, retailers who sell to lower-income Americans, particularly dollar stores, are also going to continue to flourish.. . . more

Monday, January 28, 2019

Robust Holiday Retail Sales Bring Glad Tidings to U.S. Shopping Center Industry

REBusiness Online
As 2018 wound to an end, the national unemployment rate hovered just under 4 percent, consumer confidence hit an 18-year high and wage growth reached a nine-year high.

Those positive economic signs helped set the table for a robust holiday shopping season, according to Cushman & Wakefield’s fourth-quarter snapshot of the U.S. shopping center market. . . . more

Nearly 30% of shoppers applied for a store credit card over the holidays

Retail Dive
Nearly three in ten Americans applied for a store credit card during the 2018 holiday season, according to a report.

Thirty-two percent of people who applied were not approved. Of those who were approved, nearly half said they would pay off their card in one month or less.

Younger millennials (ages 22 to 29) were the largest demographic to apply for store cards, but they were also more likely to be rejected, according to the report. . . . more

New Job for Robots: Taking Stock for Retailers

The Wall Street Journal
Retailers that have been turning to robots to handle inventory in warehouses are testing whether machines can handle a new task: detecting when store shelves need restocking.

Keeping track of inventory and doing it quickly has become one of the most pressing supply-chain concerns for merchants as they try to put into place new strategies for selling and delivering goods under the fast-changing demands of e-commerce.. . . more

Study: Amazon dominates e-commerce branding

Chain Store Age
Amazon is as popular with brands as with consumers, according to a new study.

“Brands & Amazon: Insights, Opportunities, and Concerns in the Age of E-commerce,” a survey of business leaders from major U.S. brands by e-commerce optimization company Feedvisor, indicates that more than half (54%) of brands are already selling on Amazon. Nearly three-quarters (72%) will be selling on Amazon within the next five years.. . . more

Walmart’s exit from Google Express brings up questions about the marketplace’s future

Google Express, Google’s six-year-old online marketplace, could be in danger of burning out.

After selling on the platform for just under two years, Walmart last week stopped selling through it, leading to questions about Google Express’ longer-term future as an e-commerce marketplace. To analysts, Walmart’s pullout could be the first of a range of brands that will eventually leave the platform, but it could open up opportunities for smaller sellers.. . . more

Global retail developer Gazit buys Newbury Street property for $51M

Boston Business Journal
Gazit Globe Ltd., an owner, developer and operator of retail property across the globe, is expanding its Boston portfolio with a purchase on Newbury Street.

The company has acquired 341 Newbury St., a six-story, 49,000-square-foot building, for $51 million. The property is leased to Japanese clothing retailer Uniqlo and boutique fitness studio SLT, and also includes a 98-space parking garage.. . . more

Friday, January 25, 2019

Things Remembered reportedly mulls bankruptcy, store closures

Retail Dive
Mall-based retailer Things Remembered is preparing to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and close most of its 400 stores, Reuters reports, citing unnamed sources. The company has hired investment bank Miller Buckfire & Co, owned by Stifel Financial and restructuring lawyers at Kirkland & Ellis, according to the report.

The retailer, founded 40 years ago to sell engraved gifts, was acquired in 2012 by private equity firm Madison Dearborn from two other PE firms, according to a press release. Madison Dearborn exited that investment in 2017, the firm told Retail Dive in an email. The company is now backed by a consortium that includes private equity firm KKR, which was involved in a 2016 restructuring, according to Reuters.. . . more

Former Toys ‘R’ Us execs planning potential comeback

New York Post
Former executives at Toys ‘R’ Us — which liquidated all of its US stores last year — began actively reaching out to toy manufacturers this week to discuss a comeback plan for the brand, The Post has learned.

According to an email obtained by The Post, a new firm called Tru Kids Inc. was launched on Sunday, armed with the ownership rights to the Toys ‘R’ Us and Babies ‘R’ Us trademarks, as well as the company’s Geoffrey the Giraffe mascot.. . . more

Which Supermarket Anchor Do You Want in Your Center?

If you ask any shopper which shopping center he or she visits most often, chances are the answer will be a grocery-anchored shopping center.

This retail property type typically offers a variety of convenience-oriented co-tenants including pharmacies, dry cleaners, health clubs, medical offices, banks, restaurants, and others that serve the daily needs of nearby residents.. . . more

Starbucks brews up strong first quarter

Chain Store Age
Starbucks Corp. came out of the gate running in its first quarter, with sales and earnings that beat Street estimates.

Total net revenues rose 9.2% to $6.6 billion, beating Street estimates of $6.5 billion.

Global same-store sales increased 4%, driven by a 3% increase in average ticket. Americas and U.S. comparable store sales increased 4%, with transactions flat. Same-store sales in China increased 1%, with transactions down 2%. . . . more

David’s Bridal looks to expand offerings after bankruptcy

Chain Store Age
David’s Bridal is revving up its engine after having successfully emerged from bankruptcy protection.

The wedding apparel and accessory company has expanded its assortment of new styles and is making them available in a wider range of sizes (from 0 to 30) in stores for customers to try on.. . . more

Brands Invent New Lines for Only Amazon to Sell

The Wall Street Journal
To build a big line of exclusive products on its site, Inc. is pushing other brand manufacturers to do most of the work.

The online retail giant is asking consumer-goods companies to create brands exclusively for Amazon after finding that developing them on its own is too costly and time-consuming, according to people familiar with the strategy. . . . more

Restaurant Approved for Former Sears Auto Center Location at Burlington Mall
The first restaurant of the Burlington Mall’s renovation project of the former Sears and Sears Automotive Center has been given the green light.

Last Thursday the Planning Board a special permit for CAVA Mezze Grill that will be located in the new 35,000 square feet restaurant and retail building planned for the former auto center. According to paperwork filed with the town the restaurant will occupy 2,545 square feet of the building and have seasonal outdoor patio seating.. . . more

Ex-Sears CEO: The embattled chain probably won’t survive if retail bankruptcy history is any guide

The odds are stacked against billionaire investor Eddie Lampert and his $5 billion-plus effort to resurrect Sears from bankruptcy, former Sears Chairman and CEO Alan Lacy told CNBC Thursday.

“Obviously, many people have said it, it’s doubtful and unlikely that a retailer that goes into a Chapter 11 process comes out of it and stays out of it,” he said on “Squawk on the Street.” “It’s rare that that’s happened in retail bankruptcy history.”. . . more

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Ex-Sears CEO Eddie Lampert orchestrated 'scheme' to 'steal' Sears, creditors allege

USA Today
Longtime Sears boss and investor Eddie Lampert orchestrated a "multiyear and multifaceted scheme" to strip the company of assets and capitalize on its decline, a group of the retailer's major creditors alleged.

Lampert, who remains chairman of Sears and was CEO until the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in October, presided over the closure of more than 3,500 stores and the loss of about 250,000 jobs, according to a scathing filing Wednesday by unsecured creditors.

The creditors are hoping to persuade a federal judge to force Sears to liquidate instead of accepting the latest offer by Lampert's hedge fund ESL Investments to keep a shrunken version of the company alive.. . . more

Foot Locker brings new store format to the U.S.

Chain Store Age
Foot Locker has brought its community-centered “power store” concept stateside.

The athletic footwear and apparel retailer’s power store format will make its U.S. debut on Friday, Jan. 25, in Eastpointe, Mich., which is in the Metro Detroit area. The 8,500-sq.-ft. plus store offers a wide range of footwear, apparel and accessories for men, women and kids along with such features as a women’s shop-in-shop and a Kids Foot Locker.. . . more

CRE Investors Can Still Profit from Retail Real Estate—If They Stick with Service-Oriented Tenants

The high probability of more interest rate increases by the Federal Reserve, and other developments—ranging from geopolitical uncertainty, U.S. political gridlock and U.S.-China trade friction to sliding stock market performance—that made headlines during the recently holiday season are continuing to do so this year.

With so many sources of potential market volatility threatening investors, U.S. real estate remains a relatively safe asset where investors can protect their capital and receive risk-adjusted returns across different market conditions. . . . more

Ten predictions for the retail industry

Chain Store Age
Digitally native brands will continue to gain market share from traditional retailers, helped by their ability to deliver a highly personalized customer experience.

That’s one of AlixPartners’ 10 predictions for the retail industry.

“The consumer has never been more important, or opinionated, than now,” the firm stated. “Not only are there unending buying choices available, but the explosion of digitally native business models, unprecedented speed of delivery, and personalized experiences have changed the game. Meanwhile, retailers are also trying to navigate a tricky political and economic climate.”  . . . more

Does J.C. Penney Have a Viable Turnaround Plan? Retail Analysts Want to See Concrete Measures

J.C. Penney is far from out of the woods as it attempts yet another turnaround.

The ailing Plano, Texas-based department store chain reported falling sales and more store closings recently, while key executive positions still remain vacant. Just as unsettling for many analysts is the fact that the retailer still hasn’t announced tangible plans for a turnaround.. . . more

What has six wheels and makes Amazon deliveries?

Chain Store Age
Autonomous delivery vehicles are all the rage these days, and Amazon is never one to miss out on a technology trend.

Amazon’s forays into autonomous aerial delivery with drones are well-known, but now the omnichannel giant is taking the concept to the ground. Amazon has developed a new, proprietary, fully-electric delivery system known as Amazon Scout. Scout devices are described by Amazon as being the size of a “small cooler” and traveling on sidewalks at a “walking pace.”. . . more

Enfield Square sold to Long Island-based mall company

Hartford Courant
The $11.4 million sale of the Enfield Square mall, which had been in decline for years, has now been finalized and the new owner is the Long Island-based Namdar Realty Group.

Namdar owns and operates more than 37 million square feet of commercial real estate across the U.S., including large retail malls, shopping centers, office and medical buildings.. . . more

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Sale of Papa Gino’s, D’Angelo parent to Wynnchurch Capital approved

Boston Business Journal
Wynnchurch Capital LLC, a private equity investment firm with offices in Chicago, Los Angeles and Toronto, on Wednesday received court approval to buy the parent company of Papa Gino’s Pizzeria and D’Angelo Grilled Sandwiches chains.

The Dedham-based parent company, PGHC Holdings Inc., operates 141 restaurants in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Connecticut. In November 2018, a day after closing dozens of restaurants, the company filed for bankruptcy protection.. . . more

The top emerging risk facing companies is…

Chain Store Age
Companies are increasingly at risk due to escalating staff shortages.

Concerns about “talent shortages” outweighed all others in Gartner’s most recent quarterly “Emerging Risks Survey.” Sixty-three percent of respondents indicated that a talent shortage was a key concern for their organization. The report revealed that retail and hospitality sectors showed particularly high levels of concern in this area, with more than two-thirds of respondents signaling it as one of their top five risks.. . . more

Canadian athletic apparel brand continues brick-and-mortar expansion

Chain Store Age
RYU Apparel Inc. continues to build out its fledgling store portfolio.

The Vancouver-based brand, which specializes in stylish athletic tech apparel for men and women, has opened a store at Fashion Island, Newport Beach, Calif. The new location is RYU – which stands for Respect Your Universe – Apparel’s ninth store to date. The company’s other U.S. locations include New York City and Venice, Calif. In Canada, it operates two stores in Toronto and four in its home base.. . . more

Target’s new payment options include Apple Pay, Google Pay

Chain Store Age
Target customers nationwide will have a lot of new ways to electronically make purchases.

Target will soon start allowing customers to complete transactions via the Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay mobile payment apps. In addition, the discount giant will accept contactless cards from Mastercard, Visa, American Express and Discover. The new payment methods will be available in all 1,850 U.S. Target stores.. . . more

Amazon’s Pitch to Woo Shippers: Fewer Fees Than FedEx, UPS

The Wall Street Journal Inc., which is rolling out its own delivery network, is trying to poach shippers from FedEx Corp. and United Parcel Service Inc. by targeting a common complaint: fuel surcharges and extra fees that drive up the cost of home deliveries.

Amazon recently expanded its nascent home-delivery service, called Amazon Shipping, beyond test markets in London and Los Angeles. The online retailer is offering to pick up shipments from merchants’ warehouses and deliver them directly to shoppers, The Wall Street Journal has previously reported. The end-to-end service is part of Amazon’s quest to built up its own delivery network and handle more of the millions of items sold through its site. . . . more

Supermarket retailer Ahold Delhaize's Q4 sales meet expectations

Ahold Delhaize, the Dutch-Belgian supermarket operator, reported fourth-quarter sales in line with expectations on Wednesday, driven by strong online business in the Netherlands. 

In the United States, where Ahold is the largest online supermarket retailer and owns Stop & Shop and Food Lion, sales rose 2.7 percent. Online sales grew 12.1 percent at constant exchange rates, it said.

Ahold said in November it was seeking to bolster its U.S. operations through acquisitions, to help it take on competitors such as Kroger, Walmart and Amazon in the race to win online customers.. . . more

China will overtake the US as the world's biggest retail market this year

CNN Business
China's economy may be slowing down, but the country is still set to eclipse the United States as the world's top retail market for the first time.

Retail sales in China will reach more than $5.6 trillion this year, about $100 billion more than in the United States, according to research published Wednesday by consulting firm eMarketer. . . . more

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

J.C. Penney Struggles to Avoid Same Fate as Sears

The Wall Street Journal
J.C. Penney Co.’s  sales are falling, its stores are stuck in malls and the turnaround strategy keeps changing. Now, three months after the embattled retailer hired a new chief executive, a handful of senior positions remain vacant.

The series of events is prompting analysts and other industry experts to question whether Penney can avoid the fate of fellow department-store operator Sears Holdings Corp., which filed for bankruptcy and barely staved off liquidation.. . . more

Top trends driving retail store growth in 2019

Chain Store Age
It takes a human touch to help physical stores succeed in today’s digital world.

That’s according to a report by Retail Store Tours which, in a partnership with the NRF 2019 Retail’s Big Show, reviewed more than 1,000 stores in New York, Los Angeles and Las Vegas during the last 12 months and uncovered nine factors that are driving success in retail today.. . . more

Mickey Drexler steps down as chairman of J. Crew

Retail Dive
J. Crew announced on Friday the retirement of its chairman and former CEO Millard "Mickey" Drexler, according to a press release. Drexler is leaving the company to "devote his full time to the development of Drexler Ventures, LLC and other interests."

Chad Leat, who has served as a director of the company since 2017 and is a retired vice chairman of Global Banking at Citigroup, was elected to succeed Drexler as chairman. . . . more

Express CEO abruptly departs

Retail Dive
Express, Inc. on Tuesday announced the departure of CEO David Kornberg, who will also no longer serve as president or as a member of the board of directors, effective immediately.

He will remain employed by the company through Feb. 21, however. The board has appointed Matthew Moellering to serve as chief executive in the interim while a permanent CEO and president is appointed, according to a company press release.. . . more

Store closing sales begin at Gymboree, Crazy 8

Chain Store Age
Gymboree Group has begun winding down operations for the majority of its store portfolio.

The bankrupt retailer has begun store closing sales at its 798 Gymboree and Crazy 8 locations throughout the United States and Canada. Gift cards can be redeemed until February 16, 2019.

Gymboree filed for bankruptcy protection on January 19, and said it would shutter all its namesake and Crazy 8 stores. It is pursuing a sale for its higher-end, 139-store Janie and Jack brand, and also for Gymboree’s intellectual property and online platform.. . . more

Goodyear, Amazon, Pep Boys, NTB are modernizing how you buy tires

The Dallas Morning News
The landscape for tire shopping is changing quickly as brands look to improve the buying experience and capitalize on Sears closing many of its full-service auto centers.

Goodyear is trying out a new concept in Dallas that focuses exclusively on tires. Amazon is partnering with Pep Boys to get in on the brick-and-mortar experience. And NTB will come to your house to install tires.. . . more

Can HNW Investors Still Profit by Investing in Retail Real Estate?

We’re barely into 2019, and the shaky future of Sears continues to grab many of the big headlines in the retail sector. But that’s not the story that high-net-worth (HNW) investors should be following in terms of retail real estate.

Rather, experts advise, HNW investors should be evaluating retail prospects based on geography and strategy—not on Sears-level machinations in the retail sector.. . . more

Starbucks delivery service coming for Boston coffee drinkers

Boston Herald
Starbucks is expanding its delivery service and aims to offer it at nearly one-fourth of its U.S. company-operated coffee shops.

The company said it is launching the service Tuesday in San Francisco and will expand to some stores in New York, Boston, Washington, Chicago and Los Angeles in coming weeks. It tested the idea in 200 Miami stores last fall.. . . more

Friday, January 18, 2019

Federal regulators object to Nine West bankruptcy plan

Retail Dive
The Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. Trustee for the New York Region on Jan. 11 each filed objections to the bankruptcy plan proposed by Nine West Holdings, according to court documents filed at the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York.

At issue are releases within the plan that William Harrington, U.S. Trustee for Region 2, said improperly shield professionals — consultants, financial advisers and others — from claims of "fraud, gross negligence, or willful misconduct" and serve as "merely a backdoor to administrative expenses," according to his filing.. . . more

Sears gets saved but still same ol' retailer

FOX Business
Former Sears CEO Eddie Lampert is on a mission to save the bankrupt retailer, but even if his latest bid to keep hundreds of stores open receives approval, there remains a rough road ahead for the once-iconic department store chain.

Lampert’s revamped $5.2 billion bid – submitted through his hedge fund ESL Investments – to keep hundreds of stores open and prevent the 126-year old retailer from liquidating still faces approval in bankruptcy court – but a judge is far from the final hurdle the businessman faces to keep the retailer alive.. . . more

Walmart keeps expanding online grocery delivery

Chain Store Age
When it comes to delivering online grocery orders, Walmart is taking a “more the merrier” approach.

Walmart is adding four new companies to its rapidly growing roster of online grocery delivery providers. Point Pickup, Skipcart, AxleHire and Roadie will help support Walmart’s online grocery deliveries in more than 100 metro areas across four states, with further expansion planned in the coming weeks. Walmart grocery delivery is available in more than 800 stores, with another 800 stores and more than 200 new metro areas being added this year.. . . more

GameStop Jumps on Strong U.S. Holiday Sales Numbers

The Street
Video game retailer GameStop rose 1.5% in trading after reporting strong holiday season sales in the U.S., though overall results were weighed down by weakness in the international market.

The Grapevine, Texas-based company reported total global sales for the nine-week holiday period ended Jan. 5, of $2.63 billion. Total comparable-store sales increased 1.5%, including a 3.6% jump in the U.S. . . . more

Zales and Kay Parent Signet Hints at Store Closings After Weak Holiday Season

Signet Jewelers, the owner of the Kay Jewelers, Zales and Jared chains, on Thursday reported weak holiday sales and hinted that it will speed up store closings, a disappointing development for a retailer in what was a strong consumer spending environment over the holidays. MasterCard Spending Pulse recently estimated U.S. retail sales rose 5.1% during that period. For jewelry, the figure was a 3.7% jump.

But Signet said sales at stores open for at least 12 months fell 1.3% in the nine weeks ended January 5. Signet pointed to “reduced traffic during key December gifting weeks.” Its higher end Jared chain, which operates outside of malls in stand-alone stores, saw the worst of it with comparable sales down 8%.. . . more

Sears creditors object to Eddie Lampert’s winning bid, call it part of ‘years-long scheme’

A group of Sears creditors are challenging Chairman Eddie Lampert’s hedge fund’s winning $5.2 billion bid to buy the business in a bankruptcy auction and wants to air their grievances in court.

Sears creditors contend that Lampert has painted himself as the savior of the company, but has instead made a series of moves over the years that have benefited himself and his hedge fund ESL.. . . more

Domino's wants to build 2,000 more US locations

Restaurant Business
Domino’s is planning a major development push in the U.S. in the next several years as the pizza chain hopes to protect its market share from competitors and third-party delivery services.

The Ann Arbor, Mich.-based pizza giant told analysts on Thursday that it could build another 2,000 stores in the U.S. over the next seven to eight years as part of a “fortressing” strategy to build more carryout sales and improve the quality of delivery. . . . more

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Boston storefront near TD Garden zoned for cannabis retail

Boston 25 News
The City of Boston could have its first recreational pot shop by the end of the year. The city's zoning board just approved the site on Friend Street near the TD Garden and North Station.

A company called Ascend Cannabis plans to break ground there next month.

The company still needs to receive the necessary approval from the state's Cannabis Control Commission.. . . more

2018 was a great year for retail, 2019 is another story

Retail Dive
After a healthy year that wiped away the notion of a “retail apocalypse,” 2019 is promising to be a year of transition amid economic and geopolitical uncertainty, and as pure-plays and other disruptive brands continue to take share, according to Deloitte's 2019 Retail Outlook, which was emailed to Retail Dive.

That also comes as back operations continue to compress, with fashion cycles shortening and supply chains speeding up, for example, and as the consumer demands convenience, Deloitte said.. . . more

Macy's on the brink

Retail Dive
After initiating a turnaround plan that entailed shuttering some 100 stores nationwide, bringing up a well-prepared insider to take over as chief executive, investing in avant-garde retail ideas and store concepts and joining the off-price party, Macy's delivered bad news last week: Holiday 2018 was pretty much a bust.

The department store's November/December comparable sales on an owned plus licensed basis rose 1.1% (owned merchandise rose 0.7%) and e-commerce grew in double digits, but the real problem was that it couldn't sustain momentum after strong Black Friday sales. Investors have punished the retailer for its failure to partake of a Christmas week that buoyed many others, propped up by strength in the economy and consumer confidence.. . . more

Is Selling Family Dollar a Realistic Solution for its Troubles?

Major changes could be on the horizon for Dollar Tree, a publicly-traded Fortune 500 company and one of the biggest dollar store chains in the country.

The retailer has been struggling to revamp its Family Dollar-branded stores since it acquired the chain in 2015 for roughly $8.5 billion. The ailing banner has weighed down Dollar Tree as it continues to deliver weak sales and margin performance.. . . more

Whole Foods reportedly puts breaks on its 365 store concept

Chain Store Age
It appears that Whole Foods Market has decided not to expand its smaller-store format.

Whole Foods CEO John Mackey told employees that the company will not open any new Whole Foods Market 365 stores, according to an internal email reviewed and reported by Yahoo Finance. The existing 12 stores will remain up and running, including its newest location, which opened in Atlanta in December.. . . more

Target is making a bigger bet on baby

Without Babies R Us, Target sees an opportunity to double down on its own baby business.

The retailer is expanding its in-house brand Cloud Island, which currently sells items like crib sheets, stuffed animals and baby bath toys, to include essential items like diapers, wipes, toiletries, utensils and bowls. The launch of about 30 new items happens Monday. . . . more

Gymboree Will Go Out of Business After Turnaround Plan Fails

Gymboree Group Inc. will shut down after going bankrupt a second time, the victim of falling mall traffic and cheaper online sources of kids clothing.

The retailer filed for protection from creditors owed about $212 million in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, according to a statement late Wednesday. The San Francisco-based company, which operates 945 stores under three brands in the U.S. and Canada, plans to close its Gymboree and Crazy 8 chains after failing to find anyone willing to buy them, court papers show. A unit of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is leading bids for Gymboree’s higher-end Janie and Jack business. . . . more

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Shopko files Chapter 11

Retail Dive
Shopko announced on Wednesday that it has filed for Chapter 11 in the District of Nebraska. The company is pursuing restructuring as a result of "excess debt and ongoing competitive pressures," the company stated in a press release.

Shopko, which is owned by private equity firm Sun Capital, will also close an additional 38 stores, relocate over 20 Optical centers to freestanding locations and will conduct an auction for its pharmacy operations. Shopko said in a letter to customers that remaining stores will be open during restructuring.. . . more

Dry Goods expanding its store portfolio

Chain Store Age
The specialty fashion retailer owned by Von Maur Department Store is ramping up store expansion.

Dry Goods said it will open 19 stores in 2019, giving it a total of 58 locations nationwide. The openings will see the retailer enter seven new states — Kansas, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota and Tennessee — and expand its footprint to 58 locations. In 2018, Dry Goods opened 12 stores.. . . more

Shoe retailer Payless to explore options, including sale

Chain Store Age
U.S. discount retailer Payless ShoeSource has hired an advisor to help evaluate strategic alternatives, including a sale or restructuring, less than 18 months after it emerged from bankruptcy, people familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

The action underscores the efforts Payless is making to avoid a second bankruptcy, as the popularity of online shopping on websites such as continues to challenge the viability of many brick-and-mortar retailers.. . . more

Nordstrom shares tumble on disappointing holiday sales

Nordstrom shares tumbled more than 7 percent Wednesday after the retailer said sales at its full-price stores were “below expectations” this holiday season and that it would need to use promotions to get rid of excess inventory.

The news, which was reported Tuesday evening, resulted in two Wall Street analysts downgrading Nordstrom’s stock, calling out the weak trends at Nordstrom’s core department store business. Nordstrom’s off-price Rack stores have, meanwhile, been performing more in line with expectations. . . . more

After a Strong 2018 for Retail Sales, Caution Flags Pop Up

The Wall Street Journal
The Commerce Department, normally scheduled to publish retail-sales data Wednesday morning, won’t release the figures due to the government shutdown. Still, some private-sector analysts who track the retail sector estimate that Americans stepped up their spending in November and December, crucial months that include Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday and Christmas, but voice caution about 2019.

Some retailers are preparing for consumer spending to weaken, even if there is no sign it will happen soon, said Rod Sides, vice chairman of retail at Deloitte. The firm’s clients are looking to cut costs, he said. “Retailers are going to have to spend 2019 figuring out what they do when the tide goes out.” . . . more

Sears staves off liquidation, stores to remain open

AP News
Sears will live on— at least for now.

The company’s chairman and largest shareholder, Eddie Lampert, won a bankruptcy auction for Sears, averting liquidation of the iconic chain, according to a source familiar with the negotiations. The person agreed to speak on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the negotiation publicly.

Lampert is the only one to put out a bid for the whole company. The 56-year-old billionaire had sweetened his bid to more than $5 billion over the last few days through an affiliate of his hedge fund ESL. Details of the final terms couldn’t be learned.. . . more

INDOCHINO to Launch up to 20 New Showrooms in 2019
INDOCHINO, the global leader in custom apparel, has announced its 2019 North American expansion plans. Following an incredible year of growth in 2018, the company intends to open up to 20 showrooms in North America, expand further into new product categories and start analysis for international expansion.

INDOCHINO will focus 2019 retail growth on the East and West Coasts of the United States. Six showrooms are confirmed to open in the East, with Brooklyn, Greenwich, Manhasset and Paramus in the Tri-State area as well as a second Boston location . . . more

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The new ‘power shopper’ is…

Chain Store Age
Who says men don’t like to shop?

Men are shopping more frequently in-store and online than women according to a new report, The Arrival of the New Male Power Shopper, by global technology firm First Insight. The company, which surveyed consumers on shopping habits, purchase behavior and influences driving decisions, found that 53% of men reported shopping on Amazon six or more times a month, compared to only 45% of female respondents. Further, 60% of men (versus 52% of women) say that their Amazon purchases have increased in the last year.. . . more

J.C. Penney CEO assembles a team as Fitch downgrades

Retail Dive
Several analysts hailed former Joann chief Soltau's arrival in October, but the newness of her tenure is introducing a level of uncertainty that contributed to the retailer's downgrade Monday, Fitch said.

"As a result of recent operating weakness and new leadership, the company's near-term direction and strategy is unclear," Fitch said. "The prior management team [under Marvin Ellison] had made decisions over the past 24 months including getting into appliances and mattresses in order to take share away from some [of] its distressed peers. However, new management could decide on a different course for the company to stem sales and EBITDA declines.". . . more

Stage Stores ramping up off-price store conversion program

Chain Store Age
Stage Stores is going off-price in a big way.

The department store retailer announced it will convert approximately 220 additional department stores to its Gordmans off-price banner by the middle of 2020, starting with some 70 stores this year. The 2019 conversions will occur predominantly in the smaller, Midwestern markets where the company said it has seen outstanding results to date.. . . more

Sears Is Said to Extend Talks on Lampert's Plan to Rescue Chain

Yahoo Finance
Talks on the latest Sears takeover bid from Chairman Eddie Lampert are extending into Tuesday as stakeholders try to reach an agreement on whether Sears Holdings Corp. should live on.

The discussions lasted for over 12 hours on Monday before the parties decided to reconvene at 9 a.m. today in New York. Negotiators initially didn’t embrace Lampert’s revised rescue plan for the bankrupt retailer, but they were concentrating on his proposal rather than competing bids from liquidators, according to people with knowledge of the discussions. . . . more

Giant Food Stores will place robotic assistants at 172 locations, company says

The Washington Post
He goes by the name “Marty.”

Tall, slow-moving and gray, he has big cartoonish eyes that disguise something unique about the newest employee at Giant Food Stores: Marty is deliberate and relentless, and — unlike his fellow employees — he has the ability to work a seemingly endless number of hours without pay.. . . more

Gymboree reportedly set to file for bankruptcy

Chain Store Age
Gymboree Corp. is reportedly very close to its second Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in less than two years.

The children’s apparel retailer is expected to file for bankruptcy protection as soon as this week, reported CNBC. As part of the process, Gymboree expects to shutter nearly all of the roughly 900 stores it operates under its three banners, the report said.. . . more

Monday, January 14, 2019

Shaw’s supermarket in Portsmouth, 3 others in Mass., to close
Shaw’s supermarkets in New Hampshire and Massachusetts will be closing in the near future, company officials confirmed on Monday.

The Woodbury Avenue location in Portsmouth will be closing, though no date has been announced.

Three locations in Massachusetts -- in Leominster, Lynn and Plymouth -- will also be closing.. . . more

Strong Economy Can’t Save Macy’s From Retail Shifts

The Wall Street Journal
Macy’s Inc. and other mall-based retailers said sales petered out at the end of the year as they continued to lose customers to discounters and e-commerce, highlighting how not all chains are positioned to benefit from a strong U.S. economy.

The year-end results—and a weak profit outlook from Macy’s—clouded what have been upbeat expectations for the holiday sales season with consumers showing a hearty willingness to spend. . . . more

Debt-Burdened P.F. Chang’s Reportedly Sold

FSR Magazine
P.F. Chang’s is officially on the move again. The Chinese chain entered into an agreement to be sold to TriArtisan Capital Partners LLC and Paulson & Co. Inc, according to a private notice sent to investors and reported on by Bloomberg News. Bloomberg revealed Monday that the company was near a sale for about $700 million from its current owner, Centerbridge Partners LP.

Per the notice, the deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2019.. . . more

Giant Sets 'Heirloom' Opening in Philadelphia

Winsight Grocery Business
Giant Food Stores has set Jan. 25 as the opening date for its Heirloom Market urban, small-format concept in Philadelphia.

The company said the 9,500-square-footstore would blend “modern innovation and community focus” in an interpretation of full-line stores that are typically five times larger. The store will feature local suppliers such as High Street on Market, Isgro Pastries, One Village Coffee and Sarcone’s Bakery.. . . more

Sears bankruptcy raises old questions about cost of going broke

Sears has survived the Great Depression and world wars. Whether the 126-year-old retailer stays afloat or goes out of business now hinges in part on paying for the enormous bill piled up by going broke.

The fate of Sears Holdings Corp highlights a harsh reality of U.S. bankruptcy - it requires armies of pricey specialists in a system driven by an outcome, not costs.. . . more

Bed Bath & Beyond's stores have been called 'a mess,' but the chain might be starting to turn that around

Business Insider
Bed Bath & Beyond's effort to clean up its stores seems to be making headway.

Its stores have been criticized in the past for being crammed with product, which has lead at least one analyst to call them a "mess."

"They are a hodge-podge of product, tightly crammed into a space that is largely devoid of inspiration. This makes them hard and sometimes unpleasant to shop," analyst Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail, told CNBC in an email in 2018.. . . more

Win or lose, Sears’ chairman may still come out on top

Boston Herald
As Sears teeters on the brink of collapse, one man stands at the center of the fight for the future of the iconic retailer.

Eddie Lampert plays several often-conflicting roles in what could be the final chapter for the company that began as a mail order watch business 132 years ago. He’s been chairman, CEO, landlord, lender, and largest shareholder — all at the same time. If the company survives, he wins. If it ends up liquidating, he also wins.. . . more

Friday, January 11, 2019

Online holiday sales surge 17.4% and reach $122 billion

Digital Commerce 360
Internet Retailer estimates this is a 17.4% increase over the 2017 holiday season in November-December, when shoppers spent $103.88 billion.

Internet Retailer also estimates that total retail holiday sales increased 5.6% year over year and reached $719.77 billion for the 2018 holiday season, up from $681.61 billion last year. This means that e-commerce sales represented 16.9% of total retail sales during the holiday period up from 15.2% last year, according to Internet Retailer.. . . more

Gap to close store at CambridgeSide Galleria

Boston Business Journal
Gap Inc. will close its store at the CambridgeSide Galleria mall in East Cambridge on Jan. 28, a representative from the company has confirmed.

The Gap at CambridgeSide is located on the mall’s third floor, where New England Development plans to convert 140,000 square feet of retail into office space. It’s not clear whether the Gap store will be part of that renovation, or whether the store was among the mall locations Gap CEO Art Peck said would close.. . . more

Chico's to close 250 stores over 3 years

Retail Dive
Chico's FAS on Friday announced a "retail fleet optimization plan" that will shutter 250 stores over the next three years and include a review of the company's operations, according to a company press release. As of November, the company operated about 1,400 stores in the U.S. and Canada.

Looking ahead, the company said that comps are trending better than its previous outlook. By brand, fourth quarter comps for Chico's are in line with expectations, while White House Black Market comps are exceeding and Soma sales are well above expectations.. . . more

By the numbers: How holiday sales are panning out

Retail Dive
The holidays are always important to retailers' full-year results, and this year yielded a boom. Not even emerging signs of some weakness in the economy and in consumer confidence did much to keep holiday shoppers from spending.

Several retailers reaped the benefits, but it wasn't a simple matter of opening doors or even massively discounting. Those that overhauled stores to entice and delight shoppers, and made it easy to shop on or offline, tended to get the sale. By contrast, retailers offering less-than-delightful experiences missed out. That could be a problem for them this year, when consumers look to have less of an inclination or ability to spend.. . . more

Kohl’s to shutter four stores and a customer-service center

Chain Store Age
Kohl’s Corp. plans to close four “lower performing” stores this year, shutter its customer-service center in Dallas, and offer a retirement program to long-time employees 55 and older, reported Marketwatch, which cited a filing by the retailer late Thursday.

Kohl’s will close two locations in New York — in Rego Park and Valley Stream— along with one in Lenexa, Kan., and one in Houma, La., the report said. The stores are closing for “a variety of reasons, including real estate and other operational costs,” the company said in the filing. Kohl’s plans on opening four smaller stores, keeping the store count at 1,158.. . . more

PGA Tour Superstore ramping up store expansion

Chain Store Age
PGA Tour Superstore continues to expand its brick-and-mortar presence.

The experiential golf gear and apparel retailer said it will open at least six new stores in 2019, including its first ever in New England, as it accelerates its growth strategy to expand its brick-and-mortar presence by more than 50% during the next three years. The company currently operates 35 stores in 15 states across the United States.

PGA Tour Superstore’s 2019 locations include a store in Peabody, Mass., and one in Braintree, Mass., both of which will open in February. . . . more

Amazon eyes closed Sears stores for Whole Foods expansion

Yahoo Finance
While some traditional retailers are having a hard time keeping their doors open, Amazon-owned Whole Foods has been gearing up to rapidly expand into more regions.

Grocery chain Whole Foods is eyeing sites that were previously home to Sears, Kmart and other struggling retailers, sources told Yahoo Finance.. . . more

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Eddie Lampert Wants to Save Sears but Mall Owners Say Don’t Bother

The Wall Street Journal
Shopping center owners usually dread the prospect of a big retail operator shutting its doors. In the case of Sears Holdings Corp., many landlords are welcoming it.

That is in large part because these owners have lost faith in Sears chairman Eddie Lampert, his plans to salvage the company and a brand that they view as outdated, many big landlords and retail analysts say.. . . more

CVS Health set to unveil new, health-focused store format

Chain Store Age
Six weeks after CVS Health closed its acquisition of health insurer Aetna, efforts to integrate Aetna into the business are already underway.

CEO Larry Merlo said the company will open a a series of concept stores, which will serve as a testing ground for a new retail engagement model that brings healthcare services to consumers in a more convenient and accessible and consumer-focused manner. The first location will open in February, in Houston.. . . more

Costco's U.S. Same-Store Sales Rise 7.5% in December

Costco Wholesale Corp. said U.S. same-store sales in December rose 7.5%, while same sales for the total company jumped 6.1%.

The multinational warehouse club chain announced December net sales of $15.42 billion, an increase of 7.8% from $14.3 billion in the same period last year.. . . more

Kohl's stock sinks after holiday-period same-store sales growth decelerates

Kohl's Corp. raised its full-year profit outlook but reported a deceleration in holiday-period sales growth. Same-store sales for the November-to-December period rose 1.2% from a year ago, compared with growth of 6.9% in the same period last year.

The company said digital sales grew in the double-digit percentage range.. . . more

Fitch Ratings names retailers at ‘significant risk of default’

Chain Store Age
Retailers currently on Fitch’s ‘Top Loans of Concern’ list, which indicates a significant risk of default, include Neiman Marcus Group, Toms Shoes, Indra Holdings, Iconix Brand Group, NYDJ Apparel and Charlotte Russe. Retail accounts for 18% of the ‘Top Loans of Concern’ volume, the most of any sector. The 2018 default rate for U.S. retail leveraged loans was 4.7%, above the overall 1.75% rate, with $3 billion of volume.

Fitch’s ‘Top Loans of Concern’ list includes debt that has deeply speculative-grade ratings and discounted secondary market bid levels relative to par. Adverse market information or events and insight from sector analysts are also factors. . . . more

Macy's shares plunge as weak holiday sales prompt forecast cut

Shares of Macy’s Inc plunged 17 percent in early trading on Thursday, after the department store operator cut same-store sales forecast for the crucial holiday quarter due to weak demand during mid-December.

Sales from Macy’s stores and third-party licensees open for more than 12 months is now expected to grow about 2 percent, lower than a prior forecast of between 2.3 percent and 2.5 percent.. . . more

Target rings up strong holiday sales growth of 5.7 percent

Target Corp.’s sales rose sharply during the holidays, the company said this morning, outpacing rivals but leading investors to wonder whether price cuts eroded its profits.

Target’s comparable sales, those at stores open at least a year, soared 5.7 percent in November and December, fueling what’s likely to be the retailer’s biggest improvement in full-year sales since 2005. More people hit Target’s stores and shopped online, executives said. The average amount shoppers spent increased only slightly, however.. . . more

Lampert submits new bid for Sears, boosting chances retailer may dodge liquidation

Reuters/St Louis Post-Dispatch
Sears Holding Corp. Chairman Eddie Lampert submitted a revised roughly $5 billion takeover bid for the company on Wednesday, people familiar with the matter said, boosting the chances that the U.S. department store operator will escape liquidation.

In a concession, Lampert agreed to assume tax and vendor bills Sears has incurred since filing for bankruptcy protection in October, the sources said. His revised bid was submitted through an affiliate of his hedge fund, ESL Investments Inc., on Wednesday afternoon along with a $120 million deposit, the sources added.. . . more

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Amazon's new ad strategy: Free samples based on what it knows about you

Amazon is quietly piloting a program to let brands like Maybelline and Folgers pay to send free samples to consumers — all based on what the retail giant already knows they're likely to buy.

Why it matters: Turning free samples into new targeted ads plays to Amazon's strength as a trusted delivery service of everyday goods, something Americans already expect from the company. Amazon is betting the sample strategy is something its biggest competitors — Google and Facebook — can't match.. . . more

Sprouts to enter three new states

Supermarket News
Pushing ahead with its expansion, Sprouts Farmers Market plans to open nine new stores in the second quarter of 2019.

The fresh, natural and organic grocer said Tuesday that the openings will bring its stores into three new states: Louisiana, New Jersey and Virginia. Overall, the chain expects to open about 30 new stores in 2019, the same as in 2018.. . . more

Ocean State Job Lot Acquires 7 Closed Toys ‘R’ Us Stores

CBS Boston
Ocean State Job Lot is moving in to several shuttered Toys “R” Us locations. The Rhode Island-based discount retailer said Tuesday it has bought or leased seven former toy stores in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Pennsylvania.

In Massachusetts, Ocean State Job lot purchased a former Toys “R” Us location at 105 Campanelli Industrial Drive in Brockton and has leased the old store space at 492 State Road in North Dartmouth. Ocean State Job Lot also plans to open a new store at the closed Toys “R” Us in Salem, New Hampshire.. . . more

Sears to consider revised ESL bid

Retail Dive
Sears Holdings Chairman Eddie Lampert has bought yet more time to revise his $4.4 billion bid to keep the 126-year-old retailer running.

During a bankruptcy hearing on Tuesday, members of Sears Holdings' special committee on the issue said that after several days of "round-the-clock negotiations" they will allow Lampert's hedge fund, ESL Investments, to revise its bid ahead of the Jan. 14 bankruptcy auction. Another court hearing to confirm the results of that auction is scheduled for Jan. 31.

ESL is expected to formally submit that bid, along with a $120 million deposit, by 4 p.m. Wednesday. That money, of which $17.9 million is non-refundable, is the cash burn the company expects to lose ahead of the auction. . . . more

Survey: Personalization critical component of in-store experience

Chain Store Age
The 20th Annual POS/Customer Engagement Benchmark Survey from Boston Retail Partners shows 79% of consumer respondents said personalized service from a sales associate is an important factor in determining at which store they choose to shop. In turn, 53% of surveyed retailers indicated personalization is one of their top customer engagement priorities.

Survey results also demonstrate that in-store customers increasingly expect an omnichannel shopping experience. Sixty-three percent of surveyed consumers use their mobile phone while shopping in a store to compare prices, look for offers/coupons, check inventory availability, etc.. . . more

Walmart taps startup Udelv to test autonomous grocery deliveries in Arizona

More autonomous vehicles are poised to descend on Arizona. This time, Walmart has signed a deal with startup Udelv to test the use of autonomous vans to deliver online grocery orders to customers.

Under the agreement, Udelv will provide its second-generation autonomous delivery van, called the Newton, to Walmart to deliver groceries in Surprise, Arizona. The trial is set to begin in February, Udelv announced Tuesday at CES 2019.. . . more

J.C. Penney to close three stores as part of ongoing review

Chain Store Age
J.C. Penney on Tuesday gave a preliminary update on its holiday results and suggested some store closings are ahead.

The retailer said that its same-store sales for the combined nine-week period ending Jan. 5, 2019, decreased 3.5% on an adjusted basis.

Additionally, Penney said it will initiate three preliminary store closings this spring as part of an ongoing evaluation of its store portfolio that will occur during the next few months. . . . more

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Reports: Sears Reaches Temporary Deal to Avoid Bankruptcy, Will Keep 425 Stores Open

REBusiness Online
Sears Holdings Corp. (NASDAQ: SHLDQ) has reached a temporary deal to avoid bankruptcy and keep 425 of its stores open, according to media sources.

After it was widely speculated that Sears Chairman Eddie Lampert’s $4.4 billion bid to save the company would be rejected, representatives of Sears agreed Tuesday to a revised bid from Lampert’s hedge fund, ESL Investments, that gives the 126-year-old company another small shot at survival.. . . more

Amazon Go could become $4 billion business

Supermarket News
The sales opportunity for Amazon Go cashierless stores could top $4 billion by 2021 if reports on the high-tech retail concept’s expansion bear out, according to an RBC Capital Markets analysis.

In a research note, RBC estimated average annual sales of $1.5 million apiece for the current nine Amazon Go stores. A Bloomberg report in September said Inc. may open up to 3,000 Amazon Go outlets by 2021. Based on the per-store sales estimate by RBC, that would translate into a $4.5 billion business over the next several years.. . . more

10 retail trends to watch in 2019

Retail Dive
It was the best of retail times, it was the worst of retail times. Between historic bankruptcies, amazing advancements in technology, devastating consumer data breaches and a blockbuster end-of-year sales season, 2018 was a roller coaster for shoppers and retailers alike.

It also set the stage for the year ahead. Will stores be able to build off of the holiday season? Will more companies file for Chapter 11? What will the industry be buzzing about? . . . more

Time for Change at Dollar Tree

The Wall Street Journal
Four years ago, Dollar Tree beat Dollar General in the battle for Family Dollar, a chain of 8,200 stores that caters to low-income shoppers. Now the coveted asset is dragging down Dollar Tree’s sales and stock. It is time for management to cut their losses and let it go.

Dollar Tree bought the chain in the hopes of bulking up to better compete with Dollar General, Walmart , and Target . Back then, Dollar Tree was the smallest of the three chains with the “dollar” moniker and also, despite the name, not serving the same demographic niche as the other two. . . . more

Sears to serve as case study of ‘how not to run a retail operation’

Chain Store Age
Reports of Sears headed to liquidation suggest that the much-storied retailer is now at the end of its long road to collapse. Its recent journey to this point has been characterized by incredibly poor strategic decisions, chronic underinvestment, and continuous financial machinations designed to keep the company afloat. All of this impacted trading, which has remained dire, making Sears more like a patient in a coma than a fully functioning retailer.

While Eddie Lampert has worked hard to rescue the remains of his empire, there is simply not enough financial firepower left in the company to persuade investors of his bid. . . . more

Amazon brings delivery to the garage

Chain Store Age
Amazon started out in a garage, and is returning to its roots with a new delivery option.

As part of a new set of options for its Amazon Key “smart entry” program, Amazon is enabling Prime members in 37 select cities to accept deliveries in their garage. Amazon is integrating MyQ connected garage door opener technology from Chamberlain Group (CGI) with Amazon Key to create Key for Garage.. . . more

Wegmans readies to enter three new markets

Chain Store Age
Wegmans Food Markets is coming to the Big Apple.

The family-owned grocer will make its long-awaited debut in New York City this fall, with a 74,000-sq.-ft. store at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, in the Admirals Row development. Wegmans Brooklyn will feature a second-floor mezzanine with nearly 100 seats for the in-store market café. The mezzanine space also has a bar that will serve food, wine, beer, and spirits.. . . more

Sears to ask bankruptcy judge for approval to liquidate - sources

Sears Holdings Corp will ask a bankruptcy judge on Tuesday if it can proceed with liquidation after it could not reach an agreement on Chairman Edward Lampert’s $4.4 billion takeover bid, casting doubt on the survival of the 126-year-old U.S. department store chain, people familiar with the matter said.

Should Sears liquidate its assets, it would become one of the most high-profile victim in the wave of bankruptcies that has swept the retail sector in the last few years, as the popularity of online shopping exacerbates the fierce price competition facing brick-and-mortar stores.. . . more

Monday, January 7, 2019

WSJ: Charlotte Russe mulls sale, bankruptcy

Retail Dive
Mall-based teen retailer Charlotte Russe is reportedly considering a sale or bankruptcy, people familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal on Friday.

The retailer hired Guggenheim Securities recently to explore strategic alternatives, the sources told the Journal.

A bankruptcy could be avoided if the retailer can strike a deal that allows it to scale, potentially through a sale or partnership of some kind, one of the sources said.. . . more

US retail recovery under new scrutiny on Wall Street

Financial Times
The strength of the recovery in the US retail sector is under new scrutiny in spite of record-breaking holiday sales, as data show sliding footfall in stores, slowing rental growth at malls and stuttering demand for consumer electronics.

For the second festive period in a row, the number of consumers shopping in stores fell 3 per cent year-on-year, according to retail analytics group ShopperTrak, as millions of Americans opted to buy gifts online. . . . more

These 9 retail brands are the ones to watch in 2019

There’s a new class of retailers to pay attention to in 2019. And some of them could soon be opening up shop in your neighborhood.

As decades-old brands like Victoria’s Secret, Gap, Claire’s and Mattress Firm are shutting stores across the U.S., combating sluggish sales thanks to lack of innovation, a group up-and-coming retailers — many of them born on the internet — are starting to grow offline.. . . more

Bridal apparel retailer’s bankruptcy plan gets court approval

Chain Store Age
David’s Bridal is moving forward with its reorganization strategy.

The bridal apparel retailer announced late Friday that the United States Bankruptcy Court in the District of Delaware has approved its restructuring plan. According to the arranged deal, David’s Bridal will slash its debt-load by approximately $450 million, and continue selling wedding and special occasion dresses in a wide range of styles, colors, sizes, and prices.. . . more

Sears prepares for possible liquidation as Chairman Edward Lampert's bid fails

Chicago Tribune
Sears Holdings Corp. is preparing to potentially wind down the iconic retailer after Chairman Edward Lampert's bid to buy several hundred stores out of bankruptcy fell short of bankers' qualifications, people with knowledge of the matter said.

The retailer started laying the groundwork for a liquidation after meetings Friday in which its advisers weighed the merits of a $4.4 billion bid by Lampert's hedge fund to buy Sears as a going concern, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private. . . . more