Thursday, February 28, 2019

Gap to spin off Old Navy into separate public company

Retail Dive
Gap on Thursday announced it will create two independent publicly traded companies: Old Navy and a yet-to-be-named company (dubbed NewCo for now), which will include the Gap brand, Athleta, Banana Republic, Intermix and Hill City.

Following a comprehensive review, executives determined that Old Navy's business model and customers have "increasingly diverged from our specialty brands over time, and each company now requires a different strategy to thrive moving forward," Robert Fisher, Gap Inc. board chairman, said in a statement.. . . more

Marshalls looks online for growth

Retail Dive
Like off-price sibling T.J. Maxx, which launched its e-commerce site in 2013, Marshalls will sell different merchandise online than it does in stores, Ernie Herrman, CEO of parent TJX Cos. told analysts on Wednesday. (The company also runs online site Sierra Trading Post, which will be rebranded to Sierra, Herrman also announced Wednesday.)

"Our strategy is to maximize multi-channel engagement and drive incremental sales," he said,. . . more

What Will Happen to All of the Vacant Sears/Kmart Boxes?

While Chairman Eddie Lampert and his hedge fund ESL Investment managed to buy Sears out of bankruptcy and avoid liquidation—saving about 400 Sears stores—the looming question is what will happen to the hundreds of other shuttered Sears and Kmart locations around the country.

Sears Holdings Corp., which owns Sears and Kmart stores, filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last October after facing years of plummeting sales, while being saddled with a huge debt load. . . . more

Dairy Queen Launches Incentive Program And Targets Growth Markets
American Dairy Queen Corporation (ADQ) is starting 2019 off with a bold plan to expand its DQ Grill & Chill restaurants by targeting 10 major metro markets and by launching a new franchisee incentive program.

Dairy Queen is a major player with more than 7,000 locations and this new strategic plan aims to add more than 70 new restaurants this year in markets. . . more

TJX holiday quarter same-stores sales beat estimates

Off-price apparel retailer TJX Cos Inc reported better-than-expected quarterly same-store sales on Wednesday, as steep discounts drove more shoppers to its T.J. Maxx and Marshalls stores during the holiday season.

TJX has opened more stores and largely depended on its deep in-store discounts to drive traffic unlike other brick-and-mortar retailers, which have shuttered shops and invested in e-commerce as shoppers move online.. . . more

Victoria’s Secret to close about 53 stores on heels of weak holiday performance

Chain Store Age
L Brands reported mixed results for its crucial fourth quarter amid falling sales at its embattled Victoria’s Secret division.

The retailer plans to close approximately 53 underperforming Victoria’s Secret locations in North America this year. The lingerie chain currently has some 957 U.S. stores. Victoria’s Secret same-store sales have fallen for the past three years.  . . . more

DSW adding more in-store nail salons

Chain Store Age
DSW Inc. is expanding its pilot with W Nail Bar.

The footwear giant said it will add nail salons to five additional stores, in Austin, Texas, Washington, D.C., and Dublin, Ohio. DSW has been testing the service since 2017 at two of its stores in Columbus, Ohio, with one at Polaris Fashion Place and the other at Easton Town Center.. . . more

J.C. Penney to close 18 full-line stores, nine specialty stores

Chain Store Age
J.C. Penney is trimming its real estate footprint as it looks to allocate its resources to stores and initiatives that offer the greatest long-term value potential.

The retailer on Thursday reported earnings and sales for the fourth quarter that beat the Street. It also said it will close 18 department stores (including the three locations previously announced in January) and nine home and furniture stores in 2019. . . . more

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Store wars: short sellers expect more pain in US retail

Financial Times
Short sellers who made big bets against US retailers a couple of years ago had hoped for carnage across the board. No one could compete with the rise and rise of Amazon, the theory went, which would make life hard for every mall tenant across America.

But after a period in which internet shopping seemed to hit almost every brick-and-mortar retailer, the industry seems to be dividing into winners and losers. . . . more

Shake Shack Declines as Expensive Expansion Erodes Profitability

Shake Shack is still failing to bring in more diners as it expands outside its home market of New York in the fiercely competitive restaurant space. That may be a concern as more expansion is coming -- the chain plans to open 36 to 40 company-owned U.S. locations in fiscal 2019. They’re also growing internationally. The U.S. chain is facing pressure from higher labor costs, and Shake Shack locations are concentrated in areas where the minimum wages have been on the rise. That cost, coupled with delivery commissions,caused the restaurant-level operating margin to contract to 22.5 percent -- well below the 25.2 percent of a year earlier. . . . more

Lowe’s reports mixed results amid major overhaul for the company

The Charlotte Observer
Amid a company-wide overhaul, Mooresville-based Lowe’s reported mixed financial results Tuesday that included a major charge related to the closure of dozens of stores.

Marvin Ellison, who took over as CEO of Lowe’s in July, said in a statement that company still has work to do, but that it is pleased with the results so far in its transformation.. . . more

Best Buy rings in a strong holiday

Best Buy Co. Inc. topped Wall Street forecasts for holiday sales and profits in the fourth-quarter as shoppers showed strong demand for consumer electronics.

The Richfield-based company reported that comparable sales rose 3 percent, blowing past the 2 percent estimate most had expected. . . . more

Whole Foods drops small-format 365 store name

Yahoo Finance
Whole Foods 365 stores will soon become a thing of the past.

The grocery chain owned by Amazon plans to convert all of its existing 365 stores into regular Whole Foods stores by the end of this year, Yahoo Finance has learned. The move follows its decision to stop expanding the smaller format stores, revealed in an internal announcement in January.. . . more

7 more Papa Gino’s locations in New England shuttered over the weekend
A troubled Boston-based pizza chain revealed that it has gone through yet another round of losses.

Papa Gino’s posted a Facebook message on Sunday announcing that it closed seven additional locations throughout New England, including six in Massachusetts and one in New Hampshire. The closures come after PGHC Holdings, Inc., the former parent company of Papa Gino’s and D’Angelo Grilled Sandwiches, shuttered roughly 95 locations between the two chains in November. PGHC Holdings, Inc. also filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in November, and sold the company to Wynnchurch Capital portfolio company, a private equity investment firm. . . . more

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Where to Locate Your Next Store

KeyPoint Partners
So you want to know where to locate your next store?

When it comes to evaluating retail markets and determining which site has the highest potential, there are a number of factors to consider. There’s no question that physical site characteristics such as venue, tenant mix, accessibility, and visibility are important variables in the decision making process. However the utmost consideration should be given to demographics and competition.. . . more

Friday, February 22, 2019

How millennials' relationships with credit cards will change retail

Retail Dive
Handing over a credit card has always been in the realm of the mundane. A shopper stands in line at a store, gives a cashier a card, cash, (or, for a while, a check), then takes the receipt and is out the door.

But in the midst of a retail tech revolution, nothing is routine. The process in which a retailer obtains a payment can be a part of a larger marketing strategy, can build brand loyalty and can create a frictionless experience for the consumer. If leveraged correctly, a company can broaden touchpoints with a shopper by finding creative solutions that meet their audience where they are financially.

And millennials are an intriguing audience.  . . . more

Sears unveils new Craftsman line

Retail Dive
Sears on Thursday launched the Craftsman Ultimate Collection, featuring tool sets designed for mechanics that include newly redesigned, high performance ratchets, ratcheting wrenches and other items.

Sears in 2017 sold its famous tool brand to Stanley Black & Decker for $900 million and it's now sold at Lowe's and other retailers, though the department store was quick to assert that the Craftsman Ultimate Collection was exclusive to Sears.. . . more

Retail Leaders Doubling Down on Brick-and-Mortar–For Good Reason

Chain Store Age
The future of retail lies in its past: brick-and-mortar stores. And the future is as bright as ever.

Retailers around the world are stepping up their data analytics game in the physical shopping realm, leveraging new technologies such as AI, cloud and robotics to not just enrich the customer cross-channel experience but dramatically improving operational execution and the employee experience as well. At a time of growing concern over how technologies such as AI and robotics will negatively affect the retail workforce, that last point is a welcome revelation.
. . . more

Up to 20 Saks Off 5th stores to close

Chain Store Age
Hudson’s Bay Company continues to downsize its retail portfolio.

The retailer said it is performing a “fleet review” of Saks Off 5th’s 133 stores, and estimates closing up to 20 U.S. locations. No other details on the closures were announced. . . . more

Three online delivery problems solved by automation

Chain Store Age
Every week, it seems there are more retailers testing automated delivery of online orders.

Amazon, Walmart, Kroger, and Stop & Shop are just a few recent examples of retailers piloting the use of autonomous vehicles to fulfill online purchases. Autonomous vehicles are not a panacea for all the issues and complexities associated with delivering online orders. But here are three significant delivery problems facing online retailers that automation can help solve.. . . more

Tide is doubling the size of its laundry store business and students can get washing collected from campus

Consumer goods company Procter & Gamble wants to help people with household chores by doing their laundry. Its Tide brand is aiming to have more than 2,000 cleaning stores by the end of 2020, the company said in an online statement.

It plans to open a range of 24-hour stores, drop-off boxes in apartment buildings and retailers. It will also have vans that will collect and deliver to students on campuses. People using the drop-boxes can manage their laundry via the Tide Cleaners app, submitting cleaning instructions and their drop-box number, before they are notified when their washing is ready for collection.. . . more

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Expert says Woburn Mall work won’t impact traffic

Daily Times Chronicle
The new Woburn Mall owner contends a massive redevelopment of the 23-acre parcel into a lifestyle center with 350 apartments, a movie theatre complex, and more than 20 retail stores will have no discernible impact on area traffic.

Late last week, local officials posted on the City of Woburn website several parts of Edens LLC's special permit application package for its proposed Woburn Village project at 300 Mishawum Rd. in East Woburn. . . . more

Neiman Marcus Debtholders Prepare for New Round of Talks

Neiman Marcus Group Ltd. and its creditors are renewing talks about reworking the company’s debt before its term loan comes due next year, with some agreeing to curb their trading during confidential negotiations, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The luxury department store chain is reaching out to creditors and their advisers to see if they can get past issues that stymied previous efforts, said the people, asking not to be identified discussing a private matter. Certain unsecured bondholders have agreed to restrict their trades for a second time after the previous talks fell apart at the end of last year, the people said. . . . more

Payless store leases go on the selling block

Chain Store Age
The winding down of Payless ShoeSource’s North American operations has begun.

A&G Realty Partners has been retained to manage the sale of 2,587 Payless store leases across the United States and Canada. Payless filed for bankruptcy protection on Feb. 18, and announced that it planned to close all of its North American stores.. . . more

Neighborhood Goods gets more funding and plans to open a store in New York

The Dallas Morning News
Neighborhood Goods has attracted a second round of venture capital funding and plans to use some of its new purse to open a store in New York later this year.

The Dallas-based retail startup, which launched its retail business with a mission to do lots of things differently, opened a 14,000-square-foot store in Plano's Legacy West in November.. . . more

Walmart's smart hiring will make it Amazon's 'worst nightmare' within 2 years, strategist says

Walmart is set to assert "worldwide dominance" and become one of "Amazon's worst nightmares," according to one analyst.

In comments made prior to Walmart's stellar beat, Burt Flickinger, managing director of Strategic Resource Group, said Walmart was set to, "expand their worldwide dominance in online retail and start in these next two years to become one of Amazon's worst nightmares.". . . more

Are Lenders Shying Away from the Retail Sector?

With the volatility and uncertainty surrounding the U.S. retail sector, lenders are cautious and scrutinizing deals with a fine-tooth comb.

Many bricks-and-mortar retail chains have struggled to adapt to increasing e-commerce competition and changing consumer shopping habits, while the country remains over-retailed, according to industry experts. These factors have led to record numbers of bankruptcies and store closings.

Apprehension surrounding this rocky retail environment has resulted in more conservative underwriting and scrutiny by lenders, especially for weaker-performing properties. . . . more

Macy's, Kohl's 'becoming yesterday’s news': Former Toys R US CEO

Fox Business
Gerald Storch, who formerly ran Toys R Us and the Hudson’s Bay Company, said keeping up with the consumer is what it takes to succeed in the retail.

“Retail sales have been very strong this holiday [season]," Storch told FOX Business’ Maria Bartiromo on Wednesday. “Of course there are winners and losers—the winners are the ones who are doing it right who are mastering the Internet and who are providing value to customers.”. . . more

​This legislation could force stores to take your cash

Boston Business Journal
Stores and restaurants in several states would be required to do something pretty basic if certain lawmakers have their way: accept their customers’ cash.

The legislation comes amid a worldwide move toward “cashless payments” using cards or mobile devices, which supporters say are safer, quicker and more convenient. But critics say an outright ban on cash discriminates against those without credit or bank accounts, and raises concerns about privacy and data security.. . . more

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

What drives consumers to click and collect?

Chain Store Age
A new study from click-and-collect platform provider Doddle provides insights into the growing popularity of click-and-collect purchases.

According to the study of more than 2,000 adult U.S. shoppers, 68% of respondents have made multiple click-and-collect purchases. Fifty percent have decided where to buy online based on the ability to pick online purchases up in-store. And 41% said that they made click-and-collect purchases during the holidays this year. . . . more

REIT M&A Activity to Match or Outpace Last Year’s Level in 2019, Experts Predict

Although small in number, REIT M&A deals in 2018 collectively hit their highest monetary mark since 2007. The one dozen transactions, either completed or announced last year, that were tallied by trade group Nareit approached $76.3 billion in value. Back in 2007, the value of such deals reached nearly $97.9 billion.

How will this year’s M&A activity in the REIT sector stack up against 2018? M&A observers believe the volume in 2019 will match or even exceed last year’s figure. . . . more

How common is mobile shopping?

Chain Store Age
A new global consumer survey from iVend Retail sheds light on whether the reality of mobile shopping matches the hype.

According to results of “2019 Global Shopping Trends: Essential Insights for Retailers,” consumer usage of mobile devices to support shopping activities deserves the attention it has been getting. A large majority of shoppers are using smartphones to browse online for going into a store to make a purchase (93%) and research products in-store (86%). In addition, 84% of consumers want store associates to carry handheld mobile devices to provide customer service. . . . more

Charlotte Russe stores still open, but for how long?

Chain Store Age
Charlotte Russe Holdings Corp. is hoping a buyer will emerge but, if not, it is preparing for a possible liquidation — and sooner rather than later.

The bankrupt teen fashion retailer said that it is engaged in “active” discussions with prospective bidders for a sale that would allow it to continue to operate its brick-and-mortar and online platforms. At the same time, Charlotte Russe will simultaneously seek court approval of a “stalking horse” liquidation agreement with a contractual joint venture comprised of Gordon Brothers Retail Partners and Hilco Merchant Resources on February 20, 2019, in compliance with its postpetition financing milestones.. . . more

Dog Days Aren’t Over for Pet Store Rivals

The Wall Street Journal
Private-equity firms bought America’s two biggest pet-store owners within months of each other. One spent billions to boost its online business by acquiring the top internet pet retailer. The other focused on getting people back in stores.

About three years later, neither strategy is a clear winner.

PetSmart Inc., which acquired for $3.35 billion in 2017, is struggling to pay down debt as growth has slowed at the e-commerce company. Petco Animal Supplies Inc., which is dedicating more of its stores to grooming and other services customers can’t get online, said it returned to growth in late 2018 after a stretch of declines.. . . more

CVS Health swings to Q4 loss but still beats Street; forecast disappoints

Chain Store Age
CVS Health reported mixed results for its fourth quarter and issued a disappointing profit forecast for 2019 as it warned of “headwinds” that need to be addressed.

Total revenue rose to $54.42 billion from $48.3 billion, missing the $54.58 billion analysts had expected. Revenue growth was primarily driven by increased pharmacy network claims in the pharmacy services segment, increased prescription volume in the retail/long term care segment and the addition of Aetna.. . . more

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Big Y to sell ‘undersized’ Massachusetts store

Supermarket News
Big Y Foods is looking to sell a supermarket in Adams, Mass., to another operator because the store is too small for its current business model.

The Springfield, Mass.-based grocery chain said yesterday that the Adams location, at 1 Myrtle St., has a footprint of just 16,000 square feet — compared with the retailer’s average size of 55,000 square feet — and it “can no longer operate this store effectively” in order to “keep up with Big Y’s current changing consumer needs.”. . . more

Payless bankruptcy just latest in blow to Connecticut’s retail market

Payless ShoeSource is the latest in a series of companies to suffer a similar fate, including Charlotte Russe, Gymboree, Sears and Toys R’ Us, which have all left holes in malls and shopping centers and along commercial corridors.

Payless will shut down roughly 2,300 stores nationwide and get rid of its online platform. With dozens of store locations statewide, Connecticut will see even more vacancies brought on by an onslaught of retail chains calling it quits over the past year.. . . more

Toys ‘R’ Us comeback is met with skepticism by major toy makers

Yahoo Finance
You can’t blame toy maker executives for viewing reports of Toys ‘R’ Us potentially re-opening up U.S. retail stores with heavy skepticism — if not utter disdain at the prospect of trusting company bigwigs at the retailer again.

The bankruptcy of Toys ‘R’ Us in the fall of 2017 — and subsequent closing of hundreds of U.S. retail stores months later — was a punch to the face of toy companies that relied upon the chain as a key outlet for their latest toys. After years of mismanagement following a disastrous leveraged buyout in 2005, toy makers such as Hasbro and Mattel had to endure a painful 2018. It was headlined by terrible sales pressure and weak stock prices as Toys ‘R’ Us liquidated inventory and shuttered some 700 U.S. locations by the spring.. . . more

What does experiential retail even mean these days?

Retail Dive
These days in brick-and-mortar retail circles, it seems all anyone can talk about is experiential retail. Immersive, interactive, technology-enhanced — these are all adjectives that get tossed around when executives are talking about what the store of the future needs to look and feel like.

What does experiential retail really mean? For some it may be a swimming pool full of sprinkles or meditation pods.

But in reality, how many stores are actually as experiential as these out-of-the-box ideas? In a country with roughly 22.5 square feet of retail space per capita (more than any other country), the answer is: not many. . . . more

Lorna Jane continues U.S. expansion

Chain Store Age
An Australian activewear brand is building out its U.S. footprint.

Lorna Jane is expanding its presence in California, opening stores with Westfield in its new redevelopments in Westfield Century City, Los Angeles, and in University Westfield Town Center, La Jolla, Calif. The brand also plans to open a store with Westfield in San Jose, Calif., scheduled for completion later this year.. . . more

Online shoppers are still shoppers

Chain Store Age
Consumer habits may not change as much online as retailers think.

According to a new survey of more than 1,000 consumers from payment provider Klarna, price plays a major role in online purchase decisions.

Men are particularly frugal online spenders, with 60% saying they are most likely to buy new clothes when an old item wears out – compared to 52% of women. U.S. shoppers also buy new clothes online when there are seasonal sales (44%) and big events like a wedding (30%).. . . more

Eddie Lampert quits his role as Sears Holdings' board chairman

Chicago Business Journal
Eddie Lampert is quitting his role as chairman of Sears Holdings Corp., effective immediately.

He will remain as chairman of Transform Holdco LLC, which now controls substantially all of the assets of Sears Holdings.

The decision comes in the wake of Lampert and his ESL Investments hedge fund winning control of Sears last week in a New York bankruptcy court. . . . more

Walmart flexes in the fourth quarter, beats all expectations

Boston Herald
Walmart beat expectations on quarterly profit and revenue, and e-commerce sales surged during the critical holiday period.

Shares moved sharply higher before the opening bell Tuesday.

Walmart is the first major retailer to deliver fourth-quarter results and its performance provides more evidence that efforts to expand services online as well as in the stores are widening the gap between itself and traditional rivals while at the same time, it’s holding its own against Amazon.. . . more

Friday, February 15, 2019

Hobby Lobby continues to expand retail footprint

Chain Store Age
Hobby Lobby continues to expand its namesake store portfolio.

In 2018, the arts and craft retailer opened 54 stores and undertook 20 store relocations. It plans to open an estimated 65 new locations this year, and will relocate an additional 16 stores. . . . more

Retailer Payless ShoeSource set to shutter its U.S. stores

U.S. discount retailer Payless ShoeSource Inc plans to close all of its approximately 2,300 stores when it files for bankruptcy later this month for the second time in as many years, people familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

The move would make Payless one of the most high-profile victims of the string of bankruptcies that have hit the brick-and-mortar retail sector as more shopping is done online. . . . more

How often do regional grocery customers shop online?

Chain Store Age
Consumers who frequent regional grocery chains follow some distinct patterns in their online shopping habits.

According to several consumer studies conducted by grocery e-commerce platform provider Mercatus, only 26% of regional grocery customers consider themselves online grocery shoppers. Of that group, just over 50% have shopped for groceries online only once or twice in the past three months.. . . more

Amazon is rapidly expanding its air fleet to handle more of its own shipping, but FedEx isn't worried

Amazon is becoming a player in the logistics and shipping industry.

That's what analysts think about the recent expansion of Amazon Air to include 50 planes and several new regional hubs, including a $1.5 billion hub opening in northern Kentucky in 2021.

According to Wolfe Research, the e-commerce giant is now handling its own shipping for 26 percent of online orders. In a December press release, Amazon said that it can "transport hundreds of thousands of packages per day" with its new "dedicated air network" and that its fleet of planes make "two-day shipping possible almost anywhere in the U.S.". . . more

Samsung Joins Apple And Microsoft In The Mall Between Auntie Anne's And Orange Julius

When you walked into a mall in the 1980s and 1990s (the height of indoor mall popularity) there was a sense of practicality to it. The mall had things you needed; new shoes for the family, a food court full of wonderful smells that reminded you of a high school cafeteria and possibly a comic book store. Then malls started to die because people stopped going. In recent years, luxury malls have seen a resurgence in retail. Where once was a failing shoe store now stands an Apple store, a Tesla show room, a Microsoft store and now, a Samsung Experience. . . . more

eMarketer: Amazon to capture 47% of all U.S. online sales in 2019

Chain Store Age
Walmart, which overtook Apple last year to become the third largest U.S. e-tailer, is pulling farther ahead of the tech giant. But it has a long ways to go to catch up with leader Amazon.

Walmart’s e-commerce sales will grow nearly 33% this year to $27.81 billion, according to eMarketer, which predicts the discount giant will capture a 4.6% share of the U.S. e-commerce market, putting it third behind Amazon and eBay.. . . more

Trader Joe’s may be coming to Boston’s Fort Point

Boston Business Journal
Since the development boom along the South Boston waterfront began, the neighborhood has seen an explosion of restaurants and retail — but not a full-service grocery store. That could be about to change.

A Trader Joe’s grocery store could be coming to the Thomson Place retail corridor, a collection of brick-and-beam properties that serves as a bridge between Boston’s historic Fort Point neighborhood and the glittering new construction of the Seaport District.. . . more

Thursday, February 14, 2019

JLL, Gordon Brothers Executives Talk About Their New Partnership to Help Struggling Retailers

Chicago-based JLL, one of the biggest commercial real estate brokerage firms in the world, is partnering with restructuring consultant Gordon Brothers to help flailing retail chains stay afloat in this challenging retail environment. Boston-based Gordon Brothers is an advisory, restructuring and liquidation firm.

The partners say they’ll also work with healthy retail chains looking to grow and seeking their help. For example, even relatively healthy retailers often trim some locations after evaluating their weakest-performing stores.. . . more

Denny's on pace with refranchising plans

Restaurant Business Online
Denny’s, in the midst of a massive refranchising program, has so far sold 10 restaurants to franchisees, with plans to offload about 100 more company-owned units by mid-2020.

As it announced late last year, the 1,700-unit casual-dining chain aims to ultimately become 95% to 97% franchisee-owned to operate under a “lower-risk business model,” Denny’s President and CEO John Miller said during an earnings call with analysts Tuesday. . . . more

'No light at the end of the tunnel' for store closures

Retail Dive
Last year, retailers collectively announced 5,524 U.S. store closures, down 32% from the prior year when they peaked at 8,139, according to a new report by Coresight Research, which was emailed to Retail Dive.

So far in 2019, store closure announcements are up 23%, hitting 2,187, versus this time last year and more are on their way as a result of several major bankruptcies and others on their way. The firm anticipates store closures this year to look a lot like the store closures in 2017 and 2018.. . . more

Rent-A-Center CEO testified board decided to end Vintage merger if opportunity arose

The Dallas Morning News
When Rent-A-Center's CEO Mitch Fadel took the stand on Tuesday in a Delaware court, he disclosed the secret intentions of the Plano-based company's board to end a pending $1.4 billion merger with Vintage Capital.

The Rent-A-Center board had privately agreed in the first week of December to end the merger, Fadel testified. If Vintage Capital failed to seek a deadline extension by Dec. 17, Rent-A-Center would invoke a notification provision to back out of the deal, according to trial testimony reported by Law 360.. . . more

Retail sales sink 1.2% in December in the worst plunge in nine years

Sales at retailers fizzled in December and posted the biggest decline in nine years in a worrisome sign for the U.S. economy, according to a long-delayed government report.

Retail sales sank 1.2% in December, the U.S. Census Bureau said Thursday. It’s the largest drop since September 2009, a few months after the end of the Great Recession.. . . more

Levi's to Return to Stock Exchange After Strong Comeback

Levi Strauss & Co on Wednesday filed paperwork with regulators to return to the stock market after a 34-year absence, buoyed by strong sales and profit growth in recent years that shows an established clothing brand, particular in the hyper-competitive jeans market, can reinvent itself.

The company opened 74 more stores in 2018, including notably a 17,000 square foot store in New York’s Times Square.. . . more

Panera to close last of its pay-what-you-can cafes

Boston Herald
Panera Bread is closing the last of its experimental cafes that let customers pay what they wished.

The company says its Panera Cares location in Boston will close Friday after six years. Panera says it’s helping employees find jobs at other locations. . . . more

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

First Look: Cannabis brand begins national rollout of CBD shops

Chain Store Age
Green Growth Brands has big ambitions.

The cannabis and CBD-infused products company has opened its first Seventh Sense CBD shop, at the Fayette Mall in Lexington, Kentucky. The location represents the first of hundreds of shops that GGB plans to open across the United States.

The opening comes the day after the company announced an agreement with Simon Property Group to gain access to 108 locations in Simon malls nationwide . . . more

Lampert to shrink size of Sears stores

Chain Store Age
Eddie Lampert, who completed his $5.2 billion acquisition (via his ESL Investments hedge fund) of the bankrupt chain on Feb. 12, told The Wall Street Journal that his goal is to shrink the size of existing Sears stores and open more smaller-format locations. Less apparel and more tools and appliances is also part of his strategy.

In the interview, Lampert said he thinks Sears could be a public company at some point in the future.. . . more

CVS introduces new concept store with more health care, less retail

USA Today
Someday soon you may walk into your local CVS Pharmacy with your prescription in one hand and your yoga mat in the other.

That's because CVS Health is testing a new concept store format as the company plans to shift more of its floor space to health care services.

The drug store chain, one of America's largest retailers, is debuting three HealthHUB locations in Houston as it heads toward a future with less space devoted to retail goods like seasonal items.. . . more

Amazon Slashed Prices at Whole Foods. Now They’re Climbing Back Up.

The Wall Street Journal
Whole Foods is raising prices again, bowing to pressure from some consumer-product makers to cover rising packaging, ingredient and transportation costs on hundreds of products.

Internal communications reviewed by The Wall Street Journal show the natural grocer raised prices from 10 cents to several dollars as suppliers have boosted their prices in the face of growing costs. Retailers across the spectrum are starting to pass along similar price increases in response to the growing signs of inflation. . . . more

Mayor Wants a Vacancy Tax for Empty Storefronts

Vacant storefront windows throughout New York City are an urban blight. And with traditional retail being such a tough market, they're becoming more common.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has a plan to solve this problem.

While in Albany, the mayor called for the passage of a "commercial vacancy tax." What this would do is force retail locations from keeping their properties empty or holding out for a high-paying, long-term tenant.. . . more

T-Mobile, Sprint execs defending merger to lawmakers

Boston Herald
With their $26.5 billion merger hanging in the balance, top executives of T-Mobile and Sprint are taking their case to Congress, arguing that joining their companies won’t hurt competition or jack up consumer prices for wireless service.

But they’re likely to face a skeptical audience at a hearing Wednesday. The deal, which must win approval from federal regulators, would combine the nation’s third- and fourth-largest wireless companies, creating a new behemoth roughly the size of industry giants Verizon and AT&T.. . . more

First look: Pembroke’s plan to revitalize Seaport World Trade Center

Boston Business Journal
The real estate arm of Boston-based Fidelity Investments is planning to replace the existing 118,000-square-foot Commonwealth Hall with 163,500 square feet of new public outdoor space, a central tenet of the firm’s plan to revitalize the Seaport World Trade Center in Boston.

The Seaport World Trade Center was one of the first commercial developments in Boston’s Seaport District. Pembroke plans to revamp the center with new retail, event space and a “unique and flexible workplace” for Fidelity workers, the firm said in a press release. . . . more

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Lampert completes acquisition of Sears; chain to conduct CEO search

Chain Store Age
It’s official: ESL Investments, the hedge fund run by Sears Holdings Corp. chairman Eddie Lampert, has completed its acquisition of the bankrupt company for approximately $5.2 billion.

The company will be led by the same management team that constituted the “Office of the Chief Executive” of Sears Holdings, consisting of Robert A. Riecker, CFO; Leena Munjal, chief digital officer; and Greg Ladley, president, softlines. (The office was put in place when Lampert stepped down as CEO.). Sears said it intends to conduct a search for a CEO with a record of success “in managing platform businesses and effectuating large-scale dynamic transformations.”. . . more

Retailers not ready for massive online grocery growth

Chain Store Age
Online grocery is set to boom, whether retailers are prepared or not.

According to “Crossing the Grocery E-commerce Rubicon,” a new study of the U.S. online grocery industry from Israeli AI/robotics technology provider Commonsense Robotics, curbside pickup and online delivery both saw significant growth in 2018. Rollout of curbside pickup locations by major U.S. retailers rose 230% during 2018. By the end of the year, curbside pickup was available in 45% of Walmart stores, 58% of Kroger stores, 56% of Target stores, 30% of Ahold Delhaize stores, and 21.7% of Albertsons stores. . . . more

6 key components of the store of the future

Retail Dive
The future of stores — the ones that will still exist — will be highly experiential. They'll engage the customer's senses, cater to convenience and let customers shop on their own terms. At least that's the message coming out of Future Stores, the Miami-based retail conference that took place last week.

Executives focusing on store design, real estate, technology and employee education programs convened to talk about what the future of stores will mean for them, their employees and, of course, customers. Here are some of the most illuminating quotes from the conference and what you can expect from leaders in brick-and-mortar experiences in the coming year. . . . more

Vantage Capital exec calls Rent-A-Center management 'a bunch of crooks' in civil trial over failed merger

The Dallas Morning News
Vintage Capital partner Brian Kahn while on the stand during a trial in Delaware on Monday said the directors and top management at Rent-A-Center are "a bunch of crooks."

Rent-A-Center terminated its merger agreement with Vintage, valued at $1.4 billion with the assumption of debt, in December surprising Vintage officials who said both sides had agreed that government antitrust review would push the closing into 2019. Rent-A-Center has said that it terminated after a Dec. 17 deadline for a letter to extend the merger agreement wasn't presented by Vintage. . . . more

Convenience not a given in online grocery

Supermarket News
Though billed as a key benefit of online grocery shopping, convenience remains a gap to be bridged for many consumers, new research from Bain & Co. and Google finds.

Of consumers who have shopped online for groceries once in the past 12 months, just 42% said the online experience saves them time, according to Bain and Google’s “Omnichannel Grocery Is Open For Business” report. The survey polled more than 8,000 grocery shoppers nationwide.. . . more

Amazon targets QVC with live shopping stream

Chain Store Age
Live from Amazon – it’s a digital home shopping streaming service!

The e-tail giant is quietly entering the live digital shopping space dominated by QVC with a new service called Amazon Live. Available on the Amazon site and mobile app, Amazon Live offers live video streams of presenters demonstrating various products for sale. Consumers can select different streams promoting various products from a carousel below the video screen. Each carousel heading includes a product image and a link to its Amazon page for convenient purchase.. . . more

How Can Sears Stay Viable in the Long Run?

Footwear News
During the bankruptcy court testimony, Sears indicated that it wasn’t in a position to hire a CEO with the business’ future hanging in the balance. Now, as the company approaches restructuring, it is expected to search for fresh leadership, with retail expert Ray Wimer pointing out the need for Sears to hire beyond the financier — a term he used to describe Lampert’s management.

“You need to be a merchant. You need to understand the customer who you’re trying to serve. You need to understand the merchandise,” said Wimer, . . . more

Monday, February 11, 2019

Markdowns cost retailers $300B last year

Retail Dive
Non-grocery retailers last year missed out on $300 billion in revenues — in the aggregate 12% of total sales — due to markdowns, according to research from retail think tank Coresight and inventory optimization firm Celect.

In the survey of more than 200 "senior retail decision makers," those responding pinned the blame for more than half (53%) of unplanned markdowns on "inventory misjudgments.". . . more

J.C. Penney's controversial former CEO is unsure if the retailer will be around in 5 years

Yahoo Finance
Saving J.C. Penney won’t be easy, and there could be no guarantee it can be done. And guess who couldn’t agree more: former CEO Ron Johnson.

“It depends on how they execute,” Johnson said when asked if J.C. Penney would be around in five years. “They are obviously going to have to reduce their store footprint somewhat. They are going to have to get customers back into the store. But they have a lot of smart people. They are going to work really hard. It’s a challenge because the middle American mall is struggling. So they will work really hard at it and if they execute, they will be around in five years.. . . more

Retail Landlords Aim to Connect on First Swing

REBusiness Online
Developers of new retail product in the e-commerce era face an array of roadblocks, from rising land and construction costs to heightened scrutiny from lenders on cash flows.

Besides a larger economic downturn, in today’s Darwinian retail environment, nothing makes a new project fizzle or a stabilized center depreciate faster than lost income and occupancy brought on by an un-engaging, uninspiring tenant mix.
. . . more

Walmart takes aim at West Elm, Wayfair and others with new home brand

Chain Store Age
Walmart is doubling down on home and expanding its growing collection of exclusive online-only brands with a big new launch.

The chain is introducing, MoDRN, a home brand aimed at customers with a “modern aesthetic.” The brand features nearly 650 items across every room in the house and is divided into three collections – retro glam, refined industrial, and Scandinavian minimal.. . . more

Urban Outfitters Q4 same-store sales fall short

Chain Store Age
Urban Outfitters’ total company net sales for the quarter ended January 31, 2019, increased 3.7% $1.13 billion. Total same-store sales rose 3%, missing the 4.5% increase analysts had expected. Comp-sales were driven by double-digit growth in the digital channel, partially offset by negative retail store sales.

By brand, same-store sales rose 4% at Free People, 4% at Urban Outfitters and 2% at the Anthropologie Group. Wholesale segment net sales increased 3%.. . . more

Lidl furthers commitment to U.S. with new chairman

Chain Store Age
German grocery conglomerate Lidl is increasing its focus on U.S. operations by naming Roman Heini as chairman of Lidl US.

Heini will help oversee activities such as supporting and optimizing Lidl’s U.S. store operations, integrating 27 Best Market stores Lidl US purchased in New York and New Jersey, and the grocer’s ongoing expansion into new markets along the East Coast. . . . more

Payless ShoeSource reportedly preps for bankruptcy

Chain Store Age
Payless ShoeSource may be taking its second trip to bankruptcy court in less than two years.

The footwear retailer is preparing to file for bankruptcy, reported CNBC.Payless, which currently has more than 2,700 stores in North American, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in April 2017.. . . more

Friday, February 8, 2019

Retailers will love Valentine’s Day spending this year

Chain Store Age
Score one for love, according to results of a new survey on consumer Valentine’s Day plans.

Results of an annual survey by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Prosper Insights & Analytics indicate Americans are expected to spend a record amount on Valentine’s Day this year, despite a years-long decrease in the percentage of people celebrating the holiday.. . . more

Dunkin', Taco Bell announce delivery expansion as others hit bumps in the road

Both Dunkin' and Yum Brands used their earnings conference calls Thursday to announce new developments in delivery.

Taco Bell, which is owned by Yum, is now delivering its food nationwide via Grubhub. Meanwhile, Dunkin' is dipping its toes into delivery by launching a small pilot, also with Grubhub, the market leader.. . . more

CGP forecasts stellar year for retailers

Chain Store Age
Wage and job growth are expected to translate into good news for retailers in 2019.

Retail sales in 2019 will rise 5.0%, the fastest growth pace since pre-recession 2006, according to consumer research firm Customer Growth Partners. (The National Retail Federation forecast sales predicted that retail sales in 2019 will increase between 3.8% and 4.4%.). . . more

Hasbro's profit took harder-than-expected hit from Toys R Us store closures

Hasbro's profit was hit harder by Toys R Us' bankruptcy and liquidation than the company had forecast.

Sales in the toy industry fell 2 percent last year as toy manufacturers endured their first Christmas without Toys R Us in more than 60 years.. . . more

How the Apple store lost its ‘wow factor’

Washington Post
Apple is not just a giant of technology; it has also grown into one of the biggest American retailers, with more than 500 stores across five continents. But the shine of its signature stores has dimmed, and they’re facing a pivotal moment — even before Apple announced this week that its retail chief will soon depart.

Industry analysts say that the same product woes and slowed upgrade cycle that have led to Apple’s declining sales are reflected in the waning perception of the stores themselves — with a focus on iterations of marquee products that no longer dazzle and lack immersive, loyalty-inspiring experiences.. . . more

Thriving ‘Self-Care’ Sector Fuels Demand for Strip Center Space

Neighborhood strip centers are getting a big boost from the booming “self-care” sector, which focuses on wellness, health, fitness and beauty.

Globally, the self-care sector is a whopping $4.7 trillion business, reports the Global Wellness Institute. The term “self-care” is about people investing more in their health, says Sara Martin, vice president of retail brokerage at Welsh Cos./Colliers International | Minneapolis-St. Paul. That could be physically, mentally, spiritually or socially.. . . more

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Sears will stay in business as judge approves Eddie Lampert’s bid

Chain Store Age
Sears Holdings Corp. has been given a lifeline.

A Federal Bankruptcy Court judge on Thursday approved Edward Lampert’s bid through his ESL Investments hedge fund to purchase the struggling retailer’s assets for $5.2 billion. It was the only submitted offer that would have kept Sears alive and in business.

In allowing Lampert’s bid to go through, Judge Robert Drain rejected arguments from the retailer’s unsecured creditors who had urged the court to shut down the company down and liquidate the assets.. . . more

What will Sears look like on the other side of bankruptcy?

Retail Dive
A bankruptcy filing from one of the most iconic U.S. retailers was bound to be unique. But the series of events that have played out over the last several months have resulted in polarizing perceptions of what the future holds for Sears.

On one side, former CEO Eddie Lampert and his hedge fund ESL Investments have painted a picture of themselves as heroes swooping in to save the chain, along with roughly 425 stores and 45,000 jobs. They envision a world where Sears regains its competitive edge and a stable balance sheet.. . . more

Things Remembered files for bankruptcy to facilitate acquisition

Chain Store Age
Things Remembered has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as part of its plan to be acquired by a leading giftware company.

Enesco intends to operate Things Remembered online, direct mail, and B2B retail businesses. It also will keep a “portfolio” of stores open under the Things Remembered brand. (Things Remembered currently operates about 400 stores.). . . more

Shopko store closures more than double, now exceed 250

Green Bay Press Gazette
Shopko will close almost 70 percent of its locations between now and mid-May as it attempts to reorganize and emerge from bankruptcy.

The company published a list this week that indicates it will close 251 stores, more than twice the number of stores Shopko identified for closing in mid-January.  . . . more

Chipotle shares jump after company crushes earnings estimates, as pace of turnaround accelerates

Chipotle on Wednesday reported quarterly earnings and revenue that beat analysts’ expectations, thanks to increasing foot traffic and menu price increases.

“I’m very pleased to report strong fourth quarter results with 6.1 percent comparable restaurant sales growth that included 2 percent transaction growth,” CEO Brian Niccol said in a statement.. . . more

Chick-fil-A receives key city approval, inches closer to Boston opening

Boston Herald
City zoning officials cleared a key hurdle for fast-food chain Chick-fil-A’s first foray into Boston, meaning you could soon “Eat Mor Chikin.”

The Zoning Board of Appeals gave approval for the Georgia-based chicken sandwich chain to begin work at the former Boloco location on Boylston Street with plans to open by next year. Chick-fil-A will need approval from the city Licensing Board before it can open.. . . more

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

JCPenney is ditching appliances and most furniture from its stores

CNN Business
JCPenney is trying to reinvent itself again. It's getting rid of appliances and most furniture to return its focus to clothing sales.

The company hasn't turned a profit since 2010, and it forecast several more years of losses. New CEO Jill Soltau pledged "quick action" to put JCPenney on the path to profitability.. . . more

Charlotte Russe plans for full chain liquidation if no buyer emerges

Retail Dive
Charlotte Russe Holdings (and its subsidiaries) on Monday said on Feb. 3 it filed for relief under Chapter 11 in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware.

The company intends to shutter 94 of its stores and pursue a going-concern sale of the business and its assets, according to a company press release. Charlotte Russe also said it has received a commitment for debtor-in-possession financing in the maximum amount of $50 million, which awaits court approval.. . . more

Pizza Chain To Open First CT Location In Newington

Artichoke Basille's Pizza will open its first of five Connecticut locations in Newington on Valentine's Day.

The Newington location will have 1,600 square feet of space and seating for 35 people along with a full service bar.. . . more

Charlotte Russe closures will hit Simon Property Group and General Growth Properties hard

Charlotte Russe filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy, detailing its plan to close "approximately 94 of its store locations" in a press release on Monday.

In terms of exposure to the closures, Simon Property Group looks to be hit hardest. It currently leases 106 Charlotte Russe locations, which sit inside its vast shopping mall portfolio. General Growth Properties looks to be hurt as well with exposure to 78 stores.. . . more

Sears plans to load pensions and close more stores

CBS News
Eddie Lampert's $5.2 billion offer to buy what's left of Sears is drawing fire from the bankrupt retailer's creditors as well as current and former employees.

The judge who will determine whether to approve Lampert's bid for the retailer, which the billionaire investor still chairs, is hearing from creditors who oppose the deal. That includes the government entity that guarantees pensions when an insured plan closes without enough money to cover benefits. . . . more

Gordon Brothers and JLL announce third-party service alliance

Chain Store Age
JLL and Gordon Brothers have formed a strategic alliance with the stated purpose of elevating the level and number of services they offer to retailers and their investors.

The combined organization will focus on helping retailers minimize lease liabilities, maximize the value of their underperforming assets, and retain or migrate customers. . . . more

Town granted delay in Market Basket case

The Conway Daily Sun
The Carroll County Superior Court has granted the town of Conway's request for a time extension in order to provide "voluminous" materials related to the planning board's decision to approve a Market Basket supermarket in North Conway.

The planning board unanimously gave conditional site-plan approval on Nov. 8, 2018, to the owners of Settlers Green to build a 69,845-square-foot Market Basket store between Barnes Road and Common Court.

The company that owns the North Conway Grand Hotel, Bellevue Properties of Middletown, R.I., is seeking to have the court reverse that decision.. . . more

Amazon reportedly takes the bus in latest delivery idea

Chain Store Age
Amazon’s latest strategy for delivering goods to consumers reportedly involves public transit.

According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Amazon has received a patent for a system that would deliver orders to consumers via public buses. Customers would meet a bus at a prearranged stop and retrieve their order from a removable module attached to the bus.. . . more

U.S. Retail Sales Seen Slowing This Year as Economy Cools Off

Retail sales growth in the U.S. is expected to slow down in 2019 amid cooling economic conditions, according to the National Retail Federation, an industry trade group.

Americans will boost retail spending by 3.8 percent to 4.4 percent this year, the NRF said. For comparison, preliminary estimates show that sales rose 4.6 percent in 2018, according to the group. The NRF used a combination of government data and its own estimates. . . . more

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Study: This type of search is growing in popularity

Chain Store Age
Seeing just may be believing for an increasing number of consumers.

According to a new study from marketing agency Performics and Northwestern University, visual search has become a preferred option to obtain information for many consumers. Visual search includes taking photos with a mobile device camera while image recognition software delivers search results in the form of similar items, as well as enabling customers to select features by using icons or photos to deliver more precise search results. It also encompasses allowing consumers search via photos rather than text listings.. . . more

New Jersey moves closer to banning cashless stores

Chain Store Age
All that is needed for New Jersey to become the second state in the nation to ban cashless store is the signature of Gov. Phil Murphy.

New Jersey legislators have passed a bill to prevent businesses from banning consumers from using cash for purchases. The bill, which passed with overwhelming support, applies only to point-of-sale purchases and excludes mail, telephone and Internet sales. Car-rental companies are also exempted. . . . more

Ralph Lauren Q3 income, sales beat Street on strong holiday sales

Chain Store Age
Ralph Lauren Corp. turned in a strong quarterly performance fueled by a big marketing push and an online surge.

Revenue rose 5.1% to $1.73 billion. North American sales rose 3%, with a 4% increase in same-store sales. North America wholesale revenue was down 3% as the company continues to cut back on sales to the off-price wholesale channel.

Online sales surged 20% in the quarter, with strength across all regions. . . . more

CBL secures financing to renovate mall portfolio

Chain Store Age
CBL announced it had closed on $1.18 billion in financing that will allow it to avoid debt maturities coming due soon and focus its resources on renovating its portfolio of 90-plus malls.

“We’re working with virtually the entire portfolio at this point. We started 15 redevelopments in 2018 and it will be closer to 20 in ’19,” CBL CEO Stephen Lebovitz said. “We started last year with 42 Sears and we ended the year with 12. We also had 14 BonTons [that closed]. Between those two anchors, most of our properties are touched.”. . . more

Dispute between Sears and Eddie Lampert's hedge fund could jeopardize bid to save retailer

USA Today
A new dispute between Sears Holdings and its prospective buyer could jeopardize the last-minute bid to save the retailer from liquidation.

Sears bankruptcy attorney Ray Schrock said Monday in a court hearing that the company does not agree with hedge fund ESL Investment’s interpretation of their deal to preserve Sears in shrunken form.. . . more

Monday, February 4, 2019

Retail distress deepens in U.S. on drag from debt, web spending

Valley News
The U.S. retail apocalypse is far from over.

While the collapse of storied merchants like Sears and Toys R Us has left stores shuttered across America, retailers still make up about a fifth of the universe of distressed borrowers. Consumer confidence is slumping.

On Friday, the head of the biggest mall owner in the U.S. cautioned that more retailer bankruptcies are coming.. . . more

Stage Stores gets delisted warning

Chain Store Age
Stage Stores is at risk of being delisted from the New York Stock Exchange.

The company, which operates 728 stores under the Bealls, Goody’s, Peebles, State and Palais Royal banners along with 68 Gordmans off-price locations, said it received notification from the NYSE that the retailer is no longer in compliance with the NYSE continued listing criteria that requires listed companies to maintain an average closing share price of at least $1.00 over a consecutive 30 trading-day period.. . . more

Charlotte Russe files for bankruptcy; pursuing sale

Chain Store Age
Mounting debt and sluggish mall traffic has taken a toll on another specialty apparel retailer.

Charlotte Russe Holdings Corp. announced it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The young women’s fashions retailer said it plans to close about 95 stores while continuing to pursue a sale of the business and assets. Charlotte Russe operates more than 500 stores, including 10 under its Peek Kids banners.
. . . more

Try on your next pair of glasses using just your iPhone

Leveraging the face-mapping tech on Apple's iPhones, the Warby Parker app will now include a a "virtual try-on" feature, which lets customers preview what glasses would look like in impressive detail using augmented reality. Download the app, choose a pair of frames, then swipe down to activate "virtual try-on," which opens the front-facing camera and maps the glasses onto your face. The glasses stay fixed in place as your turn and tilt your head, and even show the way light filters through a pair of acetate frames or shine on metal details. . . . more

Retail jobs edge up in January

Chain Store Age
The retail industry added jobs in January in a month whose overall job gains surpassed expectations.

Retail industry employment in January was down by 15,100 jobs unadjusted from a year earlier, but increased 14,800 jobs seasonally adjusted from December, according to the National Retail Federation. The retail numbers, which exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants, came as the nation added 304,000 jobs overall compared with December, the Labor Department said.. . . more

Why Dollar Tree’s Stock Could Soar
A new store opening program could improve Dollar Tree Inc.'s stock performance. It is also delivering a store refurbishment program that is increasing comparable sales versus older stores.

A refreshed product lineup that includes a partnership with Hallmark and additional snack zones have proven popular among customers. Further investment in digital opportunities could drive footfall. The continued integration of Family Dollar stores includes new store formats and shared operating models, which could enhance the customer experience. . . . more

Sears bankrutpcy watch: Lampert and creditors face off in court today

Chicago Tribune
On Monday, Sears Holdings Corp., as the combined company is now known, and its creditors are expected to appear in court to square off over whether Lampert, the retailer’s chairman and former chief executive, should get yet another chance to rescue the iconic American retail chain and avoid a liquidation.

Sears named Lampert’s $5.2 billion offer to buy the retailer’s assets and keep the company alive the winner of a bankruptcy auction last month. But Lampert’s proposal, made through his hedge fund ESL Investments, still needs the endorsement of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York, and it has run into opposition from creditors skeptical that Sears will be any more successful after exiting bankruptcy. . . . more

Friday, February 1, 2019

The running list of 2019 bankruptcy victims

Retail Dive
Last year delivered some of the biggest bankruptcies in retail history, including the Chapter 11 filing of 125-year-old department store, Sears.

During the fall of 2018, Retail Dive looked at data and FRISK scores from CreditRiskMonitor to predict which retailers could go bankrupt in 2019. Those stores at risk included J.C. Penney, Neiman Marcus, J. Crew and 99 Cents Only. . . . more

H&M to shutter 160 stores amid profit slump

Retail Dive
H&M on Thursday said that fourth quarter net sales rose 12%. Online sales rose 24%.

For the full year, net sales rose 5% with sales and market share rising in most markets during the second half, the company also said. Online sales rose 22%, reaching 14.5% of total sales. . . . more

Winners, losers in 2018 e-commerce

Chain Store Age
When it comes to the winners and losers in online sales, Amazon is in a class by itself. And while some competitors are coming on strong, is not among them.

That’s according to a report from digital intelligence firm Jumpshot, which showed that Amazon continues to dominate e-commerce, with more than a 70% market share of online transactions in 15 “top level” categories in 2018 and a thriving search platform that is driving billions in quarterly revenue. The online giant drove $1.59 billion in transactions in 2018.. . . more

David's Bridal is lowering some dress prices after surviving Chapter 11 bankruptcy

USA Today
As David’s Bridal was toppling toward Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2018, the nation's largest wedding retailer took careful steps to show it was not leaving couples at the altar.

The company made sure customers knew it wasn’t planning to close stores or cancel orders, unlike Alfred Angelo Bridal, whose 2017 bankruptcy culminated in a chaotic liquidation that temporarily left many brides-to-be without dresses.

David’s Bridal succeeded in using bankruptcy to slash burdensome debt it had acquired through a private-equity buyout years ago. The chain emerged from bankruptcy with more sustainable finances on Jan. 18.. . . more

Amazon’s Q4 store sales fall 2.7%—largely due to lackluster Whole Foods

Chain Store Age
Overall, Amazon has ended its fiscal year on a positive note. However, there is now a clear divergence in performance between the top and bottom lines – with the latter accelerating and the former decelerating.

On the profit front, Amazon’s results are impressive. Net income increased by 63.1% and operating income by 78.0%. Much of this is coming from the Amazon Web Services segment, where income from operations rose by 61%. However, some credit should also go to the North American operation where volume increases helped ease up operating profits by 33%. . . . more

Francesca’s Holdings CEO out, exploring alternatives

Chain Store Age
Francesca’s Holdings Corp. may put itself on the selling block.

The struggling fashion apparel and accessories retailer on Thursday announced it is exploring strategic alternatives, including a potential sale of the company and a financing or refinancing. Francesca’s also said that Steve Lawrence has resigned as CEO “to pursue other opportunities,” effective February 1, 2019. . . . more

U.S. economy added more jobs than expected in January, unemployment rate rose to 4%

Yahoo Finance
The January jobs report shows the U.S. labor market is still chugging along.

The U.S. economy added 304,000 non-farm payrolls in the first month of 2019, ahead of consensus expectations of 165,000.

December’s number, however, was revised down to 222,000 from 312,000 previously.. . . more