OPERATIONS

Aldi goes into high growth mode; will open 650 U.S. stores by end of 2018

BY Marianne Wilson

BATAVIA, Ill. –Deep-discount grocer Aldi is ramping up its U.S. expansion. The company plans to open 650 new stores across the country, including expanding to Southern California, bringing its total number of U.S. stores to nearly 2,000 by the end of 2018.

To support its accelerated growth, Aldi announced a structural adjustment to its senior leadership organization. Jason Hart, who currently serves as president for Aldi US, has been promoted to CEO, Aldi U.S., effective April 1, 2015.

Hart will be supported by Chuck Youngstrom and David Behm, who will continue in their roles of co-presidents for Aldi U.S.

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News

Walmart lights the way on solar energy

BY CSA STAFF

Walmart is fulfilling its promise earlier this year to make a big investment in solar energy: The retailer has accepted bids from SunEdison and SolarCity to install as many as 400 new solar systems on its facilities over the next four years.

“This is the beginning of the next wave in renewable energy for Walmart, an effort we announced in May when we welcomed President Obama to our Mountain View, California store,” said Kim Saylors-Laster, VP of energy at Walmart. “These projects bring us closer to fulfilling our commitment to double the number of on-site solar energy projects in U.S. stores, Sam’s Clubs and distribution centers, thereby reducing our energy expenses and generating clean energy in local communities.”

The company said it estimates that the solar systems will meet 10% to 30% of the energy needs of the facilities where they will be installed. Walmart currently has 260 operational solar plants at its stores, representing 105 megawatts of installed solar capacity. This makes Walmart, the world's largest retailer, also the largest corporate user of solar energy in the United States.

Walmart installed its first on-site solar project in the United States in 2005. At the end of 2013, Walmart had more than 335 renewable energy projects in operation, providing more than 2.2 billion kilowatt hours of renewable electricity annually.

The company has said it is committed to 100% renewable energy by 2020.

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MOBILITY

Nasty Gal makes its move from clicks to bricks

BY Marianne Wilson

LOS ANGELES The wait is over: Nasty Gal, the teen-fave online player with a cult following, has opened its first retail store, on Melrose Avenue in the heart of Hollywood, California.

"We've been having a dialogue with our gal for eight years this month and to celebrate that, we're taking the conversation offline," said Sophia Amoruso, CEO and founder of Nasty Gal, and author of the best-selling #GIRLBOSS book.

The 3,500-sq.-ft. store store is as offbeat and boundary-pushing as its founder. It is centralized around the try-on experience, with a mirrored glass structure at the center of the space which houses five fit rooms. The rooms will allow voyeuristic shoppers to try on clothes behind two-way mirrored doors, allowing them to see out with complete privacy.

The retail store offers a curated selection of the brand’s signature fashion-forward apparel, shoes, intimates, accessories, tech and gifting items , as well as exclusive vintage pieces. Other features include a shoe salon and magazine library—and a live cactus garden.

Designed by architect Rafael de Cardenas, the space takes inspiration from concert stages with reflective surfaces and open, cage-like structures that suggest both exhibitionism and privacy.

After speaking with fans on her book tour, Amoruso decided it was important herself and the Nasty Gal brand to engage with customers in real time.

"We are engineering shareable moments, both visual and experiential, into our stores," Amoruso explained. "We are creating real-life social media by engaging the community we have built purely online. Where that goes is truly limitless."

Nasty Gal is known for regularly updating its website with new offerings. The policy will continue in the retail space with new merchandise arriving several times a week. Store merchandising will not only focus on the Nasty Gal heritage, but promote key product themes of the season.

"We have always been about bold personalities, a strong look, and a specific sound, and this is the first time we will be combining all of those elements into a real life, physical experience," said Amoruso.

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