FINANCE

American Apparel battle heats up as retailer adopts poison pill

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — The battle for control over American Apparel Inc. shifted into high gear with the company adopting a one-year stockholder rights plan, or so-called poison pill, aimed at stopping founder and ousted chairman and CEO Dov Charney from seizing control of the chain.

Charney is American Apparel’s largest shareholder, with a 27.2% stake in the company. On Wednesday, he signed a deal with Standard General whereby the New York firm would buy at least 10% of the company’s stock and then loan Charney the funds to acquire the stake.

A special committee of the retailer’s board made the move to adopt the poison pill after Charney stated his "intent to acquire control or influence over the company" in a Friday filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, American Apparel said in a statement released Saturday. The plan doesn’t kick in until someone acquires 15% of the company or in the case of Charney who already owns more than that, when he acquires an additional 1% of the firm.

"The rights plan is designed to limit the ability of any person or group, including Dov Charney, to seize control of the company without appropriately compensating all American Apparel shareholders," the statement said. "It is intended to provide the board of directors and stockholders with time to make informed judgments."

Charney is not backing down on his fight to regain control. His attorney filed an arbitration petition on Monday with the American Arbitration Association. alleging wrongful termination, breach of contract and retaliation, among other charges.

The struggling retail chain also is confronted with having to repay a $10 million loan to its lender Lion Capital by July 4, possibly trigger a default on other borrowings, the Wall Street Journal reported.

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MARKETING/SOCIAL MEDIA

Survey: Retailers struggle with omnichannel commerce

BY Dan Berthiaume

Paris – Most retailers (65%) struggle with getting omnichannel commerce right and cite underperforming technology, changing IT trends and the complex organizational infrastructure as the primary reasons. According to a recent survey from Ipanema Technologies, retailers see the customer-centric experience as including excellent customer service (58%), fast transactions (55%) and interchangeable purchase channels (49%), but only 35% of respondents describe their customer experience as excellent.

Technology issues most retailers cite as impediments to omnichannel commerce include a sprawling IT infrastructure (74%), business pressure to provide technology innovation (71%) and cost pressures. In addition, companies are wrestling with a host of IT priorities such as cloud deployment (57%) and mobile application development (55%), supply chain optimization (54%), increasing bandwidth (52%) and server virtualization (52%), all requiring network design changes.

The majority (76%) of retailers recognize the importance of excellent application performance but lack confidence in the ability of their IT infrastructure to deliver it (78%), roll out new applications (78%) or manage application service level agreements (77%).

In addition, retailers believe that guaranteeing consistent and high levels of application performance can have a major impact on customer/shopper satisfaction (54%), employee productivity (50%), brand reputation (49%) and company financial targets (41%) In fact, if retailers made significant improvements to their omnichannel approach by the end of the year, more than half would expect to see an increase in sales (55%), increased market share (47%), positive word of mouth (47%) and cost savings (46%).

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REAL ESTATE

American Eagle to open three U.K. stores

BY Dan Berthiaume

Pittsburgh – American Eagle Outfitters Inc. is entering the U.K. with the opening of three new company-owned stores. The stores will be located in the Bluewater mall in Kent, England, as well as the Westfield Group’s London and Stratford City shopping centers in London, England.

The stores opening in the Westfield centers will include an aerie presence in shop-in-shop form. All of the stores are expected to open during fall 2014.

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