FINANCE

American Apparel gets $25 million boost from Standard General

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — American Apparel Inc. has reached an agreement with its largest shareholders that will bolster its financial situation, remake its board, and keep the retailer’s manufacturing in the United States.

The deal was struck by the New York investment firm Standard General, which owns a nearly 44% stake in the company, American Apparel’s board, and company founder Dov Charney. It includes up to $25 million from Standard General that will enable American Apparel to pay off a nearly $10-million loan from its longtime lender Lion Capital. On Monday, Lion formally demanded repayment of the loan, citing a provision in its lending agreement that allows the loan to be called in early if Charney stops working as CEO.

Under the agreement, five of American Apparel’s seven directors have agreed to voluntarily step down, including Charney. Standard General will designate three new directors on its own and, along with the current board, will have a say in the other two candidates.

“This truly marks the beginning of an important new chapter in the American Apparel story,” Allan Mayer, a board co-chairman, said in a statement. “With the support of Standard General, we are confident the company will finally be able to realize its true potential.”

Under the new agreement, Charney will remain as a strategic consultant with the company until an investigation into his alleged misconduct is concluded. Based on the findings, a committee of board members will determine whether he can serve as “CEO or an officer or employee of American Apparel.”

"He will serve no role if he is deemed unfit," Standard General said in its letter.

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Aerosoles taps former Children’s Place exec as EVP, retail

BY CSA STAFF

Kevin Mead, the former SVP, director of stores for the Children’s Place, has joined the senior team at Aerosoles as EVP, retail reporting directly to CEO Jules Schneider. Mead will lead the strategic direction, ongoing expansion and operations of Aerosoles retail and outlet locations.

Aerosoles has brought in Mead to spearhead for the retail division the company’s growth strategy, following its recent partnership with Palladin Consumer Retail Partners (PCRP).

"Kevin has demonstrated outstanding leadership in retail," said Schneider. "He brings deep expertise in creating strategies for an unmatched customer experience in stores and developing growth initiatives to drive business forward."

At the Children’s Place, Mead was responsible for 1000 stores and more than $1.3 billion in annual sales overseeing the planning, development, and execution of sales and service strategies, visual merchandising, operating structure and development of talent.

"I am very excited to join Aerosoles and lead the retail team," said Mead. "Aerosoles is such a strong brand, and I look forward to building the team to accelerate the growth of our retail network."

Prior to the Children’s Place, Mead held senior level store operating positions at Ralph Lauren, Aura Science, Victoria’s Secret Beauty, Old Navy and Macy’s.

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MARKETING/SOCIAL MEDIA

J.D. Power survey: Hhgregg, Lowe’s highest in consumer satisfaction

BY Marianne Wilson

Westlake Village, Calif. — Hhgregg ranks highest in appliance retailer customer satisfaction, followed by Lowe’s, according to the J.D. Power 2014 Appliance Retailer Satisfaction Study. The survey found that a knowledgeable sales staff providing a prompt, courteous and engaging customer service experience helps drive satisfaction with home appliance retailer.

Hhgregg had a score of 819 (on a 1,000-point scale) and performed particularly well in the sales staff, delivery and installation service factors. Lowe’s (815) performed well in the store facility and price factors, and ties with Sears in the merchandise factor.

While price remains a leading driver for more than half of customers when selecting an appliance store, retailers can’t rely on price alone to remain competitive," said Christina Cooley, director of the home improvement practice at J.D. Power. "The sales staff has an opportunity to differentiate the customer experience through engagement activities from the moment a customer walks in the door, all the way through appliance selection, delivery and installation. It’s the simple engagement activities — those that don’t require extensive training — that have a huge impact on customer satisfaction."

Key findings of the survey include:

• Providing a knowledgeable, courteous and readily available sales staff is key in driving a satisfying customer experience.

• More than nine-in-10 (91%) customers indicate that staff was available to assist them during their recent appliance shopping experience and 77& indicate they were greeted promptly. Among customers who engage with the appliance retail sales staff, 86% indicate the staff listened to their questions and concerns.

• In 2014, fewer customers indicate that multiple brands were discussed while shopping than in 2013 (58% versus 63%, respectively), but only 14% say the salesperson tried to steer them toward a specific brand.

• More than three-fourths (77%) of customers indicate the store carried all of the brands they were seeking, and 63% indicate the retailer had the desired appliance in stock at the store.

• More than one-half (52%) of customers rely on the appliance retailer to deliver and install their new appliances.

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