FINANCE

Arby’s to launch nationwide remodeling program

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Atlanta — Arby’s Restaurant Group, Inc. announced plans to launch a major remodeling program across its nationwide network of nearly 3,400 Arby’s quick-service sandwich restaurants.

The turnkey revitalization initiative includes a new building image, team member re-training program and franchisee remodel financing solution.

"We continue to make tremendous progress against our multi-year program to reinvigorate the Arby’s brand," said Paul Brown, CEO, Arby’s Restaurant Group, Inc. "The release of the new Inspire remodel image and corresponding revitalization initiative is an important step in the journey. As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Arby’s brand this year, initiatives like these will ensure we’re well positioned for our next 50 years of growth."

After testing various design alternatives in 2013 and early 2014, Arby’s is now planning to remodel at least 30 company-owned restaurants to the new Inspire image this year in key markets, including: Huntsville, Alabama; Indianapolis, Indiana; Youngstown, Ohio and Salt Lake City, Utah. Architectural plans were released to franchisees in June of this year. The company plans to significantly expand the number of remodels in 2015.

The ongoing effort to provide a new look for Arby’s restaurants ties in to the brand’s plan to debut a new positioning and creative campaign later this summer. All updates to the restaurant interior and exterior, such as a new color palette, geometric shapes and elements, renewed materials and subway tiling, are designed to allow patrons to fully experience the revised and reinvigorated Brand look and feel.

Designed as a "kit-of-parts" approach, exterior enhancements include: cantilevered red awnings at the primary touch points (drive-thru, entranceway), new internally illuminated signage, wood tones, white brick, enhanced lighting and upgraded landscaping around the restaurant.

Interior enhancements include: a color palette that ties to the brand colors using updated, fresh materials, subway tiling and stainless steel in the kitchen area, multicolor wood materials, modern lighting and chalkboard graphics.

Additionally, the brand revitalization effort includes a half-day, offsite Brand Camp session for all restaurant team members.

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STORE SPACES

Lowe’s introduces virtual 3-D room remodeling for customers

BY Marianne Wilson

Mooreseville, N.C. — Lowe’s has launched Lowe’s Innovation Lab, with a goal of creating new technology to solve common consumer frustrations while working alongside start-ups, universities, specialized professionals and other companies. The first concept to come out of the lab is the Lowe’s Holoroom, a home improvement simulator that applies 3D and augmented reality technologies to provide homeowners an intuitive, immersive experience in their dream rooms.

"We know that for many homeowners, the struggle to visualize a completed home improvement project or to share that vision with others can stop a project in its tracks," said Kyle Nel, executive director of Lowe’s Innovation Labs. "The Holoroom is our solution, enabling consumers to visualize their project and share that vision with family and friends."

A customer uses the new solution by choosing their preferred products, and then viewing and experiencing the products in the Holoroom. While in the Holoroom, they can make changes to the room design until they are satisfied with the results. They can then take home a printout or view a 3-D model of the room which they can share with others via with a free app available on iOS or Droid devices.

"Lowe’s wants to lead innovation by developing disruptive technologies that will help us establish a long-term competitive advantage," said Nel. "Lowe’s Innovation Labs will allow us to quickly bring in new technology and new partners, explore a wide range of possibilities and identify opportunities to develop concepts like the Holoroom."

SciFutures, a foresight and innovation consultancy, partnered with Lowe’s on the development of the Holoroom.

The Lowe’s Holoroom will be introduced in select Toronto stores in 2014, and equipped with thousands of products to help customers plan a bathroom remodel.

Additional product categories and rooms will be added to the solution in the next 12 to 18 months.

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FINANCE

Lululemon Q1 plunges; CFO to retire

BY Marianne Wilson

Lululemon Athletica Inc.’s first-quarter net income plunged 60%, impacted by a one-time tax adjustment. Although its adjusted profit and revenue beat Wall Street’s expectations for the quarter, the retailer lowered its full-year earnings forecast.

Lululemon said that CFO John Currie plans to retire by the end of its fiscal year (February 2015).

Lululemon earned $19 million for the period ended May4, down from $47.3 million in the year ago period. The quarter had a tax expense of $52.5 million, which included a non-recurring adjustment of $30.9 million for the planned repatriation of foreign earnings that will be used to fund a buyback program.

Revenue increased 11% to $384.6 million from $345.8 million. Same-store sales inched up 1%.

The earnings report came a day after Lululemon founder Chip Wilson said that he voted against the re-election of outside directors Michael Casey and RoAnn Costin. Wilson, saying that he believes board changes are needed to help increase shareholder value.

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