Ashley Stewart files bankruptcy; to close 27 stores
New York — Plus-sized retailer Ashley Stewart has filed for voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. As part of its restructuring plan, the company announced it will immediately close 27 underperforming locations. Ashley Stewart currently operates some 168 stores. The company previously filed Chapter 11 in 2010.
In a separate statement, the company said potential buyers have expressed interest in buying the chain.
"We are encouraged to see that several entities from both the financial and apparel industries have expressed interest in Ashley Stewart," said Michael Abate, senior VP of finance. "The plus-sized market is poised for increased growth and the Ashley Stewart shopper is in the prized 25-55 age demographic, when women are at the height of their earning power."
According to the company’s statement, Ashley Stewart has a decline in sales and profitability in 2013 due to a number of factors that have been corrected.
American Eagle Q4 falls 89% on lower sales, charges
Pittsburgh — American Eagle Outfitters Inc.’s fourth-quarter profit plunged 89% on lower sales and one-time charges related to employee severance costs, the discontinuation of a product line and other items. The company also forecast first-quarter results that were below analysts’ estimates.
The teen apparel retailer posted net income of $10.5 million for the quarter ended Feb.1, down from $94.8 million in the year-ago period.
Sales were $1 billion in the quarter, down from $1.1 billion last year. Same-store sales fell 7%.
For the full year, American Eagle’s net income declined to $83 million from $232.1 million. Annual revenue fell 5% to $3.31 billion, from $3.48 billion.
"The company’s results in 2013 were highly disappointing," said interim CEO Jay Schottenstein. "While tough macro conditions have persisted in our retail sector, our merchandise and overall customer experience fell short of expectations. We’re taking steps to bring greater focus and excitement to our product offering and better engage our core customers."
In January, American Eagle CEO Robert Hanson left the company, on the heels of a disappointing holiday season. Schottenstein assumed the post on an interim basis.
IRI unveils new age CPG solutions
The phrase “game-changing” is arguably the most overused in business, but a strategic alliance that IRI president and CEO Andrew Appel announced this week actually fits the bill.
During introductory remarks at IRI’s annual summit, Appel shared with the more than 1,000 attendees gathered in Orland details of a huge data sharing partnership between IRI, comScore and Rentrak.
“Far and away, this is the biggest innovation IRI has done in the past 15 years,” Appel said.
The combination of the three firms’ unique data assets means brand marketers and retailers will have access to unified view of shopper behavior and media consumption in a way that did not previously exist. That’s because IRI brings its strength in capturing sales data and shoppers insights found in its “Liquid Data” platform with comScore’s market leading online behavior assets and Rentrak’s cross-platform media consumption data.
“This combination will allow brand marketers to finally get a handle on how all elements of the marketing mix are driving sales,” Appel said. The strategic alliance between the three firms creates what Appel called, “the richest data set in the world to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of how we run our businesses.”
While the agreement with comScore and Rentrak was the most significant announcement Appel made, he did allude to an additional strategic partnership to be announced in the coming year on the activation side of the business as opposed to the measurement side.
All the announcements were part of a comprehensive review of upgrades and enhancements to the tools IRI makes available to CPG companies and retailers. Accordingly, the theme of the three day event which kicked on Monday was, “Winning the Race to Growth.” It was a natural follow-up to the prior year’s theme of “Growth Delivered,” which propelled IRI to a record year, according to Appel.
“Last year it was about ‘Growth Delivered,’ but this year it is about accelerating the pace of that growth,” Appel said.
Key developments Appel outlined to help clients achieve success on an “immensely complex path to purchase,” involve the availability of real time data around the clock on mobile devices. IRI is also launching its own app store, which will contain micro tools for specific functions such as market growth opportunity finder called IRI Pivot. Other apps will be focused on a product launch success predictor and a customizable alert platform.
Another key area of development involves IRI’s Retail Trade Desk. Appel said it will transform the way merchants make decisions and empower unprecedented engagement with suppliers. Trade desk features supplier collaboration tools, decision-tracking features and automated action recommendation features that can be accepted or rejected.