Au Bon Pain launches remodeling program
New York City — Fast-casual restaurant operator Au Bon Pain is launching a major remodeling program that will transform all of its 318 cafes. The Boston-based chain also is testing iPads as an order-taking device in select stores.
Under this initiative, the company has already remodeled a majority of its cafes in the greater New York City area, one of the company’s largest markets.
The café interiors will be redesigned to speed service, particularly at the sandwich bar, where a more efficient ordering process utilizing iPads is being tested at several locations. The seating areas will be refurbished, and team members are now distinguished by new black uniforms with a sunburst orange apron.
"Our recently remodeled New York City cafes have been generating double-digit sales increases, reflecting the enthusiastic response of our guests,” said Sue Morelli, CEO.
The redesign is being undertaken as the chain gears up for expansion. It is planning to add more than 20 new units systemwide its current fiscal year, including in new markets such as Sacramento, Calif., and Nashville, Tenn.
FM completes $20 million credit facility
Hartford, Conn. — RBS recently completed a $20 million senior credit facility for FM Global Holdings (FM Facility Maintenance). The proceeds will be used to provide working capital for growth and acquisition financing.
FM chairman, Jim Barnes said, “This $20 million facility completes the third step of our acquisition capital plan which began with at $12.5 million equity raise last August followed by a $6.5 million mezzanine debt facility closed at year end. Combined with this $20 million facility, FM has sufficient capital to execute on its 2011 acquisition strategy.”
The facility has accordion features to expand to $40 million.
Jim Reavey, president and CEO added, “Continuing strength in our core business coupled with 25 percent year over year growth has allowed FM to tap into substantial capital for acquisitions. FM will focus on purchasing companies that provide single trade services that are presently offered within our current 45 trades.”
U.S. shopping center industry tallies to nearly 108,000 centers
New York City — The U.S. shopping-center industry grew to approximately 108,000 centers in 2010, according to the latest statistics from CoStar Group. The data, compiled on behalf of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), marked the slowest U.S. industry growth (+0.2% or 259 centers) on record since at least 1971 for which consistent data exist.
Over the first four months of 2011, 50 new centers were tallied by the CoStar Group, which continues to suggest a sluggish annualized rate of growth. Total shopping-center space trends echo a similar pattern with a 0.2% point gain in 2010 to 7.33 billion sq. ft. of gross leasable area.
“This slow industry expansion in the United States is still part of an adjustment process from the aftermath of the 2007-2009 recession,” observed Michael P. Niemira, VP director of research and chief economist for ICSC. “As the economy continues to grow, however, this more constrained expansion will improve the occupancy rates and make for a more profitable industry.