OPERATIONS

Barneys CEO unveils renovation plans

BY CSA STAFF

New York City — Barneys New York CEO Mark Lee said Monday that he has plans to launch a renovation program for existing stores as well as an overhaul to the retailer’s website.

According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, Lee said at a Monday morning breakfast that changes will be substantial, as the retailer has the largest renovation budget for existing stores that Barneys has seen in at least seven years.

Website changes include a Monday launch of a micro-site on Barneys.com called "The Window" which will be updated daily and feature postings about the history and inspiration of Barneys windows, in addition to editorial content about the company’s history and heritage.

Lee took over from Howard Socol, who resigned in 2008.

Barneys recently announced that it was closing stores in Houston, White Plains, N.Y. and in Troy, Mich.

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OPERATIONS

Report: Retailers added more jobs in January

BY CSA STAFF

Washington, D.C. — A report released Monday by The Conference Board said that retail employers expanded their work forces in January.

The Conference Board’s Employment Trends Index increased 0.2% to 100.5, the highest level in two years. The measure rose 7% from a year earlier.

“Employment growth is poised to accelerate,” Gad Levanon, associate director of macroeconomic research at the Conference Board, said. “Economic data as well as confidence measures have improved, and since employment growth typically lags, we expect larger numbers of jobs to be added back into the economy in coming months.”

The Employment Trends Index aggregates eight labor-market indicators to forecast short-term hiring trends. On average, the gauge can signal a rebound in hiring as little as three months before the fact and can predict job declines six to nine months in advance, the Conference Board said.

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Report: Kronos retail labor index reaches near two-year high

BY CSA STAFF

Chelmsford, Mass. — Kronos on Monday announced the release of its Retail Labor Index, which showed a February increase to 4.2% from 3.85% in January. (This metric is defined as the percentage of job applications that result in a hiring, normalized within a scale of 0 to 100. A level of 3.0% means that for every 100 applications received, three hirings occurred.)

February’s metric is the highest the Index has been since August 2008 when it reached 4.45%, according to Kronos.

The retailers representing 27,034 distributed locations across the United States that make up the Kronos data sample recorded 37,129 hirings (on a seasonally adjusted basis) in January, a significant 41.61% decrease from the December 2010 seasonally adjusted figure of 63,587. The January 2011 figure represents a 9.61% increase over the 33,873 hirings that occurred in January 2010.

The supply of applications also decreased significantly to a seasonally adjusted level of 883,843 in January. The January figure represented a 46.55% decrease from the 1,653,520 applications processed in December 2010 and a 39.41% decrease from the 1,458,728 applications processed in January 2010.

Employee retention, the percentage of employees remaining on the job 60 days or more, was 82.50% in January 2011, a decrease of 1.47% from December 2010 and the first notable drop in the past 12 months.

“Applications and hiring were down significantly this month, but the combination pushed the Index up to its highest point since August 2008,” said Dr. Robert Yerex, chief economist, Kronos. “Overall, 2010 was a year in which we saw retailers reduce their overall labor capacity by almost 10%.”

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