FINANCE

Bill Ackman selling entire stake in J.C. Penney

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Hedge fund manager and activist investor William Ackman is selling his entire stake in J.C. Penney.

Ackman’s Pershing Square Capital Management, Penney’s single biggest shareholder with an approximate 18% stake, is offering its roughly 39.1 million shares for sale and used Citigroup as the bookrunner for the deal, Reuters reported. Penney filed a prospectus for the sale.

The move comes two weeks after Ackman resigned from Penney’s board after a fight with his fellow directors. Ackman wanted to replace interim CEO Myron Ullman sooner rather than later. He also called for the chairman to be replaced.

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OPERATIONS

Report: Starbucks not cutting health care benefits as new healthcare law looms

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Starbucks Coffee Co. does not to plan to follow in the footsteps of some other companies that are cutting health insurance benefits or reducing employees working hours in anticipation of the U.S. Affordable Care Act, Reuters reported.

"Other companies have announced that they won’t provide coverage for spouses; others are lobbying for the cut-off to be at 40 hours,” Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said in a telephone interview with Reuters. “But Starbucks will continue maintaining benefits for partners and won’t use the new law as excuse to cut benefits or lower benefits for its workers.”

The new law requires companies with more than 50 employees to offer health insurance for employees who work 30 hours a week or more. Starbucks currently provides healthcare to part-timers who work 20 hours a week or more.

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News

SAP uses social sentiment to analyze back-to-school shopping

BY Dan Berthiaume

New York — Parents shopping for back –to-school goods react positively to ads that focus on sales and deals to maximize their appeal to shoppers, according to SAP Retail, and they react negatively to commercials that only serve as a reminder of the season. Using SAP’s social media analytics software, the company gathered social sentiment around the 2013 back-to-school season, analyzing more than 600,000 conversations across social channels, including Twitter and Facebook. The key takeaway for retailers: Analyzing social sentiment can uncover buying trends that aren’t as apparent in sales data. If they aren’t doing their own analysis, retailers are missing out on insights that will help them understand the 360 degree view of consumers.

In addition, SAP analysis indicates that 56% of social media conversations parents have about back-to-school shopping relates to in-store experiences, while 44% refer to online experiences, suggesting that retailers need to offer back-to-school deals across both channels. In addition, families tend to perform in-store back-to-school shopping together.

Other insights include a tendency for social media conversations about more expensive back-to-school purchases like electronics and apparel to slowly grow through June and July and plateau in early August, while conversations about less expensive purchases like school supplies sharply increase through July and early August and then dramatically increase in late August. Consequently, SAP advises retailers to time promotions about different types of back-to-school products according to buying season for a specific category.

View the infographic developed by SAP that illustrates its findings and shows social sentiment analysis can help retailers forecast for the 2014 season:


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