STORE SPACES

Bloomberg: Apple to grow aggressively in China

BY Katherine Boccaccio

New York — A Wednesday report by Bloomberg said that Apple plans to double its number of retail stores in China over the next two years to help offset slowing growth worldwide.

CEO Tim Cook said in a Tuesday conference call that Apple’s 2Q sales in the greater China region increased 11% to a record $8.8 billion, from the 67% pace of growth in the prior quarter. A slowdown globally is prompting the company to shore up sales in China, and that is with more units than the current 11, said Cook. But, say analysts, his plan isn’t aggressive enough.

“Doubling stores over two years is simply not enough,” Shaun Rein, managing director of China Market Research Group in Shanghai, told Bloomberg. “Their sales growth is really collapsing.”

The newly announced plan is off the pace set by former head of retail operations Ron Johnson, who set a target of 25 stores by February 2012.

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OPERATIONS

Survey: 20% of smartphone users respond to savings notification

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Whiting, Ind. — Survey results released Wednesday by CouponCabin.com found that one in five smartphone owners have visited a store after receiving notification that specials, coupons or deals were available nearby.

The survey – conducted by Harris Interactive – also found that 70% of smartphone owners would be at least somewhat influenced to make an unplanned purchase at a store after receiving this type of alert.

Smartphone owners see saving money as a top priority, as 47% said they would like to receive geo-targeted coupons on their device for precisely that reason.

Nearly seven-in-10 (67%) said they would be at least somewhat interested in a mobile app that allows them to receive notifications for geo-targeted coupons.

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OPERATIONS

Jones Group to close 170 stores, cut workforce

BY Katherine Boccaccio

New York — The Jones Group Inc. announced Monday that it will put into action a series of events designed to shore up profitability, the most significant of which includes shuttering 170 underperforming stores in the U.S. by mid-2014.

The stores identified for closure include 50 units previously announced in the fourth quarter.

Jones, which owns the Nine West, Jones New York and Anne Klein banners among others, will emerge from the restructuring with a higher percentage of outlet stores in its portfolio, and some units will be converted to more viable sister banners.

"We remain focused on our mission to create the leading global fashion company defined by premier brands,” said CEO Wesley Card.

Other cost-saving initiatives announced by Card include consolidating DCs and cutting staff. About 18% of the company’s retail employees in the U.S. will be terminated, and another 2% of corporate, support and supply chain staff will be cut. Retail staff reductions are already underway and, said the company, will continue through the first half of 2014.

The aggressive cuts come as Jones has struggled to ride out the economy. The company said Monday that it projects first-quarter earnings to be half what they were in the same period last year.

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