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Body Central adds apparel expertise

BY CSA STAFF

Veteran apparel merchant Celia Clancy spent time at Bradlees, Walmart and TJX Companies. Now she is the newest member of struggling specialty retailer Body Central’s board of directors.

Clancy joins the board of the value priced specialty retailer as its 271 stores are in free fall. The company reported a 23.1% same store sales decline for the third quarter ended Sept. 27 after a 22.6% comp decline in the period ended June 28. Total third quarter revenues declined 28.6% to $43.4 million from $60.8 million. A third quarter operating loss of $24.3 million was worse than the prior year loss of $15.5 million.

"We are so pleased that Celia Clancy will be bringing to our board her extensive executive experience and expertise in the retail, merchant and e-commerce spaces," said Fred Lamster, Body Central’s board chairman. "Ms. Clancy brings a level of merchandising expertise to the organization that will add value to our continued turnaround efforts. Celia's successful track record of providing leadership and driving shareholder value on behalf of significant retailers and their business units, with a special focus on the diverse female consumer of moderate means which is the key demographic to our brand, will provide us with meaningful guidance as we continue to re-focus our company on its core nightlife product strategy while seeking out opportunities for enhancing value."

Clancy is well known in apparel circles. She was with now defunct regional discounter Bradlees from 1982 to 1997 and also held a senior merchandising role at Walmart from 1997 to 2005. She served as president of the AJWright division of the TJX Companies from 2007 to 2011. More recently she served as president and CEO of Ashely Stewart.

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Report: Retailers unprepared for rise in mobile shoppers

BY Marianne Wilson

Ann Arbor, Mich. — Mobile shopping is expected to reach new highs this holiday season, but retailers aren’t prepared to meet customers’ mobile needs, according to a new CFI Group study, sponsored by eBay Enterprise.

The “Holiday Shopping 2014: Mobile on the Rise” report finds that 70% of consumers have used a smartphone to make a purchase in the last six months, up from 59% in 2013. And 41% of consumers said they plan on making even more purchases with their smartphones in 2015.

The report reveals shoppers are using their phones mostly to compare pricing and read product reviews, but retailer’s tech-enabled associates are using mobile devices primarily for transactional purposes. In fact, the data finds 41% of tech interactions with customers merely facilitated checkout processes. For shoppers that received assistance from a tech-enabled associate, only 24% received assistance comparing store pricing to Web pricing and only 25% received assistance to check competitive pricing. Additionally, only 16 percent of associates were able to access product reviews for a customer.

“We’re witnessing an unprecedented rise in the popularity of mobile shopping and that is likely to increase as shoppers turn to their devices at home and in brick-and-mortar stores this holiday season,” said CFI Group CEO Sheri Petras. “A strong mobile strategy will be the determining factor between this year’s retail winners and losers.”

With little or ineffective internal mobile device use from store associates, the study finds retailers must maximize consumers’ self-service mobile options to be successful this holiday season by creating functional, easy-to-use mobile applications and websites. Fifty-four percent of consumers say they use both mobile commerce sites and applications on their smartphones, though consumers report a 2:1 preference for mobile websites over applications.

While the number of mobile shoppers is rising, fear of security breaches is holding others back, with the lack of comfort with transaction security as the leading cause of refusal to purchase on a handheld device. Forty-two percent of consumers expressed this fear in 2014, up from 34% of consumers in 2013.

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Founding officer of Costco dies at 72

BY Marianne Wilson

Issaquah, Wash.Robert Craves, 72, a founding officer of Costco, died last week shortly after being diagnosed with cancer,The Seattle Timesreported.

Craves helped launch the warehouse club giant after working with Jim Sinegal, another Costco founder and former CEO, at a home-improvement business in California. Sinegal hired Craves as a merchandise manger at that company in the late 1970s and Craves later moved to Seattle. In 1983, Costco opened its first warehouse and became the first company ever to grow from zero to $3 billion in less than six years.

In 1993, Costco merged with Price Club and the combined company operated under the name PriceCostco. The company resumed the Costco name in 1997.

Craves wore many hats at Costco, serving as senior VP of membership, marketing and community outreach until he retired in 2000.

After his retirement, Craves co-founded the College Success Foundation in 2000 to provide college scholarships and mentoring to low-income, high-potential students. Over the years, the foundation has helped thousands of low-income and minority students graduate from college.

"Bob has left a very tall and proud legacy for all of us to continue,” said former Washington State Gov. Gary Locke. “His efforts have inspired and uplifted a generation of young people to help secure a brighter future—not just for them, but for all of us. This is a very sad day for higher education in our state.”

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