FINANCE

Borders gets court OK to liquidate; seeks approval to sell 30-35 stores to Books-a-Million

BY Marianne Wilson

Ann Arbor, Mich. — Borders Group on Thursday won court approval to liquidate its remaining 399 stores, even as it negotiates to sell up to 35 stores to Books-a-Million.

"This is a bittersweet day," said U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Martin Glenn before a packed courtroom. "There are a lot of sad people around the country, a lot of sad people in the corporate headquarters. But there has been a late-breaking development."

Borders had alluded to an interested buyer earlier, and it court on Thursday it identified the possible suitor as Books-a-Million in court. Based in Birmingham, Ala., Books-a-Million wants to buy the leases and assets of 30 to 35 Borders stores.

The judge told Borders to get the offer from Books-a-Million in writing. A scheduled hearing was put on hold so the company could have time to document terms of the last-minute offer.

A liquidation group led by Hilco Merchant Resources and Gordon Brothers Retail Partners LLC, Borders will start going-out-of-business sales Friday at nearly all the chain’s stores.

Borders will keep the rights to its brand name and leases and hold separate auction processes for those assets. Gordon Brothers’ DJM Realty will market the leases.

Borders has said it plans to close all of its stores in phases by September.

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STORE SPACES

Marks & Spencer’s greenest store is 100% lit with LEDs

BY Marianne Wilson

New York City — Marks & Spencer’s new Simply Food in Sheffield, England, is its greenest store to date, incorporating an array of sustainable design and construction features. The 12,430-sq.-ft. supermarket also has the distinction of being the first store in the United Kingdom to be 100% lit with LED technology (from Philips).

By applying LEDs across the parking lot, store floor and backroom areas, Marks & Spencer can expect to realize typical energy savings of between 25%-30% on its lighting electricity usage in comparison with other stores using conventional light sources, according to Philips. A lighting control system (Philips’ Dynalite) is expected to increase savings even further.

In addition to the energy savings, the store will also benefit from a reduction in maintenance costs as the long life of the LED sources means that no re-lamping should be required through the life of the store.

Daylight harvesting is also being used, with the lights controlled to take advantage of the natural daylight that pours in through the windows. The luminaires are automatically dimmed within the area so that a constant level of light is maintained.

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REAL ESTATE

McDonald’s to build its biggest store ever, in London for 2012 Olympics

BY Marianne Wilson

New York City — McDonald’s Corp. plans to build the largest restaurant in its system as part of its role as official restaurant of the 2012 Olympic Games in London. The chain has been an Olympics sponsor since 1976.

Speaking in a global webcast on July 20, McDonald’s UK CEO Jill McDonald said the planned restaurant will span 32,290 sq.-ft. over two levels, and will have a kitchen four times standard size to accommodate the crowds. The chain says it expects to serve 1.75 million meals during the games, which run from July 27 to Aug. 12, 2012.

The restaurant is being designed by French architect Philippe Avanzi, who worked on the 2009 modernization of McDonald’s units in Manhattan.

The super-sized restaurant is one of four temporary McDonald’s that will be built in and near the Olympics park in east London. (Two will be open to the public, the others are in areas open only to the athletes and media.) All the units are being designed to be disassembled after the games, with their various components (including furniture and kitchen equipment) recycled into other McDonald’s locations.

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