FINANCE

Brookstone files Chapter 11; seeks sale to Spencer’s

BY Marianne Wilson

Merrimack, N.H. — Specialty retailer Brookstone Holdings Corp. has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, with a plan to sell itself to Spencer Spirit Holdings, owner of the Spencer’s retail chain, for about $147 million. The purchase price comprises $120 million in cash, $7.5 million in new notes and about $18.5 million of assumed liabilities.

Under the agreement with Spencer Spirit, Brookstone would continue to operate its stores in malls and airports, along with its catalog, website and wholesale business, under the Brookstone brand.

“The retail industry continues to evolve, and staying ahead of the curve is critical,” stated Jim Speltz, Brookstone’s president and chief executive. “A partnership with Spencer Spirit provides us the canvas upon which to sketch our next chapter.”

However, Brookstone’s acquisition by Spencer Spirit may not be a sure thing. Blucoroa, the company that owns online retailer Monoprice, is reportedly preparing an all-cash bid for Brookstone, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Brookstone, which is privately held, lost $18 million in the 13 weeks through Sept. 28, up from a loss of $12 million in the period a year earlier. In its bankruptcy filing, Brookstone estimated that it has liabilities between $100 million and $500 million and assets in the same range.

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FINANCE

Hudson’s Bay Q4 profit falls on expenses; to invest in digital initiatives

BY Marianne Wilson

Toronto — Hudson’s Bay Company’s net profit for the fourth quarter fell to $29.1 million from $86.8 million in the year ago period, amid higher expenses.

The company’s sales for the quarter, ended Feb.1, rose 74% to $2.41 billion, largely driven by the inclusion of Saks, which it acquired in November 2013. Same-store sales rose 6.6%, with an increase of 5.2% at its namesake stores, a 3.1% increase at Saks, and a decline of 1.3% at Lord & Taylor.

The company will make a significant digital investment applying the lessons from Saks’ more developed e-commerce to its other chains, according to The Globe and Mail.

"Following our acquisition of Saks in November, we have developed a strategic roadmap with four core growth strategies," stated Richard Baker, HBC’s governor and CEO. "First is the expansion of HBC Digital to drive sales across all of our banners. Second, we will prioritize the expansion of Off 5th, Saks’ value-oriented format.”

Baken said the retailer plans to significantly increase Off 5th’s presence through new stores and digitally.

“Expansion of Saks into Canada is our third major strategy,” Baker said. “We believe the Canadian market represents an opportunity for up to seven full-line Saks Fifth Avenue locations and up to 25 Off 5th stores, as well as digital commerce initiatives.”

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ARTS releases Change4Charity standard; designed to aid retailers’ charity programs

BY Dan Berthiaume

Washington, D.C. — The Association for Retail Technology Standards (ARTS), a division of the National Retail Federation, is releasing its Change4Charity Standard. If adopted by point-of-sale vendors and donation processors, the standard will lower costs for retailers and support greater participation in charity programs by smaller retailers and non-profits.

The goals for this standard are to support as many different types of selling systems as possible without increasing transaction times and to lower the integration costs for retailers, making it easier to adopt “Change4Charity” programs. ARTS estimates that more than $358 million was raised for nonprofits in 2012 from checkout charity campaigns.

“As more consumers move to electronic payments, the idea of dropping change into a donation jar at the register is fading,” said NRF VP of retail technologies Tom Litchford. “At the moment, the cost of integrating selling systems to separate charities is a barrier for smaller retail companies, and many smaller charities don’t have the resources to take advantage of electronic integrations. We are eager to push this out to retailers who want to make a difference in the communities they serve.”

In addition to solution providers, the Retail Orphan Initiative (ROI) and retail communities, ARTS worked with charity processors for their engagement and assistance.

The work team was chaired by Oracle’s David Dorf with contributions from global POS and loyalty solution providers and retailers. Other contributors were Cisco Systems, Cumulus Data Services, Demandware, Digital Donations, DonateWiseNow, Epicor, MicroStrategy, Mini Donations, PCMS Datafit, PricewaterhouseCoopers, SAP, Starmount and Toshiba Global Commerce Solutions.

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