FINANCE

Candy retailer acquired with eye to expansion

BY Marianne Wilson

The nation's largest specialty candy retailer may soon get even bigger.

BBX Capital Corp. has acquired It’Sugar for approximately $57 million. BBX said it plans to expand It'Sugar, which currently operates 95 locations in 26 states, by opening new retail stores in high-traffic leisure locations.

BBX has taken a 93% majority stake in the company. Jeff Rubin, founder and CEO of It'Sugar, will remain in his current position and continue to hold a "meaningful" membership interest. The specialty retailer will operate within the BBX Sweet Holdings vertical, which also includes Hoffman's Chocolates, Anastasia Confections, Droga Chocolates, and several other candy makers.

“We are pleased to announce our investment in It’Sugar and believe the business is an excellent fit with the growth strategy of BBX Sweet Holdings," commented Jarett Levan, president of BBX Capital. "It’Sugar has had great success expanding its presence across the United States as a modern day candy playground, and we are very pleased to partner with Jeff Rubin and the It'Sugar management team to support continued expansion of its retail footprint and grow the brand in other channels.”

During the 12 months ended April 30, 2017, It’Sugar generated net revenues of $78.4 million. Headquartered in Deerfield Beach, the company was founded by Rubin in 2006. Stores are bright and colorful with an irreverent edge, and designed to immerse customers in the sights, smells and tastes of their favorite sweets.

Previously, Rubin created F.A.O. Schwartz's candy business, F.A.O. Schweetz, and co-founded Dylan’s Candy Bar.

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MARKETING/SOCIAL MEDIA

Study: Saving money tops parents’ back-to-school shopping lists

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Parents are pulling back on their back-to-school spending, and making “essential” school supplies their top priorities.

This was according to a new survey from Ebates and global internet services company Rakuten. The study, which was conducted online by Propeller Insights in June 2017, tapped 1,001 adults and 500 teens.

Many parents (42%) plan to spend between $100 and $300 this back-to-school shopping season — significantly less than the $250-$500 they planned to spend last year. The survey also discovered that a majority of American parents (80%) are likely to take advantage of back to school promotions.

Keeping a keen eye on back-to-school essentials this year, both parents and teens are in sync regarding what those top needs are. Both groups said that clothing and shoes were on top of their shopping lists (73% for parents and 60% for teens). This is followed by pens/pencils/notebooks (19% for parents, 33% for teens), and a backpack or school bag (7% for parents, 6% for teens).

“Our Back to School survey found that budgets are smaller this year, and that parents and teens are shopping for the tried-and-true back to school essentials,” said Amit Patel, CEO of Ebates.

When it comes to “fun” back-to-school items, accessories win for both parents (58%) and teens (61%). Lower on the list were headphones (36% for parents and 49% for teens); laptops (34% parents, 25% teens), sporting goods (both at 30%), cell phones (23% for parents, 19% for teens), and iPads or other tablets (23% parents, 12% for teens).

The majority of teens (66%) also plan to get a haircut over the summer. Meanwhile, college students plan to buy microwaves (24%), mini fridges (22%), futons (15%) and hot plates (11%).

Where parents and teens differ is the items they dread purchasing. Teens don’t like shopping for pens and pencils (33%), while parents dread buying clothes and shoes (50%).

More than two-thirds (36%) of American parents said that they typically end up purchasing all of their back to school supplies from three stores, and 30% will buy from just two. However, physical stores are not the only place back-to-school shoppers are getting their inspiration.

Social media is going to play a strong role in helping teens with their back to school shopping decisions. When asked which platform they use most frequently, teens said they use Instagram (68%) and Snapchat (67%) equally. Facebook was far behind, with only 39% of teens using it the most.

College students rated Facebook much higher, at 66%. However, this age demographic uses Instagram (71%) and Snapchat (67%) with about the same frequency, the study said.

When it comes to which social media platform is most helpful when finding back-to-school items to purchase, younger teens selected Instagram (45%), while college students chose Facebook (53%), the study said.

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ECOMMERCE

Online giant in big supply chain hiring push

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Amazon is making good on its promise to hire 130,000 workers by 2018.

The online giant announced Wednesday that it plans to fill more than 50,000 roles across its fulfillment network in the United States. Amazon is hiring “tens of thousands” full-time associates who will pick, pack and ship customer orders from its fulfillment centers. It will also fill supporting and managerial roles within its facilities, including human resources managers, IT specialists, and operations leaders, among other positions, the retailer said.

Amazon also plans on filling more than 10,000 part-time jobs at its sortation centers. These associates will sort and consolidate customer packages to enable speedy shipping and Sunday deliveries.

These new positions coincide with Amazon’s plan to add approximately 130,000 new jobs over the next 18 months. Specifically, the retailer expects to fill 100,000 full-time roles and more 30,000 part-time positions.

When the task is complete, Amazon's U.S. workforce could swell to approximately 300,000. This eclipses a workforce of 30,000 employees in 2011, according to The Wall Street Journal.

To bolster its talent search, Amazon is hosting a multi-state job fair on Aug. 2. Called Amazon Job Day, the event invites candidates to visit one of 10 fulfillment centers where they can apply for jobs, take tours of the facility, learn about the technology used throughout the fulfillment network, and attend information sessions. Job fairs will be held in fulfillment centers in Maryland, Tennessee, Ohio, Massachusetts, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Washington, New Jersey, Illinois and Indiana.

Candidates can also apply for positions off-site at the retailer’s Buffalo, New York and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma facilities, according to Amazon.

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