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CBL’s digital mall marketing system

BY Michael Fickes

In partnership with PlaceWise Media, CBL & Associates Properties has launched websites with technology that connects retailers and customers at 27 of its malls.

The technology collects deals offered by retailers and puts them in front of shoppers via smartphones and tablets. It provides every retailer and restaurant in a mall with an online presence that enables each to engage local customers.

The websites integrate online, mobile and social media into a single platform and deliver a mix of retailer deals, promotions, fashion and lifestyle editorial content and featured products to shoppers — who can access that information on mobile devices to plan their shopping trips.

Malls, retailers, restaurants and local managers use PlaceWise tools to feature store brands and drive traffic to stores. Retail and restaurant brands use interactive features to provide content and messaging to shoppers and diners. Local store and restaurant managers can also interact directly with local customers.


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Franklin Flea returning to Philadelphia in April

BY Michael Fickes

Philadelphia — Franklin Flea’s successful holiday season earned the once-a-week indoor flea market a return booking for April.

Starting back in November, Franklin Flea brought local artisans and vendors together in Center City Philadelphia to showcase handmade, repurposed and antique items as well as an assortment of artisan foods.

Producer and curator Mark Vevle and Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust, owner of The Gallery, combined forces to bring the market to the city. PREIT provided space for the market’s more than 50 vendors in its historic former Strawbridge and Clothier building at 8th and Market.

Vevle credits Franklin Flea’s location in the thriving Market East section of Philadelphia with the project’s popularity. “The cross-market of shoppers we found in this centralized location was crucial to the success of Franklin Flea, and also paints a colorful picture of the long-term business story we will see in the months to come,” he said.

PREIT CEO Joseph F. Coradino said: ““The success of Franklin Flea speaks volumes to the fact that Philadelphia – especially the Market East corridor – is ready for a fresh, revitalized retail environment, and we are optimistic we will be able to deliver it in the future with a remerchandising of the Gallery.”

Vevle and PREIT have already begun planning Franklin Flea’s return for a spring market in April.


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Bloom out at Family Dollar, Reiser named CMO

BY CSA STAFF

The search is on for a new president and COO at Family Dollar following the resignation of Michael Bloom amid deteriorating financial results and a 3% same store sales decline in December.

Bloom, who recently donned a disguise to appear in an episode of the CBS show "Undercover Boss," spent two years as Family Dollar’s president and COO and joined the company from CVS. In conjunction with his departure, Family Dollar elevated Jason Reiser to the role of EVP and chief merchandising officer and hewill report directly to Family Dollar chairman and CEO Howard Levine. Reiser joined Family Dollar in July 2013 as SVP of merchandising after a 17-year career with Sam’s Club and by October of last year he had already been promoted to the role of SVP/lead merchandising officer.

The senior leadership moves were announced in conjunction with dismal sales results for the company’sfirst quarter ended November 30 and a 3% decline in December same store saleswhich prompted the company to forecast further top lineweakness and lower its profit forecast. Family Dollar said sales for its first quarter ended November 30, increased a meager 3.2% to $2.5 billion due to the addition of new stores. Same store sales declined 2.8% as fewer people shopped its stores and those who did spent less money.

Reversing those trends now falls to new head merchant Reiser who will have responsibility for the company’s merchandising, global sourcing, marketing, replenishment and financial planning teams.

“Continuing to refine our assortment to meet the needs of our customer is critical to being a compelling place to shop,” said Levine. “Jason’s proven leadership, merchandising experience and deep understanding of our customer position him well to ensure that we grow both customer trips and market share.”

Improvement is not expected to be immediate, however, as Levine noted a challenged consumer and intensified promotional environment continue to affect the company’s business. That was the case in December when Levine said the company was forced to react to softness in discretionary categories by becoming more promotional.

"Reflecting our December results, our expectations that the macroeconomic trends will continue, and the impact of investments we plan to make to strengthen our value proposition, we have lowered our earnings expectations for the second quarter of fiscal 2014 and the full year,” Levine said. “While we have made meaningful progress to improve our execution, our financial performance has not met our expectations. We have a great business model and ample growth opportunity, and I know we can do better.”

The immediate focus for Family Dollar, according to Levine, is to execute the basics of retail; re-accelerate customer traffic, strengthen the value proposition and enhance the relevancy of its assortment.

“We also intend to maintain our focus on reducing costs while also selectively investing in new stores, our renovation program and supply chain improvements to position our long-term growth,” Levine said.

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