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Chipotle to Expand in Europe

BY CSA STAFF

New York City Chipotle Mexican Grill Monday announced plans to enter the European market with the opening of its first location in London late this year, according to Rocky Mountain News.

Chipotle said it will use the U.K. restaurant as a base for European expansion, although the company expects to continue to focus the majority of its growth in the United States, the report said.

“We plan to open one restaurant in London before the end of 2009, find a group of farmers and ranchers who can supply us with the highest quality food and begin to find a group of top-performing managers who can help us establish a very special Chipotle brand in Europe,” said Steve Ells, Chipotle founder and CEO, in a statement.

In other news, Chipotle announced the promotion of president and COO Monty Moran to co-CEO. He will share the title with Ells.

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iPhone coming to Target?

BY CSA STAFF

The increasing tendency on the part of Apple to sell its products through mass market retailers suggests that its popular iPhone could eventually be available at Target stores.

The iPhone was initially sold at Best Buy, and then last week distribution was extended to Walmart, where a major launch involved the use of special in-store fixtures and prominent positioning in advertising including the front cover of the retailer’s most recent circular.

From Apple’s standpoint, the move increases consumer access to the popular product, whereas for Walmart, the iPhone brings added brand cache to an electronics department that has undergone a significant makeover the past few years. Apparently, the brand halo of Apple was worth a considerable amount to Walmart as the company agreed to sell the iPhone for only $2 less than the price at which it is offered in Apple’s stores. However, as a company keen on protecting the image and equity of its brand, an Apple distribution agreement with Target would appear to have made more sense since the brand identities of Target and Apple are more closely aligned, even if the short-term sales potential with Walmart is greater.

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Prediction: Target sells credit

BY CSA STAFF

A deteriorating credit environment could make it more likely that Target will sell the remainder of its credit card receivables, according to Citigroup investment analyst Deb Weinswig. That possibility and nine others were listed in a report highlighting 2009 predictions. According to Weinswig, the weak performance of the credit segment in 2008 and continued headwinds in 2009 may lead Target to sell its remaining receivables, possible at fire-sale prices. JP Morgan Chase would be a likely buyer in our view given its significant current investment in the portfolio as well as its strong consumer credit business.

On May 19, 2008, Target sold a 47% undivided interest in its credit receivables to JP Morgan Chase for an initial investment of $3.6 billion.

As for some of Weinswig’s other notable predictions, look for falling membership income at warehouse clubs, increased private brand penetration at Walmart and deteriorating drug store profitability due to prescription drug pressures.

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