FINANCE

Chipotle to raise prices for first time in three years

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Denver — Chipotle Mexican Grill said it will hike prices for the first time in three years, saying that customer loyalty will insulate the chain from pricing fallout.

New menu boards reflecting the 3%-5% higher prices will be in place at all restaurants by this summer, said Chipotle.

In defense of the raised prices, CFO Jack Hartung said in a conference call with analysts that "most of the value comes from the experience." He added that the chain had earned "permission" from customers to raise prices because of that experience.

Hartung suggested that additional price increases could be in the offing. "We’ve still got room," he said.

Chipotle’s decision was based on rising costs from goods such as beef, avocados and cheese, which have negatively impacted margins. First-quarter net income missed Wall Street expectations. Sales, however, rose 13.4% in the first quarter and, said Chipotle, the increased pricing will drop more dollars to the bottom line and ease margin pressures.

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REAL ESTATE

Nordstrom to relocate San Diego store as part of mall redevelopment

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Seattle — Nordstrom announced plans to relocate its full-line Westfield University Towne Center (UTC) department store in San Diego to a new space within the evolving mall.

The new two-level, 145,000-sq.-ft. Nordstrom store will open in 2017 as part of Westfield UTC’s resort-inspired redevelopment, which is adding specialty shops, restaurants, entertainment, sustainable design features and family-friendly amenities, as well as structured parking.

Nordstrom’s current 130,000-sq.-ft. store has been in operation since September 1984. It will remain open until the new store comes on line in 2017.

Nordstrom operates three other full-line stores in the greater San Diego area at Fashion Valley and Westfield Horton Plaza in San Diego and Westfield North County in Escondido.

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MARKETING/SOCIAL MEDIA

Walgreens’ Balance Rewards loyalty program recognized for growth, innovation

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Deerfield, Ill. — The rapid adoption of Walgreens’ Balance Rewards loyalty program, with nearly 80 million members, has earned the chain a ranking among top business technology innovators in the U.S.

Walgreens is ranked No. 60 on the 2014 InformationWeek Elite 100.

“This is great recognition for the work Walgreens has done to develop an omnichannel solution that ties customers’ online and mobile experiences to our stores in communities across America,” said Tim Theriault, Walgreens chief information, innovation & improvement officer. “As technology continues to evolve and influence consumer behavior, Walgreens will continue to innovate and offer solutions to help people get, stay and live well.”

Balance Rewards, the nation’s largest loyalty program, launched in fall 2012 and offers points and rewards on a variety of items, prescriptions and immunizations.

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