OPERATIONS

Christopher & Banks to close 100 stores over next three months

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Minneapolis — Christopher & Banks Corp. announced Friday that it will close about 100 underperforming stores over the next three months, as part of a restructuring plan that also includes format consolidations and workforce reductions.

The women’s apparel retailer said it plans to complete most of the store closings by the end of January 2012, and will accelerate plans to convert or consolidate a number of its existing Christopher & Banks and CJ Banks stores into dual-format stores.

The company also announced that it has implemented a previously announced workforce reduction involving its home office and field management organization.

“We anticipate that these initiatives will help us to both improve overall store productivity and support our return to profitability,” said Larry Barenbaum, president and CEO. RCS Real Estate Advisors, based in New York City, analyzed the store portfolio and assisted Christopher & Banks with the strategic decisions to cut stores.

The workforce reduction impacted 7% of the corporate headquarters employees, excluding the DC, and 13% of its store operations field management team. The retailer currently operates 761 stores in 45 states consisting of 472 Christopher & Banks stores, 238 CJ Banks plus-size stores, 28 dual-concept stores and 23 outlet stores.

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OPERATIONS

Starbucks buys juice company, plans to roll out new concept

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Seattle — Starbucks Corp. announced Thursday plans to reinvent the $1.6 billion premium juice market with its all-cash purchase of San Bernadino, Calif.-based Evolution Fresh for $30 million.

The acquisition, which is part of a strategy to move beyond coffee into the health and wellness segment, gives Starbucks a path to open new health-and-wellness stores in the coming year, it said, although Starbucks has not yet revealed many stores it will open, their location or the name.

Starbucks said the new-concept stores will emphasize Evolution juice and carry wholesome, simple foods. A select number of existing Starbucks stores will be upgraded to carry Evolution products.

Evolution, started by the founder of Naked juice, makes fresh fruit and vegetable juices. Its products are currently sold at Whole Foods, Safeway, Costco, Trader Joe’s and other select retailers on the West Coast. Starbucks said it plans to broaden distribution of the juice into other supermarkets besides carrying them in Starbucks stores starting next year.

"The acquisition of Evolution Fresh supports our growth strategy to innovate with new products, enter new categories, and expand into new channels of distribution," Jeff Hansberry, president of Channel Development for Starbucks, said in a statement. "Not only are we able to tap into the $1.6 billion super-premium juice market, but the acquisition of Evolution Fresh marks an important milestone for us within the $50 billion health-and-wellness sector."

On a conference call, Starbucks chief executive Howard Schultz said, "Even though this is a small acquisition in size, it is a significant and strategic decision for the company."

Evolution Fresh will be a wholly owned subsidiary of Starbucks.

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OPERATIONS

Report: JCP’s Johnson taps former Apple colleagues for new team

BY Katherine Boccaccio

New York City — A Thursday report by the Wall Street Journal said that new J.C. Penney CEO Ron Johnson, who recently left Apple to run the department store chain, is recruiting other former Apple players to join the J.C. Penney team.

According to the report, J.C. Penney is nearing a deal with Michael Kramer, former CFO of Apple Retail from 2000 to 2005 and currently CEO of Kellwood Co., to join J.C. Penney as its COO. WSJ cited people familiar with the matter, and said Kramer will start at Penney effective Dec. 1.

The report also suggested that Johnson will hire former Apple human resources VP Daniel Walker to serve on the J.C. Penney executive team in a yet unnamed position.

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