FINANCE

CIT Study: Middle-market companies poised for growth in 2013

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — More than half (53%) of middle market executives believe that their companies are on solid ground, according to a survey by CIT Group Inc., a leading provider of financing to small businesses and middle market companies. (In order to be eligible to participate in the survey, respondents had to be in a leadership role at firms with revenues between $25 million and $1 billion, the majority of whose employees were based in the United States.)

Additionally, the majority of respondents reported that, during the next 12 months, their companies are likely to: increase the range of products and services they offer in current markets (65%); expand into adjacent markets (58%); and enter other geographic regions (54%).

The study, “CIT Voice of the Middle Market: Perspectives from the Heart of America’s Economy,” also found that 42% middle-market companies expect to expand their workforce in the coming year.

In other findings:

  • Overall satisfaction with financing proves high. Eight in 10 middle market executives (81%) report that they are satisfied with their company’s access to financing, as well as the cost of financing for their company. Most also say that they are satisfied with the variety of financing alternatives available to their company (79%).
  • Looking ahead to the next 12 months, middle market executives express concern about continued economic uncertainty at the national level (83%) and talent management — the ability to retain top talent (59%) and to hire top talent (55%). Additionally, more than half (56%) are concerned about compliance with federal regulations, and healthcare reform tops the list of existing or pending federal legislation or regulation with the greatest impact on their companies.
  • Many middle market companies seem to fall short on their strategic management capacity. Based on the findings of the study and questions about company strategy, organization structure, effectiveness of business units, measuring and rewarding performance, and organizational culture, researchers developed an index to rate the management capacity of middle market companies. According to this index, only 26% of middle market executives represent companies that have strong strategic management.

KRC Research, on behalf of CIT, fielded an online survey among 300 U.S. middle market executives representing a range of industries. Researchers conducted fieldwork in the summer of 2012. In order to be eligible to participate in the survey, respondents had to be in a leadership role at firms with revenues between $25 million and $1 billion, the majority of whose employees were based in the United States.

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REAL ESTATE

Domino’s Pizza’s new format puts spotlight on pizza-making

BY Marianne Wilson

Columbus, Ohio — Domino’s Pizza’s new “Pizza Theater” store design, developed in partnership with strategic branding and design firm Chute Gerdeman, brings the art and skill of pizza-making front and center.

Under the new design, the service counter, which had always been positioned perpendicular to the store entrance, has been rotated 90 degrees to run length-wise, with the “Pizza Theater” area — where the chefs hand toss fresh dough and make each order — at the front and the cash register at the back. There is even a step platform so that children can see the action. And a chalkboard wall offers a creative outlet for kids of all ages.

“Now, the first thing customers see is the best thing Domino’s does…pizza-making,” said Lynn Rosenbaum, VP environments, Chute Gerdeman. “Before they even enter the store, they see a fun, entertaining and welcoming environment.”

Other new design features include a dining room with plenty of diversions to entertain customers while they wait for their pizza. Technology comes into play as well, with an order kiosk and Pizza Tracker—an electronic, personalized status board so that customers can track their orders.

The color palette pays homage to Domino’s red, white and blue colors, but has been enhanced with some warmer colors, including a fresh-baked ochre color called “Crust.”

Complementing the new store design is a new, single-tile logo — marking a significant change in the branding of the 52-year-old company.

More than a dozen of the new concept stores have been built throughout the U.S. All have scored high in improved brand perception and likelihood to recommend.

Click here to see photos.

Going forward, all new stores built in the U.S. and a number of countries around the world will feature the new logo and key components of the new design.

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REAL ESTATE

Report: H&M headed to Times Square

BY Staff Writer

New York — Hennes & Mauritz AB has cut a deal to open in Manhattan’s Times Square, the New York Post reported.

According to the report, H&M will move into the three-floor, 42,510-sq.-ft. space at 4 Times Square that was previously occupied by the restaurant ESPN Zone. The space, which has been vacant for some two years, includes two huge billboards that wrap above the store’s facade along Broadway and West 42nd Street.

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