REAL ESTATE

Claire’s to make retail debuts in Venezuela and Panama

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Chicago — Claire’s Stores Inc. said Tuesday that it has opened its first stores in Venezuela and Panama; the Venezuelan store opened on Oct. 12 in Sambil Paraguna Mall in Punto Fijo and the Panama store opened Oct. 27 at Metro Mall.

Claire’s has partnered with locally headquartered Grupo David Enterprises as the single franchisee across 16 countries in Latin America. Over time, Claire’s said it expects these countries to present a minimum 100 stores market opportunity.

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Survey: Consumers open to restaurant technologies

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Chicago — Survey results released Tuesday by Technomic found that restaurant goers are increasingly open to trying new technologies in the dining environment.

According to the survey, a majority of consumers expect to use technology to order food at restaurants more often in the coming year, and very few (just 3%) expect to use it less than they currently do.

Consumers expressed the most interest in tableside touchscreen devices that enable them to self-order and pay, iPad/tablet menus and digital rewards tied to loyalty programs.

"Technology can be used as a point of differentiation within the restaurant industry…especially with Millennials," said Technomic executive VP Darren Tristano. "Operators who stay ahead of the curve, in an increasingly competitive market, will need to evaluate the best use for the latest tech trends and decide how to integrate them into their operations in a way that’s efficient and beneficial to consumers.”

Other key survey findings include:

  • More than half (51%) consider it important for restaurants to integrate technology into their ordering capabilities.
  • Technologies related to ordering, coupons or special offers sent via email or text message have the highest usage rates. Nearly 60% of panelists say they use these at least once a month.
  • Among technologies designed to entertain restaurant-goers, Wi-Fi access and LCD flat-screen TVs are used the most.
  • Out of all restaurant segments and types of retail stores, consumers are most receptive to technology-based orders at casual-dining restaurants.
  • In general, younger consumers are more interested in technology at restaurants than older diners. Consumers from 18–44 years old are far more likely than those over 45 to say they might connect to their favorite restaurants via a mobile app and order using a touchscreen kiosk. Interest is highest among 25- to 34-year-old Millennials.
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REAL ESTATE

LaVida Massage to open 13 centers before year’s end

BY CSA STAFF

Commerce, Mich. — Health and wellness retailer LaVida Massage said Tuesday it will have opened at least 13 new franchised units before the end of 2012. Another eight are slated to open in early 2013.

LaVida currently operates 45 centers nationwide.

Our rapid expansion continues to yield strong results for LaVida, despite a struggling economy,” said Evan Kaltschmidt, COO.

The new centers are located in California, Georgia, Illinois (2), Michigan (3), New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia.

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