REAL ESTATE

Closing time for The Limited stores

BY Marianne Wilson

Apparel retailer The Limited is out of the brick-and-mortar retail business.

The ailing chain, which has quietly been closing stores around the country for the past couple of weeks, announced the news with a short statement on its website on Friday, Jan. 6. The move was not unexpected. Limited has struggled amid increased competition from fast-fashion upstarts, both offline and online.

“We’re sad to say that all The Limited stores nationwide have officially closed their doors,” the company stated. (According to several reports, however, some Limited stores were still open as of Friday but were due to close by the end of business on Sunday, Jan. 8)

The retailer, which has not filed for Chapter 11, also stated that it will continue to operate online. But the company gave no indication of whether it was a temporary move to sell off inventory or not.

The Limited, which is owned by Sun Capital Partners, has been laying off headquarters staff since the beginning of December.

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TECHNOLOGY

Albertsons in online program benefitting low-income shoppers

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Albertsons is helping expand online grocery purchases to low-income individuals nationwide.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has selected Albertsons Companies to participate in the online purchasing pilot for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) — a service targeting low-income households.

SNAP, formerly called the Food Stamp program, is supported by state agencies, nutrition educators, and neighborhood and faith-based organizations to ensure individuals eligible for nutrition assistance can apply for the program, make informed decisions, and access benefits.

Available in three of the grocer’s operating divisions in Maryland, Oregon and Washington State, the online pilot will enable SNAP participants to shop online and have their groceries delivered.

The pilot, which will run for two years, will launch on Shop.safeway.com in August. It will be one of seven online grocery retail sites to test and implement the service, the company said.

As the pilot progresses, the company will work with the USDA on a time-line to offer SNAP online ordering and delivery service through shop.albertsons.com, and the company's other online grocery shopping sites.

"The SNAP online purchasing pilot is at the intersection of innovation and community improvement, and Albertsons Companies is honored to have been selected to participate," said Shane Sampson, the grocer’s chief marketing and merchandising officer. "Enabling SNAP participants to shop online and have their groceries delivered makes fresh foods more accessible to everyone, including those who may not be able to make a weekly trip to the store. We're proud to be part of combatting food inse-curity in these communities."

Albertsons operates stores in 12 states and the District of Columbia under the regional banners of Safeway, Vons, Albertsons, Tom Thumb, and Randalls.

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FINANCE

Neiman Marcus scraps IPO

BY Marianne Wilson

Neiman Marcus Group is not going public anytime soon.

In a filing on Friday, the luxury department store retailer said it would withdraw its initial public offering, having determined "that it is not in its best interests" to proceed with the initial public offering at the current time.

The news came amid a lackluster holiday season for both high-end and mid-range department store retailers. Neiman Marcus posted a wider loss for its first quarter, ended Oct. 28, 2016, with an 8% decrease in same-store sales.

Neiman Marcus filed with regulators to go public in August 2015, some two years after it purchased by Ares Management LLC and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board in a $6 billion buyout. It delayed those plans later that same year.

Only three retail companies went public in the U.S. last year, according to a Bloomberg report, raising a combined $314 million. That compares with seven IPOs in 2015, which raised $1.2 billion, and 11 listings in 2014 for volume of $1.7 billion, the report said.

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