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Coach posts 4% profit rise in Q4

BY Staff Writer

New York City — Coach reported Tuesday that net income for the fourth quarter rose 4% to $202.5 million, compared with $195.5 million in the year-ago period.

Revenue surged 9% to $1.03 billion, edging Wall Street estimates. Same-store sales rose 10.1% in North America.

Coach’s performance is in line with overall strength in the luxury category. During the recessionary onslaught, the company pushed sales of handbags priced under $300, but said its average retail price of handbags is now inching back up.

For the year, net income rose 20% to $880.8 million. Revenue rose 15% to $4.16 billion.

Wall Street, however, isn’t responding as positively to the results, as analysts say they have come to expect outperformance by the retailer.

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Survey: Majority of e-business pros see mobile experience as priority

BY Katherine Boccaccio

San Francisco — Survey results released by online customer experience management software provider Tealeaf and mobile feedback solution-provider OpinionLab found that the majority of e-business and customer experience professionals feel that the mobile experience is as important as that of a fixed website.

In the survey conducted at the Forrester Customer Experience Forum, recently held in New York City, 84% of respondents said that putting a mobile customer experience strategy in place is just as or more important than customer experience for fixed websites.

“With the unprecedented adoption of mobile devices, it’s becoming an increasing priority to optimize the customer experience on that rapidly growing channel,” said Geoff Galat, VP worldwide marketing at Tealeaf.

According to the survey, 87% of participants believe that online customer experience management is more important now than ever before. In fact, 50% view their online customer experience management strategy as a top priority.

In terms of adoption, half of the survey participants are already actively engaged in this discipline — implementing, executing or measuring a comprehensive online customer experience strategy. The remaining 50% report they are still in the planning and adoption phases.

The top objectives companies have for adopting a CEM strategy this year is to increase customer satisfaction (28%) and to attract new customers (19%). Other priorities include gaining a competitive advantage, increasing sales, retaining customers and gaining insight into customer struggle.

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Talbots adopts poison pill on word of looming buyout

BY Katherine Boccaccio

New York City — The Talbots said on Tuesday that its board of directors has adopted a shareholder rights plan — or a poison pill — to protect its stockholders after a private equity firm disclosed it had acquired a sizeable stake in the company.

On Monday, Sycamore Partners LP revealed it had acquired a 9.9% stake in Talbots and said it planned to attempt to talk with the retailer about strategy and operations.

Reports put Talbots’ market value at $288 million, and suggest a buyout would exceed $400 million.

In its move to protect shareholder value, Talbots adopted the poison pill, which is triggered if an investor acquires 10% or more of the common shares. Oppenheimer Funds, as Talbots’ largest current shareholder with a 10.3% stake, would be excluded from the plan.

Sycamore Partners, now the retailer’s second-largest shareholder, focuses on retail and consumer companies. It was formed by retail investor Stefan Kaluzny, who is chairman of Express and was a managing director of Golden Gate Capital before founding Sycamore Partners. He is also a director at several other companies, including Zale Corp., Eddie Bauer, and J. Jill.

In the filing that disclosed the Talbots stake acquisition, Sycamore said that the retailer’s stock is "undervalued and is an attractive investment," and that it plans to "engage in discussions with management, the board, other stockholders" regarding future plans for the company.

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