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Crayola creates new experience at Mall of America

BY Mike Troy

A 60,000-sq.-ft. Crayola Experience has opened at Mall of America, giving the massive shopping center yet another experiential component to generate traffic.

The Crayola Experience is a family attraction that features 25 hands-on activities inspired by Crayola products and technologies and there is also The Crayola Store offering the world's largest selection of Crayola products and unique souvenirs.

"Crayola Experience is an immersive, larger-than-life, creative adventure that we can't wait to share with both locals and tourists,” Crayola CEO Smith Holland said at the grand opening. “This is America's heartland, and our brand has been at the heart of American creativity for 113 years. We hope to inspire countless kids and help create colorful family memories that will last a lifetime."

The Crayola Experience features 25 hands-on attractions and live entertainment. Guests will do everything from name and wrap their own Crayola crayon (Wrap It Up!), star in their own coloring page (Be A Star), paint with melted wax (Meltdown), bring their coloring page to 4-D life and animate it with their touch (Color Magic) and learn how crayons are made in the live Factory Show. Families typically spend four hours playing and creating and leave with a bag full of handmade keepsakes.

Crayola entered the attractions world in 2013, when the company re-imagined Crayola Experience's hometown facility in Easton, Pa. That attraction now welcomes hundreds of thousands of guests annually and opened its second location, in Orlando, Fla., last July.

To experience the Crayola Experience requires a general admission fee of $24.99, but to encourage repeat visits the brand offers an annual pass for only $10 more.

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Express misses on Q1 earnings, sales

BY CSA STAFF

Specialty apparel retailer Express Inc. did not reach Wall Street expectations with declining profit and flat sales in a generally sluggish first quarter of fiscal 2016.

Net income slipped 1% to $12.9 million from $13.1 million in the same quarter the previous fiscal year. Outlet- and IT-related expense growth helped drive down profit.

Net sales stayed essentially flat at $502.9 million, compared to $502.4 million a year earlier. Same-store sales fell 3%, including a 1% dip in e-commerce sales.

Looking ahead, Express sees some rough road for net income and same-store sales. Second quarter net income is forecast at $12-$15 million, compared to $21 million in the second quarter of fiscal 2015. Full-year net income is expected to range from $106-$116 million, compared to $116.5 million the previous fiscal year.

Meanwhile, same-store sales are projected to decline in the mid-single digits for the second quarter and mid-to-low single digits for the full fiscal year.

David Kornberg, Express president and CEO, maintained a positive focus in his remarks.

“In the first quarter, we delivered increased merchandise margin, expansion in gross margin, and higher diluted earnings per share in line with our guidance through the disciplined execution of our strategy,” said Kornberg. “We believe that our product is on trend and we are providing customers with engaging experiences across each of our channels. That being said, our second quarter and full year guidance reflect the challenges presented by the current retail environment.”

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Chico’s names retail veteran as new corporate counsel

BY CSA STAFF

Chico's FAS Inc. has appointed Susan Lanigan as executive VP and general counsel.

Lanigan has 25 years of professional experience and more than 15 years of business experience in the retail industry, including serving as executive VP, general counsel of Dollar General Corp.

"Susan brings a remarkable record helping prominent national retailers successfully navigate complex legal, compliance and regulatory issues,” said Shelley Broader, president and CEO of Chico's FAS. “Throughout her career, she has also been a strong partner to boards and management, advising on strategic planning, business analysis and governance matters.”

Lanigan most recently served as chair of the Tennessee Education Lottery Commission. Previously, she served as executive VP and general counsel of Dollar General Corp. from 2002 to 2013. Prior to Dollar General, Lanigan’s retail industry experience included serving as general counsel for Zale Corp.

In connection with her appointment, Lanigan participated in recent discussions regarding the company's corporate governance. Those discussions resulted in the following governance enhancements announced by Chico’s in conjunction with the announcement of Lanigan’s hire:

· Annual election of directors: In the proxy materials for the 2016 annual meeting, the Chico's board of directors intends to include a recommendation for a company-sponsored proposal to declassify the board by class over a three-year period, such that the entire Board would stand for election at the 2019 annual meeting.

· Codifying a policy regarding over-boarding: As part of its governance policies and processes, Chico's has adopted a formal policy limiting directors to service on four public company boards of directors, in addition to the Chico's board.

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