STORE SPACES

Darden Restaurants launches green design initiative

BY CSA STAFF

Orlando, Fla. Darden Restaurants has begun a chain-wide sustainable restaurant design initiative involving the use of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards in its restaurant design process for all new restaurants and, where feasible, restaurant remodels. The initiative is part of Darden’s broader sustainability efforts aimed at limiting business impact on the environment while also enhancing the operational efficiency of its restaurants.

Darden’s three largest brands — Red Lobster, Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse — are designing eight restaurants to achieve LEED certification. The first of the eight, an Olive Garden location in Jonesboro, Ark., opened last month. One more Olive Garden and two Red Lobsters are scheduled to open in 2010, followed by one Olive Garden, two Red Lobsters and one LongHorn Steakhouse in 2011.

“Our goal with this initiative is to utilize each of the eight restaurants as a learning lab,” said Suk Singh, senior VP development for Darden. “While we may not seek LEED certification for every restaurant we build or remodel, we can make a positive impact by learning from the eight restaurants where we are seeking LEED certification and applying best practices across our entire portfolio.

The sustainable design elements featured in the new Olive Garden in Jonesboro, Ark., include:

  • Recycled building materials: Supplies such as sheetrock, doors and windows were made from recycled content. The flooring features carpet squares made from 100% recycled materials.
  • Increased use of natural light: Incorporating more windows more frequently into the building’s exterior reduces the need for artificial light.
  • Energy efficient equipment and fixtures: Items such as Energy Star rated equipment and low-flow water nozzles in the kitchen, as well as automatic faucets in the restrooms, reduce energy and water usage. New LED light bulbs that utilize seven watts of energy and last up to 50,000 hours replace bulbs that used 75 watts and had to be changed two to three times a year.
  • Reclaimed heat: To supplement the heating of hot water in the kitchen, heat expelled from the condensing units of the HVAC system and the freezer/cooler condensing units is reclaimed and used to heat water.

Darden’s corporate headquarters facility in Orlando, Fla., is on track to earn LEED Gold certification.

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Sharpening business performance: How business intelligence helps

BY CSA STAFF

By Andrew Woodward, [email protected]

The past year has been one of the most challenging in the history of modern retail. Yet among the tales of woe, there have been some surprising successes:

  • One electronics and appliances retailer doubled their market share among mailed segments and achieved a 129% increase in penetration during a promotion.
  • A national retailer avoided an initial panic-driven response to declining sales figures and saved itself from an expensive discounting campaign and incurring steep associated markdown costs.
  • A restaurant chain executed a direct-mail campaign whose response rate was well in excess of 10% — an outstanding response rate for a prospect mailing in the midst of heavy promotional activity across the whole category.

How were these results possible, even in the midst of a recession? These merchants applied powerful analytic tools to generate timely and granular information, which provided them with robust, data-driven actionable insights.

Skillful merchants know the value of robust, granular information, and have always used their own sales data to guide everything from merchandising to pricing decisions to store design. But effective retailing that aims to grow market share requires an accurate picture of the broader competitive landscape as well. Sales performance is only good (or bad) by comparison — and particularly in this economy, good benchmarking data is key. Is a 3% increase in sales a success on today’s market? Not if your competitive set is up by 6%.

Merchants try to understand their industry using multiple sources — monitoring competitor’s financial statements, survey-based research panels, data co-ops, industry analysts, trade publications and the trade ‘rumor mill.’ Increasingly, though, they are finding that these sources are no longer sufficient for benchmarking their current performance or forecasting industry sales for the coming 12 months.

On the one hand, the retail environment has become more complex than ever. Category sales have become more volatile. The growth of different sales channels — stores, online, catalog, mobile — and the expansion of major players into new product categories – as grocers move into non-food, apparel players add home goods or online merchants add new lines — make it very complicated for some retailers to gauge their market share – to assess the true value, loyalty or potential of their existing customers — or to effectively target the best prospects for acquisition.

At the same time, merchants are aware of the enormous strides being made in information and analytics. So the best among them are seeking more accessible, timely, granular and reliable sources of insight. Those who have been able to find it, have leveraged it to great advantage. The electronics and appliance retailer used sophisticated behavioral based targeting to drive its marketing program. The national chain used a detailed study of the competitive set to discover that they were gaining market share. And the restaurant chain used consumer spending patterns to identify good candidates for their offer.

Even as the recession ends, consumers remain very cautious, credit remains tight and the battle for share of wallet becomes ever more competitive. But we have seen that growing store traffic, sales and profit is possible. Information and data-driven insights are the enabling factors to deliver the performance numbers merchants are looking for.

Andrew Woodward, senior VP, merchant solutions for MasterCard Advisors. He can be reached at [email protected].

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Charming Shoppes names new human resources head

BY CSA STAFF

BENSALEM, Pa. Charming Shoppes announced the appointment of Fredrick Lamster as EVP human resources, effective immediately. He will serve as a member of Charming Shoppes’ executive leadership team, and will report to president and CEO, Jim Fogarty.

Most recently, Lamster held the position of SVP and chief human resources officer at Southpole. Between 2005 and 2007, he was SVP human resources, for Aeropostale.  Fred spent the majority of his human resources career as an executive with the Limited Stores, Cacique and the corporate divisions of Limited Brands.  During his 13 years at Limited Brands, he held positions of increasing responsibility, and ultimately held the role of EVP human resources, at the Limited Stores division.  

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