FINANCE

Department store retailer steps back from the off-price retail game

BY Marianne Wilson

Off-price retailing is hot, but Neiman Marcus is emphasizing what it knows best.

Neiman Marcus will close 10 of its 38 off-price Last Call stores in order to focus on its full-line luxury department stores. Prior to the news, the retailer has already closed three Last Call outlets this year, including its locations at Allen Premium Outlets, Allen, Texas, and Legacy Place in Dedham, Mass.

"This decision is about optimizing our Last Call store portfolio to deliver the best customer service and freeing up resources to support new initiatives for our full-line Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman channels," said Elizabeth Allison, senior VP of Last Call. "We are investing in our strengths as the clear leader of high-end luxury retail."

The news was not all that surprising. In July, the retailer said it was assessing its Last Call portfolio "to ensure it had the right mix of brick-and-mortar stores and online stores" to meet our customers evolving demands."

The 10 Last Call stores that are being shuttered include the ones at Arundel Mills, Arizona Mills, Great Lakes Crossing, Gurnee Mills, Lenox Marketplace, Livermore Premium, Philadelphia Premium, Philadelphia Mills, and Potomac Mills.

The closings will leave a total of 28 Last Call stores.

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C-SUITE

Home improvement giants taps Neiman Marcus exec for supply chain post

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Lowe’s Cos. has appointed a 20-year retail veteran to lead supply chain field processes

Michael West will join Lowe's as senior VP of supply chain field operations, effective Sept. 25. He will report to chief supply chain officer Brent G. Kirby.

West joins Lowe's from Neiman Marcus, where he served on the company's leadership team as senior VP, supply chain. He led distribution, transportation and fulfillment for all brands in the Neiman Marcus Group.

Prior to Neiman Marcus, West was senior VP, global logistics and distribution at Ann, Inc. He also spent 12 years with Target Corp., where he held various leadership positions, including VP, global logistics.

In his new position, West will lead operations for Lowe's regional and flatbed distribution centers, millwork facilities and bulk distribution centers. He will be tasked with driving efficiency and flexibility to best meet the needs of customers.

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News

Online footwear startup to try out brick-and-mortar

BY Marianne Wilson

Birdies has gotten some new seed — seed funding that is.

The San Francisco startup, known for its stylish and comfortable house slippers, announced it has raised $2 million in seed funding. The round was led by Forerunner Ventures, the investors behind Jet.com and Dollar Shave Club, with participation from Slow Ventures, Graph Ventures, Social Capital and a few strategic individual investors.

Birdies plans to use the investment to accelerate brand growth through product expansion and increased marketing efforts. Additionally, the company will open its first store, on Union Street in San Francisco, this fall.

Birdies was launched in late 2015 by Bianca Gates, who previously spent five years leading retail partnerships at Facebook and Instagram, and Marisa Sharkey, former group VP of strategy at Ross Stores.The company specializes in fashionable-looking house slippers, or what it calls "true indoor' shoes." The chic slippers, which sell for $140, are lined with memory foam and arch support, with satin and faux shearling lining for softness, and rubber soles for indoor traction and outdoor wear.

"As evidenced by the number of early customers that have shared their own discovery of Birdies with friends, it's clear Bianca and Marisa have struck a chord in a somewhat forgotten, and certainly dated, category,” said Kirsten Green, founder and managing director of Forerunner Ventures. “We respect their founding story and are looking forward to being part of their team as they seize the potential to redefine indoor fashion with chic slippers."

"We love to entertain friends and family at home but could never find cozy footwear that made style sense and were also comfortable for around the house," said Gates, co-founder and CEO of Birdies. "Tired of running around barefoot, in our socks, or in frumpy slippers, we decided to leverage our design aesthetic and work with incredible manufacturers to solve this issue."

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