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Discovering In-Mall Destinations

BY CSA STAFF

Shopping destinations aren’t restricted to regional retail attractions or open-air glitterati, but rather can be the destination-oriented retailer in your favorite enclosed mall or even a common area that has been carefully crafted as an in-mall destination.

According to Wally Brewster, senior VP of marketing and communications for Chicago-based General Growth Properties, which itself owns a vibrant portfolio of both enclosed and open-air centers, an in-mall destination that has gained favor among mall owners and customers alike is the vendor-sponsored setting.

“Vendor partners such as American Express and Samsung are using the mall to create their own destinations, which enhances brand-value for their customers,” explained Brewster. “The mall is the main destination, of course, but brands are finding that they can create their own destinations beyond the mall itself.”

Discover Card debuted a Winter Lounge this past holiday season at Northbrook Court, a Northbrook, Ill., mall owned by General Growth. Situated in a lower-level common area outside Macy’s, the custom-designed lounge featured a cozy seating area, a life-size snow globe for picture-taking, and a host of services and promotions designed for Discover cardholders. The in-mall venue offered Discover customers a place to relax, regroup and “escape the crowds,” said Brewster. “This type of venue is quite similar to what you would find in an airport, allowing members to relax and be comfortable.

“What companies are finding is they can create—whether short term or for the long term—an experience for their customers, and that experience doesn’t have to be provided by an at-retail brand,” said Brewster. “American Express and Discover Card are coming into the mall to create their own destinations within the primary destination—the mall.”

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Lampert, the Eli Manning of retail?

BY CSA STAFF

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. The New York Giants triumph over the highly favored New England Patriots in the Super Bowl earlier this month, has become an example of coming from the bottom to win it all. Sears Holdings chairman Edward Lampert is one of the latest to use the Giants win, even going as far to compare himself, and the leaders of his company, to quarterback Eli Manning.

The Giants analogy, and Eli Manning comparison, is applied mainly to the company’s Kmart division. In a letter to investors, posted on the Sears Holdings investor relations Web site, Lampert said during Kmart’s bankruptcy in 2002, the unit was “like an undrafted free agent who nobody thought had a chance to play in the big leagues.” Lampert went on to say, “Like Eli Manning, we know what it’s like to be underestimated and questioned, but we intend to keep working on our game to achieve our full potential.”

Sears Holdings reported net income of $426 million, or $3.17 per diluted share, for the fourth quarter ended Feb. 2, compared with net income of $811 million, or $5.27 per diluted share, for the fourth quarter ended Feb. 3, 2007. For the fiscal year ended Feb. 2, 2008, net income was $826 million, or $5.70 per diluted share compared with net income of $1.5 billion, or $9.58 per diluted share, for the fiscal year ended Feb. 3, 2007.

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Circuit City investor seeks to replace board

BY CSA STAFF

RICHMOND, Va. Circuit City Stores today acknowledged that it has received two proposals from shareholder Wattles Capital Management regarding its board of directors. Wattles holds approximately 6.5% of the outstanding shares of the company’s common stock.

Circuit City reported that Wattles proposed the idea of replacing the company’s Circuit City 12-member board of directors with its own nominees. Circuit City said its board of directors will review carefully the shareholder’s proposals and the qualifications of the nominees in accordance with its fiduciary duties, mindful that the proposal would give the shareholder absolute control of the entire board, which would be disproportionate to its relative ownership of the company’s shares.

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