REAL ESTATE

Disney-inspired Starbucks opens at Downtown Disney

BY Marianne Wilson

Seattle — Starbucks has opened up its first company-operated store on a Disney property, at Downtown Disney in Anaheim, Calif. The 5,600-sq.-ft. store is the first of several company-operated locations that are scheduled open across Disney properties in the United States.

The new Downtown Disney location brings one of Starbucks most engaging experiences to customers with technology and content designed specifically for the store. This includes introducing customers to the Starbucks story via a 10-ft. video installation that shows images of places where Starbucks grows and harvests its coffee beans.

The location also features a first-of-its-kind interactive digital chalkboard that customers, including children, can draw and write on. The touch-screen acts like a mirror. When a customer sits in front of it, his or her image is projected on the screen as a chalk painting.

“The store’s coffee passion wall video is rendered to look like an animated painting or drawing,” said Bill Sleeth, Starbucks’ VP of design for the Americas. “That handcrafted look is a reflection of the handcrafted beverages we serve every day around the world. Disney and Starbucks challenged each other and the result is a beautiful, unexpected gathering place.”

The new store, built to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards, was built reclaimed wood siding. It also boasts an outdoor patio designed around a large tree. A living, green wall with more than 1,000 native plants in the shape of a coffee cup serves as a backdrop.

“This store is a reflection of two iconic brands coming together to offer their customers the kind of high quality experience they expect in a way that embodies the unique passion of each,” said Arthur Rubinfeld, chief creative officer and president, global innovation for Starbucks. “Collaborating with Disney offered us the opportunity to create a unique moment of connection for our customers in a way that evokes the magic that their guests expect.”

During the next year, Starbucks and Disney will 0pen five more Starbucks operated-stores, including, two Starbucks-operated locations at Downtown Disney at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.

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FINANCE

Kroger in stock buyback

BY Staff Writer

Cincinnati — The Kroger Co. said Thursday that it will buy back up to $1 billion of its shares. The repurchase program replaces its existing plan, which had roughly $2 million remaining.

Kroger also declared a regular quarterly dividend of 16.5 cents per share, payable June 1 to shareholders of record May 15.
During the last four quarters, Kroger has used its strong free cash flow to return more than $928 million to shareholders through share buybacks and dividends.

Since January 2000, Kroger has returned approximately $10 billion to shareholders through share repurchases.

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News

CFOs on board with retail’s omnichannel agenda

BY CSA STAFF

Finance executives who participated in professional services firm BDO’s annual CFO survey expect 8.2% growth in online sales this year and not surprisingly plan to increase investments in mobile capabilities.

Mobile and online sales will continue to drive growth for retailers in 2014, the firm said. However, now that e-commerce has firmly taken root in the retail industry, growth is beginning to stabilize. As a result, about 64% of CFOs said online sales will grow in the coming year, a figure below the 74% who expressed that sentiment the prior year.

“After a banner year of e-commerce and m-commerce growth in 2013, retailers largely expect these platforms to keep delivering big returns in the year ahead,” said Natalie Kotlyar, a partner in the retail and consumer products at BDO USA. “But safeguarding this future growth requires retailers to invest across channels in order to deliver a safe, seamless and efficient experience for shoppers. All the moving parts — mobile apps, websites, supply chain IT systems, brick-and-mortar — need to be carefully coordinated for companies to hold their own in this fiercely competitive landscape.”

To achieve the 8.2% growth CFO project, 34% of those surveyed are focusing primarily on developing their e-commerce and mobile commerce platforms as many companies attempt to streamline and integrate multiple channels in order to compete with major players like Amazon. Along with e-commerce and mobile commerce, CFOs are also improving their merchandise assortment (28%) and expanding within the U.S. (24%).

The rise of online retailing has also introduced new risks for retailers, according to BDO. With recent high-profile data security breaches at Target and Neiman Marcus, it’s no surprise that a plurality of CFOs (27%) said they will invest the most capital in 2014 in IT systems and technology. Meanwhile, 18% of CFOs plan to invest the most capital in e-commerce channels, and 12% said that mobile application development will encompass their largest investment, with a full 40% planning to increase their investment in mobile overall.

The findings are from BDO’s eighth annual Retail Compass Survey which included 100 CFO’s from leading retailers. The survey was conducted in January 2014.

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