MARKETING/SOCIAL MEDIA

Dollar General to offer tuition assistance

BY Marianne Wilson

Dollar General wants to make it easier for its employees to pursue higher education.

In a newly announced partnership with Bellevue University, all full-time and part-time Dollar General employees now qualify for $8,000 and $5,250 respectively in tuition assistance after working at Dollar General for a minimum of 30 days. Plus, immediate family members of employees are eligible for up to $2,625, as well.

To qualify, employees must maintain full-time student status throughout their degree program. This tuition reimbursement is good every year, adding up to $32,000 over the course of a four-year bachelor’s degree.

“This partnership further demonstrates our ongoing commitment to provide our employees with opportunities to gain new skills, develop their talents and advance within the company, which is reflected in our strong promotion and placement rates," said Bob Ravener, Dollar General’s executive VP and chief people officer.

Employees may choose from more than 50 bachelor’s degrees and 30 master’s degrees, all offered online. In addition to tuition assistance, employees can take advantage of a generous credit transfer policy that honors associate’s degrees in full. Students also benefit from a variety of support services, including academic advising, online tutoring, a writing center and ongoing professional development webinars.

“We’re honored to extend these services to Dollar General employees,” said Dr. Mary Hawkins, president of Bellevue University. “Dollar General understands the value of education, and their success over the years is a direct result of their commitment to their people. I’m excited about the possibilities of this partnership and look forward to welcoming Dollar General’s employees to the innovative online course offerings we have here at Bellevue University.”

Dollar General operated 14,000 stores in 44 states as of August 19, 2017.

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FINANCE

Regis Corp. to focus on value segment

BY Marianne Wilson

The nation's leading salon operator has entered into a major transaction that will reshape its portfolio.

Regis Corporation announced it has sold substantially all of its mall-based salon businesses in North America and entered into an agreement to sell substantially all of its International segment to The Beautiful Group, an affiliate of Regent, who will operate them as the company’s largest franchisee.

This transaction includes 858 of the company’s North America Regis Salons and MasterCuts locations, which are full-service, mall-based salons, as well as the intellectual property related to MasterCuts and certain other trade names. The announced transaction also includes the company’s 250 Regis Salons and Supercuts salons in the U.K.

In May, Regis announced it was planning strategic alternatives for its mall-based hair salons. The company said it had retained Huron Transaction Advisory to help in its review.

“This transaction further clarifies our strategy by focusing our company-owned salon portfolio in North America on the value segment,” said Hugh Sawyer, president and CEO of Regis Corporation. “At the same time, this outcome is consistent with our strategic imperative to accelerate the growth of our franchise portfolio.”

As of June 30, 2017, Regis owned, franchised or held ownership interests in 9,008 worldwide locations. Regis’ corporate and franchised locations operate under concepts such as Supercuts, SmartStyle, MasterCuts, Regis Salons, Sassoon Salon, Cost Cutters, Roosters and First Choice Haircutters.

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News

Not Fake News

BY Marianne Wilson

Fake news. Or, at the very least, over-exaggerated news. That’s what I call the reports about the death of retail. Retail sales are up $121.5 billion (through the first seven months of the year) and the holiday forecasts look promising, with Deloitte predicting a healthy 4 to 4.5% increase over last season.

By far, the biggest myth being perpetuated about retailing has to do with the dire state of brick-and-mortar stores. Yes, the past nine months has seen a wave of bankruptcies and store closings. But what’s not being reported (at least not as widely) is all the expansion that’s still happening in physical retail.

The reality is that more stores are opening than closing. In total, chains are opening a net 14,239 stores and closing 10,123 stores in 2017. Forty-two percent of retailers will experience a net increase in stores, 15% will have a net decrease, and 43% will see no change in store count.

The data comes by way of an in-depth research report from IHL Group consulting firm. IHL reviewed more than 1,800 retail chains with more than 50 U.S. stores in 10 retail vertical segments. It found that for every company with a net closing of stores, 2.7 companies showed a net increase in new stores in 2017. Also, 751 brands are increasing their store counts this year, while 278 are reducing store counts.

“The negative narrative that has been out there about the death of retail is patently false,” said Greg Buzek, president of IHL Group. “Over 4,000 more stores are opening than closing among big chains, and when smaller retailers are included, the net gain is well over 10,000 new stores.”

The report, aptly titled “Debunking the Retail Apocalypse,” found that 16 chains account for 48.5% of the total store closures. Five (Radio Shack, Payless ShoeSource, Rue21, Ascena Retail Group and Sears Holdings Corp.) represent 28.1% of the total store closings.

The IHL report revealed the changing landscape of the retail industry. The three fastest-growing core retail segments are mass merchandisers, such as off-price retailers, discounters and extreme-value stores (opening 1,905 stores), convenience stores (1,700 stores) and grocery retailers (674 stores).

Other fast-growing segments include beauty stores, home goods stores and furniture stores. Among the retailers driving growth, responsible for a total of 4,162 openings, are Dollar Tree, Dollar General, Couche-Tard and Aldi.

Restaurants, including table-service and fast-food eateries, are adding a net 2,754 locations. New openings are being driven by such familiar brands as Dunkin’ Donuts, opening 200 locations, and Chick-fil-A, Taco Bell and KFC, opening 100 units each. Pizzeria franchisor Noble Romans is opening 200 locations.

On the flip side, specialty apparel retailers are experiencing the largest number of closings, with a net loss of 3,137 stores. But it’s not all doom and gloom: For every chain closing stores, 1.3 chains are opening new ones.

The IHL report does not view retail through rose-colored glasses, though. It lays out the rapid change that’s transforming the overall industry as well as individual segments. But it makes clear that many businesses are up to the challenge.

“The so-called &lsquoretail apocalypse’ makes for a great headline,” Buzek said. “But it’s simply not true.”

Marianne Wilson
[email protected]

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