OPERATIONS

Dunkin’ Brands shuffles board

BY Staff Writer

Canton, Mass. – Dunkin’ Brands Group Inc., parent company of Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin Robbins, has named current CEO Nigel Travis, 63, as chairman of the board of directors. Board member Raul Alvarez, 57, has been appointed lead independent director of the board. These changes come as Jon Luther, 69, prepares to retire as director and chairman of the board effective May 15.

Travis was named CEO in January 2009 while Luther joined Dunkin’ Brands as CEO in January 2003 and was named chairman of the board in 2006. Alvarez is former COO and president of McDonald’s Corporation and joined the Dunkin’ Brands board in May of last year.

"All of us at Dunkin’ Brands owe Jon Luther a tremendous debt of gratitude for his leadership and his vision," said Travis. "Thanks in large part to his efforts, Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins are world-class brands and are well positioned for growth. On behalf of our employees and franchisees from around the world, I wish Jon and his family the very best in the years ahead."

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FINANCE

Private equity firm TowerBrook Capital to acquire True Religion for $835 million

BY Dan Berthiaume

Vernon, Calif. — True Religion Apparel has entered into a definitive merger agreement with New York and London-based investment management firm TowerBrook Capital Partners, in a transaction valued at approximately $835 million.

Under the terms of the deal, which was unanimously approved by the True Religion board, TowerBrook will acquire all of the outstanding shares of True Religion common stock for $32.00 per share in cash. The brand, whose upscale jeans and sportswear products are sold in department stores and specialty stores around the world, also operates 124 stores in the United States and 31 international locations.

“TowerBrook’s investment is an important endorsement of the True Religion brand, its prospects and the hard work and commitment of our team,” said Lynne Koplin, interim CEO and president of True Religion. “At this critical inflection point in our business, global growth and product development effort, TowerBrook’s support and experience will be a true differentiator. TowerBrook’s long-term approach toward investment and brand stewardship will best enable True Religion to maintain its leadership position in the marketplace.”

TowerBrook has previously made control-oriented investments in companies such as Jimmy Choo, Odlo, BevMo! and Phase Eight.

True Religion also released its Q1 fiscal 2013 results Friday. Highlights include a 13.1% total net sales increase to $120.8 million from the same period in 2012, although net income declined from $10.4 million to $0.5 million. In March, True Religion CEO and founder Jeff Lubell stepped down and was named chairman emeritus and a creative consultant.

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STORE SPACES

Marks & Spencer puts new spin on ‘clicks & bricks’ with innovative Amsterdam store

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — British retailer Marks & Spencer takes a giant leap forward in its goal of becoming a multichannel leader with the opening of its innovative new concept store in Amsterdam. The centerpiece of the 5,000-sq.-ft. space — which marks M&S’ return to the Netherlands after a 10-year absence — is an “E-Boutique” dedicated to womenswear. The shop features what the retailer calls “the world’s first virtual rail,” a display that seamlessly integrates digital rails with physical rails of clothing samples. It is made up of three stacked 46-inch video screens and three physical rails, each holding about 50 items of clothing. The display will showcase the latest trends, and be updated every six weeks.

Shoppers can place orders for free delivery to the store through in-store order points or with iPad-equipped associates. They can also shop via their own mobile phones, using the store’s free WiFi.

Customers can also “shop to go,” choosing from the edited selection of fashions that are available to buy in-store on any given day.

“The Netherlands has embraced online shopping — customers adore the ease and convenience of buying clothes this way, which is why we were determined to return with our very latest multichannel thinking,” said Laura Wade-Gery, executive director e-commerce multichannel at Marks & Spencer. “The E-boutique … allows us to offer our latest fashion collections from a much smaller footprint.”

The rest of the store is dedicated primarily to food and beverages, ranging from sandwiches, salads, and wines to M&S’ signature prepared meals and groceries.

The Amsterdam concept shop is just the beginning of M&S’ push into the Netherlands. The company has also launched a new Dutch website, and plans to open a full-line store in The Hague, in 2014, and a flagship in Amsterdam, by spring 2015.

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