OPERATIONS

Dunkin’ Donuts details California expansion

BY Dan Berthiaume

Canton, Mass. — Dunkin’ Donuts has filed for permits to open its first traditional restaurants in California. The new restaurants are planned for Downey, Long Beach, Modesto, Santa Monica and Whittier.

Specific locations and anticipated opening dates will be announced later this summer, with construction scheduled to begin later in June, Since opening California for franchise development in 2013, Dunkin’ Donuts has executed store development agreements for nearly 200 new restaurants total to date. The company believes it can eventually have as many as 1,000 restaurants throughout the state.

The company has already opened three non-traditional Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants in California, including a recent Dunkin’ Donuts/Baskin-Robbins combination location inside the Embassy Suites San Diego Bay Downtown Hotel.

The company has also signed multi-unit store development agreements with four new franchise groups to develop 54 new restaurants throughout Southern California in the coming years, including 14 stores in San Diego beginning in 2016, 16 stores in northern San Diego and southern Inland Empire beginning in 2015, 14 stores throughout Glendale, Burbank and Santa Clarita Valley starting in 2015, and two stores in Santa Barbara and eight stores throughout Ventura County beginning in 2016.

Franchise opportunities for Dunkin’ Donuts still remain available throughout California in Fresno, Bakersfield and Santa Barbara, Northern California, and portions of Southern California.

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FINANCE

Christopher & Banks Q1 income jumps, plans nine new stores

BY Dan Berthiaume

Minneapolis — Christopher & Banks Corp. more than quadrupled its net income to $2.6 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2014 compared to $0.6 million in the same quarter the prior year. The women’s apparel chain also plans to open six new outlet stores and three new stores in its MPW (Missy, Petite, Women) format during the fiscal year.

In addition, Christopher & Banks plans to close four existing Christopher Banks stores and replace them with MPW stores, and reformat 67 stores to its MPW format, consolidating seven in the process, following strong sales in existing MPW stores.

Lower costs and expenses drove the retailer’s net income growth. Net sales dropped 7% to $100.6 million from $107.7 million, while same-store sales declined 0.2%.

“Throughout the first quarter, we realized continued momentum in our strategic initiatives despite the challenges presented by the severe winter weather experienced during the first half of the quarter,” said LuAnn Via, president and CEO of Christopher & Banks. “While our same-store sales were slightly below our expectations for the quarter, we saw business improve as the weather became more seasonal and we exceeded our gross margin expansion target, with a refined merchandise offering and enhanced inventory strategies. Furthermore, sales and profitability in our MPW (Missy, Petite, Women) stores continued to perform above the company average. Looking ahead, additional opportunities to enhance our merchandise offering, further engage our customer and broaden our reach with our marketing programs are expected to result in continued improvement in store productivity.”

Looking ahead, Christopher Banks expects same-store sales to increase in the low to mid-single digit range.

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News

Mindshare and Empathica become InMoment, release Experience Hub

BY Dan Berthiaume

Salt Lake City — Mindshare Technologies, which acquired Empathica in September 2013, announced that the two companies have united under a new corporate entity known as InMoment. InMoment provides a cloud-based customer experience optimization platform, the Experience Hub.

The InMoment Experience Hub centralizes experience data, regardless of source or format, connects it with technology to surface critical customer stories, and then channels timely, actionable insights to the right people and places to drive targeted decisions across the entire enterprise.

Experience data is collected and stored in a variety of ways and places, from transactional and demographic information in CRM systems, to surveys conducted by third parties, to social media comments on the web. Once the data is centralized, the Experience Hub applies sophisticated text analytics technologies to the information to glean insights.

Built on the same Natural Language Processing (NLP) engine used by IBM’s Watson, InMoment has spent years developing additional layers of proprietary technologies to fine-tune its text analytics capabilities to specific industries. InMoment takes the additional step of calibrating the technology to individual client needs.

“The days of siloed information, long surveys, and simple scores are over,” said InMoment CEO John Sperry. “Consumers hold all the cards. They are more engaged with brands than ever before, have bigger platforms through which they can voice their displeasure and delight, and want to share their stories. It’s a race, and the companies that win will be the ones willing to invest the time, resources and shift in mindset required to create a culture that is truly customer-centric.”

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