bebe
FINANCE

Fashion retailer closing all stores

BY Marianne Wilson

It’s curtain time for Bebe Stores — or at least its brick-and-mortar operations.

The struggling women’s apparel retailer will close all its stores by the end of May, according to a filing on Friday with the Securities and Exchange Commission, and also liquidate all merchandise and fixtures in the stores. Bebe had previously said it would close 21 stores, or 12% of its portfolio, to avoid filing Chapter 11. (Bebe had 180 retail stores as of Dec. 31, 2016.)

The retailer expects to take an impairment charge of approximately $20 million, net of deferred rent and other credits, as a result of closing the remainder of its stores. The charge will be recorded in the third and fourth quarters of this year.

In March, Bebe hired B. Riley & Co. as its financial advisor to explore strategic alternatives. Since then, there has been speculation that the chain would move to a Web-only model for its business. Bebe did not reveal any details in the filing on Friday regarding its future plans.

Increased competition from Amazon and fast-fashion retailers like H&M has challenged more traditional apparel retailers, particularly those targeting young women. Earlier this year, The Limited and The Wet Seal closed all their stores. Most recently, Rue 21 said it would shutter 400 locations.

In addition to its stores in the United States, Puerto Rico and Canada, Bebe distributes and sells Bebe-branded product in approximately 75 doors through licensees in more than 21 countries.

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ups
SUPPLY CHAIN

UPS uses beacons to quell shipping errors

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

UPS is taking steps to improve order accuracy.

A new program called Preload Smart Scan notifies workers if they have placed an item in the wrong delivery vehicle. Historically, these snafus forced drivers to travel miles out of their way to correct the mistakes.

Preload Smart Scan uses smart technology to avoid this issue. Specifically, the program comprises Bluetooth-enabled beacons that communicate with package-scanning devices worn by UPS employees as they load packages onto vehicles. The scanners, which read package labels, are programed to know where a package belongs in a specific vehicle.

The beacons send signals that are unique to certain vehicles and their position within the vehicle. The scanners detect those signals. If a package enters the wrong car or truck, the scanner will notify the loader of the error.

“This is an important step toward improving accuracy in our operation,” said John Dodero, UPS VP of industrial engineering. “It raises the level of service we provide to our customers. It also makes us more efficient and generates valuable cost savings.”

UPS beacons will be in 301 U.S. locations this year, reaching a total of 28% of U.S. facilities, and 47% of U.S. package cars. UPS also plans to expand the initiative to facilities internationally, according to the company.

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C-SUITE

Longtime Target exec to leave

BY Marianne Wilson

Target Corp. is losing a senior digital executive.

Casey Carl, chief innovation and strategy officer, is leaving the retailer, effective May 5. His departure, first reported by The Minneapolis Star-Tribune, comes as the chain has been reducing some of its innovation initiatives, including a store of the future with robots, to focus on efforts that have a faster payback.

Casey joined Target in 1997, and held a variety of roles in merchandising, negotiations, operations and digital. Prior to being named to his current position, he was president of omnichannel and senior VP of enterprise strategy.

Target CEO Brian Cornell announced Carl's upcoming departure in an e-mail to headquarters employees.

"Innovation is alive and well at Target," Cornell wrote. "Our new leader's job will be to build upon the progress we've made. And while this leader will play a critical role in Target's innovation story, it's not a story they will write alone. Innovation must be a mind-set, an essential component of every business, every strategy and every team."

Carl is credited for such projects as Target Open House in San Francisco, which showcases smart technologies in a futuristic home-like setting, and Target’s retail accelerator program, done in partnership with Techstars.

In his own email to employees, Carl wrote that he hopes to continue to explore disruptive strategies for growth and innovation, the report said.

“It's no secret that there's been a lot of change recently at Target and this is the right time for me to pursue what I'm most passionate about and builds upon what I've started here," he wrote.

Click here for more.

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