FINANCE

FMI Prediction: $5 per Gallon of Gas

BY CSA STAFF

Washington, D.C., In efforts to compete with market leaders or to fill specific niches within the industry, flourishing supermarket companies are investing in customers, employees and technology, according to the Food Marketing Institute’s (FMI’s) annual state-of-the-industry report.

For the first time, the report contained predictions for future food retailing trends. It identified the disintegration of large chains into smaller companies, the continual rise of gasoline prices to $5 per gallon and federal requirements for warning labels on high-calorie foods.

Cost-driven competition remains a key aspect of the industry, as it is compelling retailers to invent solutions for growth, especially via efficiency-improving technology upgrades, customer research and innovative products.

Store identity and differentiation are improved by specialty categories such as organic items, seasonal offerings, prepared foods, ethnic foods and fuel service. Major industry concerns in the report mainly consisted of the rapidly rising costs of credit and debit transactions, health-care premiums and energy bills.

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Fitch Upgrades J.C. Penney

BY CSA STAFF

New York City, Good news for J.C. Penney: Fitch Ratings raised its rating of Penney’s senior unsecured debt to “BBB-,” from “BB-plus.” The new rating is the lowest investment grade rank. “The upgrade also reflects the expectation that [J.C.] Penney will make continued progress with its turnaround over the medium term while further reducing debt levels,” Fitch said.

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Playboy Enterprises Opens Overseas Boutiques

BY CSA STAFF

New York City, Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur will both have freestanding Playboy Concept Boutiques by the end of this year. These will be the fourth and fifth locations for the concept, selling full collections of Playboy fashion and accessories.

The openings will leverage Playboy’s expansion at retail in specialty stores and department stores in the United States, Asia and Europe. Among the stores currently carrying Playboy items are Henri Bendel in New York, Selfridges in London, Colette in Paris and Seibu in Hong Kong.

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