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Fresh & Easy acquired by Yucaipa; store closures on tap

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Los Angeles — Grocery chain Fresh & Easy confirmed reports that its British parent Tesco LLC has sold the brand to private equity firm The Yucaipa Cos., following months of uncertainty about the 200+-unit chain’s future.

Fresh & Easy posted on its website Tuesday that more than 4,000 jobs would be saved under the purchase agreement but that some stores will be closing. Specific stores have not been identified, and the terms of the agreement weren’t disclosed.

Late last year, Tesco said it was considering pulling out of the U.S. market entirely, leading to speculation about the fate of Fresh & Easy.

The purchase by Yucaipa isn’t entirely a surprise; the Los Angeles-based firm previously acquired Food 4 Less and Ralphs before merging both into each other and selling the assets.

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Christopher & Banks narrows loss; plans new store openings

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Minneapolis — Christopher & Banks Corp. reported a loss of $265,000 for the quarter ended Aug. 4, narrowed from a $2.2 million loss in the year-ago period. Sales edged up 1% to $104.2 million from $103.4 million, and same-store sales climbed 7.7%.

Under the leadership of CEO LuAnn Via, the company is in the early stages of a turnaround, with store openings on tap for both fiscal 2013 and a longer-term three-year period.

“We have developed a long range plan, beginning with fiscal 2014, focused on driving mid-single digit comparable store sales growth and operating margin expansion over the next three fiscal years,” said Via. “We believe that we can achieve these goals as we remain steadfast on the continued execution of our merchandising and marketing initiatives, expand our total square footage and leverage the strong infrastructure we have developed over the last several quarters.”

In 2013, the chain plans to open six outlet stores, two new MPW (missy, petite, women) stores and to convert 24 existing stores to 12 MPW stores. For the three-year period beginning with fiscal 2014, the company plans 20 or more new store openings per year and conversion of existing stores to the MPW store format.

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Charming Charlie won over by analytics

BY Dan Berthiaume

Houston – Charming Charlie is establishing a “single version of the truth” across multiple business units, including merchandising, store operations, planning and finance, using the ARC Merchandise Analytics solution from Manthan Systems. The solution is designed to deliver real-time merchandise and performance insights across the retail enterprise.

Prior to installing ARC Merchandising Analytics, Charming Charlie depended on spreadsheets to combine disparate systems data for reporting purposes. This process required the availability of technical resources to perform labor-intensive data manipulation to deliver retail reporting. As a result, the IT team was performing data dumps to support numerous reports required across the business and consequently, reports did not reflect real-time data.

“With Manthan’s solution, members of our merchandising and operations teams can build their own dashboards and reporting views specific to their requirements without placing an IT request,” said Jay Nayak, senior director of IT applications at Charming Charlie. “Individuals can slice and dice data, perform rollups and drill-downs, filter by attributes and interact with views to drive down to real-time insights on the fly. It’s not a mere improvement to our previous reporting processes, it’s a complete transformation in how to we analyze data.”

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