REAL ESTATE

Gap enters Central America

BY Marianne Wilson

San Francisco — Gap Inc. is expanding its footprint in Latin America. Leveraging its franchise model, the company has opened its first stores in Panamá and plans to introduce its brands to three additional Latin American countries: Colombia, Uruguay, and Peru.

As part of its existing agreement with Superior Retail Inc., Gap has opened two stores – a Gap and Banana Republic – side by side, in the Albrook Mall in Panamá City – the largest mall in Panamá. The company expects to open three additional stores in Panamá in 2012 – two Gap and one Banana Republic – as part of its agreement with Superior Retail Inc.

In other related developments:

  • Also via its agreement with Superior, Gap expects to open its first stores in Colombia in Bogota, and Medellin, later this year.
  • Through an existing agreement with Komax, Gap Inc. plans to expand its presence in Chile in 2012, opening its first Banana Republic store this summer and two additional Gap stores later this year.
  • Gap Inc. has signed a new agreement with a subsidiary of Neutral to bring Gap to Uruguay in 2012.
  • The company has also signed an agreement with a subsidiary of Komax to bring Gap to Peru in 2013.

“Latin America hosts some of the fastest-growing retail markets in the world with extremely high brand recognition for both Gap and Banana Republic,” said Stefan Laban, managing director of strategic alliances for Gap Inc. “This, combined with the tremendous response to the launch of Gap in Chile, makes us confident there is significant opportunity for our brands in Colombia, Peru, and Uruguay, as well as other countries in the region.”

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FINANCE

Collective Brands Q4 loss widens on higher costs, but sales up

BY Staff Writer

Topeka, Kan. — Footwear seller Collective Brands Inc. said that its fourth-quarter loss widened dramatically from the year before as higher costs cut into profit margins. But the loss was far narrower than Wall Street expected, while revenue was much higher.

The company, which operates the Payless ShoeSource chain, said its net loss during the quarter ended Jan. 28 was $41.6 million, up from a loss of $10.1 million in the year-ago period. Revenue rose to $815.9 million from $773.8 million. Same-store sales increased 1.7%, also better than expected.

Collective Brands said it is on track with its plan to close about 475 underperforming and low-volume stores by the end of 2013. About 400 of those stores are Payless stores in the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico. At the end of the quarter, the company operated nearly 4,500 stores worldwide.

For the full year of 2011, the company reported a net loss $164.5 million, compared with net income of $112.8 million the year before. Revenue for the year was $3.46 billion, up from $3.38 billion in 2010.

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OPERATIONS

Home Depot extends deal with Martha Stewart, will expand product line

BY Staff Writer

Atlanta — The Home Depot and Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia have extended their agreement to offer Martha Stewart Living-branded products at Home Depot stores through 2016. The line launched in 2010.

The chain currently offers paint, outdoor furniture, kitchen and bath cabinetry and carpeting under the Martha Stewart brand currently. It plans to expand its product lineup with a new craft furniture line and more holiday merchandise.

"Martha Stewart Living has been a great partner and a natural fit, and the line has tremendous appeal, particularly for women who represent half of our customers," said Gordon Erickson, senior VP of decor for The Home Depot.

J.C. Penney has announced plans to develop in-store Martha Stewart shops, a development that is being contested in court by Macy’s Inc., which also carries Martha Stewart products.

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