REAL ESTATE

Gap to open new store in Westport

BY CSA STAFF

Westport, Conn. — SRS Real Estate Partners announced that Gap has leased 17,448 sq. ft. at 125 Main Street in Westport, Conn.

The transaction represents a consolidation of all of Gap brands (Gap, Gap Kids, Gap Baby) into one location and a new long-term commitment to downtown Westport, according to SRS.

The landmark redevelopment of 125 Main Street is well underway with Gap, a planned expansion and long-term lease renewal with Brooks Brothers Women and additional retail and boutique office space.

The project should be completed in the fall with Gap opening soon thereafter.

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At shareholders meeting, Lowe’s embraces change

BY CSA STAFF

At its annual meeting, Lowe’s chairman and CEO Robert A. Niblock continued to hammer on the theme of transformation at the nation’s second-largest home center chain.

“Making home improvement simple for customers starts with making it simple for our employees by providing them with the right technology and resources,” said Niblock. “Throughout our 65-year history, Lowe’s has changed many times. To be successful in the future, we must transform the shopping experience for customers wherever and however they choose to shop with Lowe’s.”

He told shareholders at the company’s annual meeting Friday how the company plans to transform Lowe’s from a home improvement retailer to a home improvement company.

Niblock said Lowe’s continues to deliver on its promise of great value, products and services by implementing operational programs to enhance the customer experience, even in a market overshadowed by uncertainty.

At the meeting, the Lowe’s board declared a 27% increase in its quarterly cash dividend to fourteen cents per share, payable Aug. 3, 2011, to shareholders of record as of July 20, 2011. The company declared a cash dividend each quarter since going public in 1961. Also at the meeting, shareholder proposals regarding executive severance, linking pay to performance on sustainability goals and political spending were defeated.

Larry D. Stone, who will retire as president and COO June 2 after 42 years with the company, said the next chapter for Lowe’s is well under way to make our organization an even stronger company in the industry.

“Change has always been a part of Lowe’s culture, and throughout our history we’ve changed the company to meet the evolving needs of customers,” said Stone. “The next chapter of transformational change for Lowe’s will enable our employees to enhance the customer experience and make shopping for home improvement a seamless process.”

Lowe’s plans to open approximately 25 stores this year. Niblock told shareholders the company is focused on long-term growth driven by enhanced customer-focused experiences.

During the meeting, shareholders re-elected board members Raul Alvarez, David W. Bernauer, Leonard L. Berry, Peter C. Browning, Dawn E. Hudson, Robert L. Johnson, Robert A. Niblock, Marshall O. Larsen, Richard K. Lochridge and Stephen F. Page to one-year terms.

Shareholders also ratified Deloitte & Touche as the company’s independent public accountant and approved Lowe’s 2011 Annual Incentive Plan.

“As Lowe’s celebrates its 50th anniversary as a public company, we remain focused on building our company for the future while taking advantage of near-term opportunities that continue to drive value for shareholders,” CFO Robert F. Hull Jr. told shareholders. “While the macro environment continues on the path to recovery, Lowe’s balance sheet and financial position remain strong, generating higher cash flow and returning more capital to shareholders through increased dividends and share repurchases.”

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Winn-Dixie caters to kosher sect in Miami

BY CSA STAFF

MIAMI, Fla. — Winn-Dixie has completed the remodeling of its Miami-area store in Aventura that wil better cater to the community’s Jewish residents with expanded kosher offerings.

The remodeled store also featuresa cleaner and more modern and attractive setting, hardwood flooring throughout the produce, deli and bakery departments, and a dedicated area offering free Wi-Fi access and complimentary coffee, the company reported.

“We are excited to deliver on our promise of providing our guests with a fresh, new shopping experience at their Aventura Winn-Dixie Store,” said Randy Rambo, Winn-Dixie Southern regional VP. “This store exemplifies our fresh and local strategy and serves as a one-stop grocery destination catering to the needs, tastes and preferences of the surrounding community.”

The expanded kosher offerings include bigger kosher departments,kosher-certified products and freshly prepared foods including Israeli foods, pareve snacks, kosher meats and cheeses, freshly-baked breads and customized specialty cakes. All kosher departments will be operated under the supervision of the Orthodox Rabbinical Board.

With one of the largest Jewish communities in the United States, which includes many who are transplants from the Northeast where several supermarkets provide robust kosher offerings, Miami is a key market for kosher products, and other area supermarkets will likely follow Winn-Dixie’s lead.

Winn-Dixie Stores currently operates 484 retail grocery locations, including 379 in-store pharmacies, in Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia and Mississippi.

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