REAL ESTATE

Gap’s Athleta brand opens San Francisco store

BY CSA STAFF

San Francisco — Women’s active lifestyle brand Athleta has opened its first full-scale retail location, on Fillmore Street in San Francisco. Athleta was acquired by Gap in 2008

“This store opening launches the next phase of our multichannel growth plan for the Athleta brand,” said Toby Lenk, president of Gap. Direct, the division which houses the Athleta brand. “What began as a catalog business 12 years ago, evolved into a successful online channel, and today marks another milestone for the Athleta brand.”

The 5,000-q.-ft. has an open, airy feel and showcases the brand’s inspirational imagery and headlines. Custom-made mannequins molded from the body of an Athleta model and real-life athlete are featured prominently throughout the store, as well as kiosks that link directly to the website offering customers access to additional product. Eight large-sized fitting rooms are located toward the back of the store, providing a comfortable setting for customers to try on product. Free tailoring is included with every purchase.

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FINANCE

Strong holiday prompts Williams-Sonoma to boost forecasts

BY CSA STAFF

San Francisco — Williams-Sonoma’s strong holiday sales performance prompted the home-products retailer to lift its fourth-quarter and full-year earnings and revenue forecasts on Thursday.

Revenue climbed 10.5% to $865 million for the eight-week holiday period ending Dec. 26, 2010. Same-store sales rose 5%.

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News

New competition comes to Canada

BY CSA STAFF

Walmart Canada has a few years to get ready for the arrival of Target following yesterday’s major announcement that its arch rival would be heading north of the border via an acquisition. That is the same strategy Walmart employed all the way back in 1994 when it bought 122 former Woolco stores. Walmart now operates 323 stores in Canada, and by the time Target gets around to opening its first units in 2013 that figure will probably be closer to 400. Even so, the arrival of between 100 to 150 new Target stores in 2013 and 2014 is sure to place a new type of competitive pressure on Walmart’s Canadian operations even though the retailer is used to butting heads with Target in the U.S. Target already enjoys brand equity in Canada and will be able to create a sense of anticipation around its arrival that is sure to create traffic challenges for Walmart, as those shoppers who haven’t had an opportunity to experience Target’s brand of retail in the United States will be eager to see what all the fuss is about. The fact that Target has placed its top marketing executive, Michael Francis, in charge of the executive committee that will oversee the retailer’s entry into the market is an indication that Target’s arrival will be announced with tremendous fanfare.

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