FINANCE

Herman Miller to acquire Design Within Reach

BY Marianne Wilson

Zeeland, Mich. — Herman Miller has entered into an agreement to acquire high-end furniture retailer Design Within Reach Inc. (DWR) for about $154 million in cash.

DWR’s chief executive, John Edelman, and president, John McPhee, will continue to lead the business as part of the Herman Miller brand and will report to CEO Brian Walker.

“This combination expands our reach in the higher margin consumer sector and we have identified multiple points of strategic leverage that will benefit our other segments and operations, as well as DWR’s own growth plans,” Walker said.

The executives will convert their remaining ownership interest in DWR for about an 8.5% ownership stake within a newly formed Herman Miller consumer business unit.

Founded in 1998, DWR operates 38 retail locations in the United States and Canada, an e-commerce site, and a print catalog.

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News

Zara to deploy RFID technology at stores worldwide

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Spanish apparel giant Inditex, plans to have radio frequency identification technology in place in its nearly 2,000 Zara stores around the globe by 2016. The technology has already been installed at all of Zara’s distribution centers and at more than 700 Zara stores.

The retailer uses RFID tags that are embedded in the electronic article surveillance security tags on items. Each garment is fitted with a reusable RFID-enabled EAS tag that is encoded at the distribution center. Store employees use handheld readers to take inventory of goods and verify shipments when the goods arrive at the store from the DC.

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OPERATIONS

IBM and Apple: ‘It’s Complicated’ for Retail

BY Staff Writer

New York — Greg Buzek, president of IHL, which tracks mobile spending and forecasts for the retail and hospitality markets, offers analysis on the recently announced IBM-Apple partnership:

If IBM and Apple for retail were people on Facebook right now, the relationship status would say “It’s complicated."

There is no doubt that this is a deal that provides great synergies for both companies. Apple gets a dedicated top notch sales- and service-team as well as a future of truly enterprise hardened software for their devices. IBM gains a fresh revenue opportunities in many areas of their company in the tremendously growing enterprise mobile software and services space.

The part that’s complicated is in retail. Basically, there are three questions that are unanswered and add to the “It’s complicated” relationship status:

1. Does IBM’s background in transaction processing, loyalty, big data, cloud, etc. make it an ideal platform for an Apple payments platform based on iTunes? Certainly it could — no one processes more high speed retail transactions worldwide than IBM software and middleware. An iWatch or iPayment platform, particularly for grocery and discounters where the move for self-checkout is more towards consumers scanning and bagging with their phones, could be a big deal.

2. Does the remaining IBM retail group begin offering a mobile POS platform that is separate and competitive to the Toshiba Global Commerce platforms (formally IBM Retail Store Solutions) being offered today? Or is the iPad simply going to be an option for both or IBM Global Services play?

3. Will retailers really support three different platforms (traditional POS, Toshiba Mobile, Apple Mobile) at the store level for POS activities? It’s doubtful. IBM may have just cut off the legs of the Toshiba Global Commerce Solutions (TGCS) relationship in general merchandise retailers.

These are not reasons for IBM and Apple not to do the deal. It makes tremendous sense overall. But the agreement has certainly complicated the lives of those who make their livelihood in retail for IBM/TGCS and their customers.

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