OPERATIONS

IBM completes acquisition of Kenexa

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Armonk, N.Y. — IBM announced Tuesday the closing of its acquisition of Kenexa, a provider of recruiting and talent management solutions, for approximately $1.3 billion.

IBM said that Kenexa complements its strategy of bringing relevant data and expertise into the hands of business leaders within every functional department, from sales and marketing to product development and human resources.

"By creating a smarter workforce, employees can drive innovation to bring products and services to market faster, resolve problems before they arise to improve customer service, and increase sales by building new skills — linking the right experts to the right clients," said Alistair Rennie, general manager, social business, IBM. "The combination of Kenexa’s world-class human capital management solutions and IBM’s social business and analytics leadership uniquely positions IBM to help clients generate real returns from their social business investments, while helping them to be more competitive in their markets."

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FINANCE

Report: C-store traffic declines in Q3

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Houston — A Tuesday report by NPD Group found that total consumer traffic through convenience stores was down 2.1% in the third quarter, compared with the same period last year.

NPD’s convenience store market research reports that the traffic decline this quarter was largely driven by lower purchase frequency (5.9 visits per 30 days), but was also influenced by a slight decline in the overall reach of the channel (only 50.2% of consumers aged 16+).

The decline in third quarter visits was typically more severe among major oil company-branded c-store chains (especially those more overly dependent upon gasoline), while small independent chains did slightly better, according to NPD’s Convenience Store Monitor, which continually tracks the consumer purchasing behavior of more than 51,000 convenience store shoppers in the U.S. The average check in the third quarter increased 2.5%. This increase did not appear to be driven by more items in the basket, and was likely due to a combination of higher prices, larger sizes, or changes in mix such as continued shift to higher ticket categories.

“The third quarter weakness in c-store traffic compared to year ago can likely be attributed to rising gasoline prices in the quarter and ongoing pressures from competitive channels such as grocery, drug, dollar and mass that are encroaching on the convenience shopping occasion,” said David Portalatin, executive director of industry analysis for NPD’s convenience store research.

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REAL ESTATE

Mrs. Fields to debut new store at Arista Place

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Broomfield, Colo. — Mrs. Fields Cookies said Tuesday it will open a new location at Arista Place, located in Broomfield, Colo.

The flagship store, which is slated to launch construction this month, will feature a new store design and branding. It is expected to open in March 2013.

The new design, said the company, will incorporate more soft seating and a retail area for ordering cookie gifts online. The corporate location will also serve as the company’s training university for new franchisees.

The enhanced design, completed by Fitch Design Services, will be utilized as the company’s new brand identity and store design moving forward.

“This new location will be a great addition to the emerging development taking place at Arista Place,” said Tim Casey, CEO of Mrs. Fields Cookies. “Mrs. Fields is an iconic brand and we feel that Arista is a great place to debut our new look, including the addition of innovative products, brand imagery focusing on the 35-year history and a unique retro design, all of which are key components included with the concept’s 2013 brand re-launch program.”

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