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Increases in retail container traffic expected through back-to-school season

BY Marianne Wilson

Washington, D.C. — Import cargo volume at the nation’s major retail container ports will be flat in May compared with the same month last year, but is expected to see solid year-over-year increases through this summer and the back-to-school season, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.

“Consumers are spending despite gas prices and other economic concerns, so retailers are stocking up to meet the demand,” NRF VP for supply chain and customs policy Jonathan Gold said. “These numbers show imports growing through the back-to-school season and even into beginning of the shipping cycle for the holiday season. That’s a sign that retailers are expecting a good year.”

U.S. ports followed by Global Port Tracker handled 1.18 million Twenty-foot Equivalent Units in March, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. That was up 14.1% from February, traditionally the slowest month of the year, and 8.5% from March 2011. One TEU is one 20-ft. cargo container or its equivalent.

April was estimated at 1.24 million TEU, up 2% from a year ago, and May is forecast at 1.28 million TEU, the same as last year. June is forecast at 1.3 million TEU, up 4%; July at 1.35 million TEU, up 1.8%; August at 1.42 million TEU, up 7.2% and September at 1.45 million TEU, up 8.7%.

The first half of 2012 should total 7.3 million TEU, up 1.9% from the same period last year. The total for 2011 was 14.8 million TEU, up 0.4% from 2010’s 14.75 million TEU. NRF projects 2012 retail sales will grown 3.4% grow to $2.53 trillion.

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Barneys gets new owner in debt-for-equity swap

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Barneys New York said that it has reached an agreement with its largest lender, Perry Capital, and other lenders to significantly reduce the retailer’s debt and improve its capital structure. Under the arrangement, Perry Capital has become the majority owner of Barneys. Under a debt-for-equity swap with Perry Capital, as well as other lenders, Ron Burkle’s Yucaipa Cos and current owner Istithmar World, the chain’s long-term debt will fall to $50 million from $590 million. The deal makes Perry Capital the majority owner of Barneys.

“We are extremely pleased to have reached an agreement with our partners that will significantly reduce our debt and provide the company with the funding to accelerate the execution of our successful business strategy,” stated Barneys CEO Mark Lee. “This agreement provides us with increased free cash flow that will be used to revitalize our stores, invest in Barneys.com and further enhance our customer experience at a time when our operational financial performance is very strong.”

Barneys reported double-digit comparable sales growth and a 40% increase in annual EBITDA for the full year 2011 compared with 2010.

“Barneys New York is an extraordinary brand that will become even stronger through this transaction,” said Richard Perry, CEO of Perry Capital. “We are confident that the new capital structure will provide the Barneys management team with the financial flexibility it needs to continue its already impressive performance.”

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Seasoned apparel exec named CEO of Kellwood Company

BY CSA STAFF

NEW YORK — Apparel manufacturer Kellwood Company has named Jill Granoff as CEO. Granoff brings a vast knowledge of the fashion industry and retailing to the position with over 20 years of brand building and executive leadership experience.

As CEO, Granoff will be responsible for the overall growth and direction of Kellwood’s diversified portfolio of brands including Vince, Rebecca Taylor, David Meister, BLK DNM, Zobha, Lamb & Flag, Baby Phat, Phat Farm, Sag Harbor, Briggs NY, Jolt, My Michelle, and XOXO. Her broad experience across brands, channels, product categories and geographies will be a valuable asset for the company.

Most recently, Granoff served as CEO of Kenneth Cole Productions Inc. Prior to that, Granoff was EVP Liz Claiborne Inc., where she had global responsibility for Juicy Couture, Lucky Brand Jeans, Kate Spade and the company’s e-commerce and outlet businesses. Granoff previously held senior posts at Victoria’s Secret Beauty where she last served as president and COO and at Estee Lauder Inc. where she was SVP strategic planning, finance and information systems.

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