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Investor calls for changes at Jos. A. Bank

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Jos. A. Bank Clothiers on Tuesday came under criticism from BeaconLight Capital LLC, which owns more than 1% of the men’s apparel chain. In an open letter to the company’s board, the investment manager called for a reorganization of the retailer’s board and return of cash to shareholders, preferably through buy-backs. The letter stated that "we are convinced that tremendous value is trapped inside the company due to the absence of a credible capital allocation policy, an insular insider board of directors, poorly aligned management incentives, and the company’s refusal to communicate with shareholders."

The letter noted that Jos. A. Bank’s stock has underperformed the S&P Retail Index by 5%, 116%, and 40%, in the last five, three and one year periods, respectively.

“While we appreciate the role that current leadership played in building the company from a sleepy 100-store regional retailer to a national 600-store company with over $1 billion in sales, they have delivered increasingly dismal total shareholder returns over the last five years,” BeaconLight wrote.

BeaconLight said that with the changes it proposed, the stock should be worth $70 per share. The hedge fund also said in the letter that "the market is heavily penalizing the company for its inefficient use of cash and exceptionally poor corporate governance."

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August merchandise imports to show first increase since May

BY Marianne Wilson

Washington, D.C. — Following negative numbers in four of the last five months, import volume at the nation’s major retail container ports is expected to grow 1.7% in August over the same month last year and should continue to see gains through the holiday season and the remainder of 2013, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released Tuesday by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates. The year is expected to end with a 2.4% increase over 2012.

“As the economy continues to slowly improve, retailers are stocking up for their most important sales season of the year,” NRF VP for supply chain and customs policy Jonathan Gold said. “Merchants have been very cautious so far this year, but our forecasts show that they plan to make up for it in the next few months.”

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Anna’s Linens optimizes site for mobile

BY Dan Berthiaume

Costa Mesa, Calif. — Anna’s Linens is optimizing its e-commerce site for mobile device users. The retailer says nearly one-third of its online traffic originates from mobile devices, prompting the move.

Mobile site customers can browse and access the same offers and merchandise assortments found on AnnasLinens.com, as well as manage their accounts, review order histories and find store locations. Users can also share preferred products via social media sites such as Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter. Anna’s Linens is taking an omni-channel approach, allowing customers to apply store and online coupons to the mobile shopping site and automatically transferring anything saved in a personal mobile cart to the e-commerce site, and vice versa.

“This launch was long anticipated,” said Steven Strickland, VP marketing and e-commerce at Anna’s Linens. “Considering 30% of the traffic to our e-commerce site came from a mobile device, we knew creating a more user-friendly mobile site was a top priority. The debut of our mobile site has quickly been embraced by our customers, as it provides them with a seamless shopping experience from any location.”

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