SUPPLY CHAIN

J. Crew to expand DC to support international expansion

BY CSA STAFF

New York City — J. Crew said Tuesday that it plans a $20 million expansion of its Lynchburg, Va., distribution center to facilitate the retailer’s goal of selling more clothes overseas.

According to a report in the Lynchburg newspaper News & Advance, J. Crew is slated to open its first store outside the tates and start shipping orders to Europe by the end of 2011. Those orders will be filled at J. Crew’s facility in Lynchburg.

“We plan to ship to all those countries, and eventually ship to the world, from this distribution center right here in Lynchburg,” J. Crew’s CFO Jim Scully said in a ceremony Monday in Lynchburg.

J. Crew has operated a DC in Lynchburg since 1986, and has expanded the original building twice, said Tony Brown, senior VP of global supply chain for the company. “In the last seven years alone, we have added over 500 jobs to the local Lynchburg community in our existing building,” Brown said.

The expansion will include a new 155,000-sq.-ft. building ready next year.

“In the next three to five years, we think we can double the size of the business again,” Scully said. International markets are a key part of the company’s growth strategy. Currently, J. Crew ships orders to the United States, Canada and Japan. At the end of 2011, it will start shipping to the United Kingdom and other European countries.

Also, J. Crew plans to open a retail store in Canada in the second half of this year.

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FINANCE

Wal-Mart to cut back electronics space in U.S. stores

BY CSA STAFF

Bentonville, Ark. — Wal-Mart Stores said Tuesday it plans to reduce space for electronics in its U.S. stores, saying that sales in that category have declined.

The company will reduce floor space devoted to items such as flat-screen televisions and give some of that space to apparel, according to Rosalind Brewer, who runs the Wal-Mart East division and addressed a retail conference in Atlanta on Tuesday.

The reduction is a reversal of Wal-Mart’s 2009 move to allocate 21% more floor space to entertainment gadgets and comes after electronics contributed to a 1.8% decline in U.S. same-store sales.

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FINANCE

SpendTrend report: March growth steady despite challenging comps

BY CSA STAFF

Atlanta — A report released Tuesday by First Data Corp. found that, despite tough comps and a late Easter, March 2011 same-store consumer spending by credit, signature debit, PIN debit, EBT cards and checks at U.S. merchant locations showed a steady uptick.

The First Data SpendTrend analysis for the full month of March 2011 compared to March 2010 showed that overall year-over-year dollar volume growth increased 8.1% in March, compared to February’s 8.4% growth rate. Excluding sales at gasoline stations, dollar volume growth was 6.9% in March versus 7.7% in February. Gasoline prices in March were up 30% year-over-year, which limited consumer discretionary spending.

Overall average ticket growth was up 1.3% in March, the largest increase in over a year. Excluding gasoline stations, average tickets grew 0.7%. With end-of-season clearance sales over, consumers are now feeling the impact of inflation, according to the report.

SpendTrend showed that signature debit dollar volume growth rose to 10.2% in March, the largest increase since December. Direct deposit of tax refunds padded consumers’ checking accounts. Credit dollar volume growth slowed to 7.7% in March after posting a 12-month high of 9.9% in February.

“Despite difficult comparables, a later Easter holiday, and soaring gas prices, March proved to be a steady month for overall consumer spending,” said Silvio Tavares, senior VP and division manager of First Data Information and Analytics Solutions.

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