STORE SPACES

J.C. Penney asks court to drop lawsuit over LED square frame used in ‘Fair and Square’ branding

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — J.C. Penney Co. has asked a New York Federal court to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the visual merchandising firm Hudson + Broad over the Plexiglass LED square frame used in the chain’s new “Fair and Square” branding campaign, Women’s Wear Daily reported.

Hudson + Broad, based in New York City, is seeking $40 million in damages. It filed suit on April 25, suing the retailer for "breach of contract and misappropriation of trade secrets.” Hudson + Broad claims it had an agreement with J.C. Penney to create original proprietary in-store icons to represent the chain’s "fair and square" image, only to have the retailer renege on the agreement and have the light-changing fixtures knocked-off.

Hudson + Broad issued a statement on Tuesday that J.C. Penney had not responded to its lawsuit by the statutory deadline set by federal court rules and so the clerk of the U.S. District Court filed a certificate of default against the retailer. In addition to asking the court to dismiss the suit, Penney also asked the court to vacate the default certificate.

“It is shocking that J.C. Penney failed to honor its agreement with Hudson + Broad to be the exclusive company manufacturing the ‘fair and square’ icons that we created under a proprietary arrangement and that they love – and now it is mind-boggling that they failed to respond to our lawsuit in court within the deadline," said James Maharg, president of Hudson + Broad, in the statement on Tuesday.

Maharg said his firm was asked by J.C. Penney in December 2011 to develop a fixture that would serve as a symbolic icon to be rolled out to the chain’s stores nationwide. The Hudson + Broad square fixtures were well received by J.C. Penney executives, according to Marharg, and were installed in the chain’s Manhattan Mall in New York City store for CEO Ron Johnson’s Jan. 25, 2012 presentation on the new Fair and Square initiative.

After the presentation, Maharg said J.C. Penney asked Hudson + Broad to deliver an initial order of over 1,800 units to be installed in some 700 stores. According to the suit, on April 3rd, J.C. Penney’s procurement department told Hudson + Broad that the retailer had sourced the custom-designed proprietary LED fixture elsewhere.

Hudson + Broad said it will respond vigorously to both motions to the court by July 13. The company said it hasn’t had any communication with J.C. Penney since April 4. Meanwhile, Hudson + Broad is taking its message viral — on YouTube. The firm posted a 3-minute video message to Johnson in which Maharg asks the company to stand by its mission statement of treating people "fair and square."

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REAL ESTATE

Dick’s to debut running store concept

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Pittsburgh — Dick’s Sporting Goods said Thursday that it will debut a specialty running store, True Runner, with the first location opening in the retailer’s home city of Pittsburgh.

The high-service concept will cater to running enthusiasts with footwear, apparel and accessories, and is slated to open in summer 2012.

"In our continued efforts to explore new ways to serve athletes and build upon Dick’s Sporting Goods already deep commitment to the sport in Pittsburgh, we believe that True Runner will provide a top-of-the-line experience to those who enjoy the sport," said Joe Schmidt, president and COO, Dick’s Sporting Goods.

Dick’s said the in-store experience will continue to evolve based on the feedback and input of customers. Staffed by running enthusiasts, True Runner will host events such as training runs and community activities.

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News

Survey: Pinterest passes Facebook in consumer engagement with retailers

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Washington, D.C. — Consumers are using Pinterest to engage with retailers more than Facebook or Twitter, according to a survey released Thursday by Shop.org, comScore and The Partnering Group.

Additionally, the “2012 Social and Mobile Commerce Study” discovered that one third of smartphone owners who shop online share their location with a retailer.

U.S. consumers reported that they already follow an average of 9.3 retail companies on Pinterest, compared to the average 6.9 retailers they follow on Facebook and the 8.5 retailers they track via Twitter. Overall, almost two out of five (38%) online consumers follow retailers through one or more social networking sites. 


The survey found company blogs, YouTube and Facebook command the majority of consumers’ social activity. In particular, 70% of those who follow a retailer’s blog click through to the website, and though sometimes overlooked in the overall social media mix, more than two-thirds (68%) of consumers use YouTube to browse and research a retail company.



“Retailers have done a commendable job embracing social media – engaging their customers where it makes sense while keeping their brand relevant, interesting, appealing and exciting on each platform,” said Shop.org executive director Vicki Cantrell.

“Specifically, Pinterest has given retailers another channel to ‘listen’ to and interact with both existing and new customers, telling an ongoing visual story through images of their products and their brand ‘spirit’, a story that customers can then tell again to their friends and family members.”



When it comes to what spurs consumers to follow retailers on social media platforms, the study found that finding good deals is still the leading reason, but that deals and promotions have lost a little bit of their luster. This year, 51% said they follow a retailer to get information on deals and coupons, down from 58% who said so last year. Four in 10 (43%) said they are looking for product information and 36% want to post/read comments about merchandise or services.

Additionally, 34% of those who follow retailers via social media said they are actively looking for information about events, 31% for current trends and ideas, 30% for photos and videos, and 27% for expert opinions.


“There are significant new opportunities for retailers to entice smartphone owners who may be within a few feet of their store — or already in the store — thanks to technology that lets shoppers who want to hear from retailers instantly interact with them,” said Jennifer Vlahavas, senior director, comScore. "And while check-in and store location functionality are already gaining popularity, retailers have just begun to scratch the surface of using location data to better serve their customers. In-store shopping maps and customized shopping lists are a few of the emerging mobile technologies that promise to shape consumers’ future behavior."

One-third (33%) of those surveyed who own smartphones said they have shared their location with retailers. Location-based services, such as Groupon Now!, FourSquare and Facebook have effectively helped retailers instantly reach new and existing customers by targeting special offers, discounts and coupons to their mobile devices once they’ve “checked-in.”



The study found that men are more likely than women to share their location with a retailer (40% vs. 25% respectively), and nearly half (46%) of those aged 18-34 say they have shared their location, compared to just 22% of those aged 35 to 54.



The survey found those with smartphones are most likely to use their device for social reasons, such as contacting friends and family about products they see and searching for items nearby, while tablets are more likely to be used to make purchases and comparison shop. Specifically, 37% of smartphone owners who shop online said they use their smartphone to take pictures of products and more than one-third (34%) said they send the pictures of the products they see to friends.

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