News

The Knot releases wedding planning iPhone app

BY Dan Berthiaume

New York — The Knot has released The Knot Wedding Planner App for iPhone. With two clicks, a couple can find a venue, read reviews, check availability and source the entire team responsible for the wedding, from planner to florist and photographer.

Users can favorite a cake on the app, then view all those details in full size on their desktop, or favorite a bouquet on their desktop and show it to your florist on the app. As couples browse through more than 50,000 wedding photos, they are linked directly to approximately 120,000 wedding vendors across the country. The app also features a wedding checklist, budgeter, and guest list manager.

"The Knot mission is to make wedding planning easier and more fun in every medium. Our current obsession is, obviously, mobile," said Carley Roney, cofounder of The Knot. "The Knot Wedding Planner App now has the addictive real wedding albums and quality vendor listings TheKnot.com is famous for, enhanced with the unique features mobile makes possible – sourcing information tied to your exact location and being able to instantly contact the businesses who can make your wedding dreams possible."

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ENERGY/HVAC

Sears receives EPA Energy Star Partner of the Year award

BY Dan Berthiaume

Hoffman Estates, Ill. — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recognized Sears Holdings with a 2014 Energy Star Partner of the Year – Sustained Excellence Award. Sears Holdings, an Energy Star partner since 1998, will be honored for its long-term commitment to energy efficiency.

The company’s related accomplishments in 2013 included:

• Energy Savings: In 2013, Sears Holdings’ total weather normalized source energy usage decreased by 1,005,846,559 kbtu, a reduction of 5% from last year. In addition, the company reduced average weather normalized source energy intensity to 127.6 kbtu/sq. ft., a 3% reduction from 2012. Furthermore, the company reduced electricity usage by more than 200 million kWh, a 6.6% savings from the previous year.

• Product Selection: Sears Holdings has continued to develop business strategies related to Energy Star products in their stores. In 2013, the company introduced new energy-efficient technology for Kenmore laundry and dishwashers, as well as the continuous development of the connected appliance/home energy management portfolio that will be introduced to the market in 2014.

• Marketing: The company continued to communicate its environmental leadership to its Shop Your Way members and customers. Several utility partners created brand pages on the Shop Your Way platform to promote Energy Star In addition, Sears is expanding instant rebates online, allowing automatic location based rebates.

• Partnership: Through Sears Green Leadership team, it is able to capitalize on these relationships to drive traffic to its stores and generate awareness for the Energy Star brand.

"Sears Holdings is honored to receive the Partner of the Year Award," said Ron Boire, Sears Holdings’ executive VP chief merchandising officer and president, Sears and Kmart formats. "We are committed to our partnership with Energy Star, and dedicated to increasing energy efficiency through our operational excellence, Kenmore product offerings and partnerships with local utilities. We will continue the tradition of celebrating our associates, members and customers’ conservation efforts as we help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect the environment."

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P.Siegel says:
Apr-04-2014 12:58 pm

Sears Award
This is one of the few areas where Sears should concentrate its efforts, investments, and real estate and STOP trying to maintain a dismal 3rd place below WalMart and Target. That's a strategy that will NEVER work for them profit-wise.

P.Siegel says:
Apr-04-2014 12:58 pm

This is one of the few areas where Sears should concentrate its efforts, investments, and real estate and STOP trying to maintain a dismal 3rd place below WalMart and Target. That's a strategy that will NEVER work for them profit-wise.

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FINANCE

Guitar Center reduces debt, interest expense

BY Dan Berthiaume

Los Angeles — Guitar Center’s total debt has been reduced by approximately $500 million and annual cash interest expense has been reduced by more than $70 million. The improved financial position of the company will enable Guitar Center’s management team to further invest in its people, store base and brands to accelerate growth.

As part of the transactions, affiliates of the Private Equity Group of Ares Management exchanged a portion of their holdings of Guitar Center’s debt into preferred stock and assumed a controlling interest in the company. Affiliates of Bain Capital retained partial ownership of the company, along with representation on the board of directors.

Concurrently with the partial debt-to-equity exchange, Guitar Center completed a refinancing of its remaining indebtedness with proceeds from new senior secured notes, senior unsecured notes, and a new revolving credit facility. Aside from carrying a lower interest burden, the company’s new debt structure provides for substantially more flexibility and improved credit terms over the next five years.

"These transactions significantly enhance Guitar Center’s financial position. On a cash flow basis, we expect to save more than $70 million a year in cash interest expense,” said Tim Martin, CFO, Guitar Center. “In addition, the removal of the restrictive term loan covenant and extension of the maturity dates of our facilities provides us with financial flexibility to execute our strategic plan and to grow the business."

Proskauer Rose LLP acted as legal advisor to Ares. Kirkland & Ellis LLP acted as legal advisor to Bain Capital and to Guitar Center. BofA Merrill Lynch, Deutsche Bank Securities, J.P. Morgan and RBC Capital Markets acted as joint bookrunners on the new Secured and Unsecured Notes. Wells Fargo Capital Finance and Bank of America Merrill Lynch acted as joint lead arrangers on the new revolving credit facility.

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