FINANCE

Lowe’s purchase of Orchard Supply moves forward

BY Dan Berthiaume

Mooresville, N.C. — The Aug. 9 deadline for additional bids on the proposed purchase of Orchard Supply Hardware by Lowe’s Companies Inc. has passed with no activity. This means Lowe’s can move ahead with plans to acquire the majority of assets of Orchard Supply Hardware, including 72 stores, for approximately $205 million in cash, plus the assumption of payables owed to nearly all of Orchard’s supplier partners, first announced June 17.

The transaction will be presented to the Bankruptcy Court for approval on Aug. 20, and Lowe’s anticipates completing the acquisition by the end of August.

Lowe’s plans to have Orchard operate as a separate, standalone business, retaining its brand under the leadership of Orchard’s current management team. Lowe’s plans to acquire the locations most complementary to its current strategy and store footprint.

“We are very pleased to be moving forward with the acquisition process,” said Robert A. Niblock, chairman, president and CEO of Lowe’s. “Strategically, the transaction will provide Lowe’s with an attractive opportunity to increase our store footprint in California, where we are currently underpenetrated, through a neighborhood store format that is complementary to our strengths in big-box retail. Orchard’s hardware and garden stores have a loyal customer base and are situated in high-density, prime locations that are difficult for larger format retailers to enter.”

Niblock added that the company sees significant potential for Orchard as a standalone business within Lowe’s portfolio.

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News

Report: American Apparel ditches handheld readers in favor of RFID

BY Dan Berthiaume

Los Angeles – American Apparel is automating in-store inventory tracking processes with a wide-area RFID, eliminating the need for handheld readers. As reported by RFID 24-7, following a six-month pilot, American Apparel has deployed an automated inventory system using fixed RFID antennae mounted in ceiling track lights at all locations in North America.

The solution uses Seintron inventory visibility technology and Impinj Speedway readers, antenna hubs and GrandPrix RFID platform. On a continual basis, the system transmits data from RFID inventory tags with Impinj Monza chips to a database providing real-time RFID coverage across the store. Ninety-eight percent of items in the store are tagged.

Reported benefits from the use of RFID to automate in-store inventory management include improvements in inventory accuracy, on-shelf availability, security, and the ability to locate merchandise. In addition, combining inventory visibility with POS data American Apparel can improve analytics of its merchandising performance and elimination of previously manual cycle counts provides store associates and managers with more time to perform customer-facing tasks.

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OPERATIONS

Meijer expands digital coupon initiative

BY Dan Berthiaume

Grand Rapids, Mich. — Meijer is expanding its mPerks digital coupon program to include pharmacy purchases, allowing customers to earn $10 off their total shopping purchase, 5% off total grocery and health-and-beauty purchases or 50 cents off per gallon of Meijer gas for every five eligible prescriptions filled. Customers can also hang onto their rewards and keep filling prescriptions to earn double rewards, saving as much as $1 per gallon on gas or $20 off their next shopping visit.

Meijer launched mPerks in the fall of 2010 as a faster, easier way for customers to clip coupons. The retailer says as many as 25,000 customers sign up for the free online program, which has a redemption rate up to four times the national average.

"Pharmacy rewards is just the latest way we go beyond offering everyday low prices and weekly specials to help our customers save money," said Michael Ross, VP of customer marketing and emerging technology. "We are excited to expand mPerks for our 1.5 million subscribers, and hope they enjoy personalizing their savings even more when they checkout."

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