FINANCE

Macy’s-J.C.Penney Martha Stewart suit nears end

BY Dan Berthiaume

New York – The long-running legal dispute over whether J.C. Penney has the right to sell Martha Stewart Living products appears to be nearing a conclusion. The Wall Street Journal reports that lawyers for Macy’s, which is suing Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia alleging a breach of contract giving Macy’s exclusive rights to sell Martha Stewart Living, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, and Penney, which may face fines and/or a ban on selling Martha Stewart Living products, all gave closing arguments in New York State Supreme Court yesterday.

The suit centers on whether Penney had the right to develop in-store Martha Stewart-branded boutiques it planned in 2011, but never built. Lawyers for Macy’s say the boutiques violated an exclusivity agreement, while layers for Martha Stewart Living and J.C. Penney say the contract Macy’s drafted for Martha Stewart Living was vague and poorly written, leaving room for other retailers to sell some products. New York State Supreme Court Justice Jeffrey Oing is expected to issue a decision soon.

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FINANCE

Brand Keys: Back-to-school sales to decline; Amazon and Wal-Mart strong

BY Dan Berthiaume

New York — Households with school-age children (pre-kindergarten through 12th grade) plan a big cut-back in back-to-school spending. Results of the 2013 Brand Keys Back to School Report Card show that there will be a year-over-year decrease of 10% in back-to-school spending, or an average spend this year of just more than $600 per household.

However, not every retailer will experience a decline in back-to-school profits. This year, the eight retailers showing the greatest increase in consumer intent-to-shop were:

1. Amazon
2. Wal-Mart
3. Target
4. Macy’s
5. Zappos
6. TJ Maxx / Kohl’s
7. Best Buy / Footlocker
8. Staples

Average anticipated spending in the major back-to-school categories are all down from last year. This includes:

  • Clothing: $301 (-29%)
  • Shoes: (athletic & dress) $110 (-23%)
  • Computers/Electronics/Tablets/Smartphones: $150 (-32%)
  • Supplies: $ 39 (-60%)
  • Books/Study Aids: $ 10 (-56%)

Looking at preferred retail categories for back-to-school spending, discount stores, online platforms and, secondarily, catalogs were the only categories to show any increase. Ninety-seven percent of households will shop at discount stores (up 4%), while 72% will shop online (up 34%), 28% will shop at department stores (down 44%), 25% will patronize office supply stores (down 55%), 30% will frequent specialty retailers (down 10%) and 35% will use catalogs (up 3%).

This year’s survey showed that 70% of consumers intend to wait until the middle-to-end of August period to shop just before schools open. The genesis of the shorter back-to-school purchase cycle is a consequence of increased levels of consumer expectations, according to Brand Keys analysis.

“Some of what we’re seeing reflects concerns of a slowing economic recovery, but the specific back-to-school figures also represent a shift in consumer buying habits,” said Robert Passikoff, Brand Keys founder and president. “Retailers may be running back-to-school ads right now, but they’ve been discounting and couponing for the past seven months. Educated consumers have already stockpiled supplies for the first day of school.”

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Post cereal parent company moves to expand brands portfolio

BY CSA STAFF

ST. LOUIS — Cereal maker Post Holdings has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Premier Nutrition, makers of the Joint Juice brand.

PNC is a rapidly growing marketer and distributor of premium protein beverages and foods under its Premier Protein brand and nutritional supplements under its Joint Juice brand.

"The acquisition provides Post a platform in the growing active nutrition and supplements businesses," Post stated in a release. "The PNC business will be independently managed by its experienced management team located in Emeryville, California. David Ritterbush, current CEO of PNC, will continue in that role."

Terms of the deal call for $180 million in cash to be paid at the time of closing, subject to a working capital adjustment, and Post anticipates completing the all-cash transaction by September 2013.

"We are excited to enter this high growth and dynamic category," said Bill Stiritz, Post chairman and CEO. "We could not be more impressed with the terrific quality of the Premier team Dave has put together."

Post Holdings is the parent company of Post Foods, LLC and Attune Foods, LLC. Post’s products are generally sold to supermarket chains, wholesalers, supercenters, club stores, mass merchandisers, distributors, convenience stores and the foodservice channel in North America.

Post’s portfolio of brands includes Honey Bunches of Oats, Pebbles, Great Grains, Post Shredded Wheat, Post Raisin Bran, Grape-Nuts and Honeycomb. With recent acquisitions, Post’s portfolio of brands now also includes Attune, Uncle Sam, Erewhon, Golden Temple, Peace Cereal, Sweet Home Farm and Willamette Valley Granola Company.

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