REAL ESTATE

Marshalls expands in Maryland

BY Al Urbanski

A new Marshalls location will co-anchor the Shoppes at Apple Greene in Dunkirk, Maryland, along with Harris Teeter, according to center owners Echo Realty and Marrick Partners.

The 21,000-sq.-ft. location will be Marshalls’ first in Calvert County, due south of Baltimore, where Marshalls operates two stores.

The 48,000-sq.-ft. Harris Teeter store is under construction at Apple Greene, a new 100,000-sq.-ft. center with an additional 30,000 sq. ft. available for lease.

The commitments made by Marshalls and Harris Teeter are “a true testament to the strength of the Dinkirk community,” said Echo leasing director Nicole Zupan.

Echo also owns Calvert Village in Prince Frederick, home to Calvert County’s first TJ Maxx store. Marshalls and TJ Maxx are both owned and operated by The TJX Companies, which operate 3,800 off-price apparel and home goods stores in nine countries.

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FINANCE

Lane Bryant introduces in-store ‘stylists’

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

A specialty apparel retailer is making it even easier for its customers to shop the latest looks.

Lane Bryant, a division of apparel giant Ascena Retail Group, is launching an in-store personal styling service. Called LaneStyle Studio, the program features a team of personal shoppers that will assist customers throughout their store visits.

Customers can make an appointment for a free consultation where stylists are tasked with learning about shopper preferences and helping to pinpoint her personal style. Stylists will track down sizes of shoppers’ preferred merchandise, and help customers to find which apparel features the perfect fit.

The service is being introduced at launch parties across selected stores on July 28 and June 29. The chain operates a total of 776 Lane Bryant stores.

The personal stylist program comes at a time when Lane Bryant’s parent company is trying to navigate among an increasingly changing landscape, including lower foot traffic. This is one factor that is forcing Ascena to close “hundreds of stores,” however it is uncertain which brands will be affected, according to president and CEO David Jaffe.

Ascena currently operates over 4,800 stores throughout the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico. Jaffe said the company will close more than 250 locations by July. An additional 400 stores could close if the company can't negotiate reduced rent with landlords.

The competitive marketplace also took a toll on Ascena’s third quarter earnings. The company, which also operates brands such as Ann Taylor and Dressbarn, reported a net loss of $1.031 billion, or $5.29 per diluted share in its third quarter, ended April 29, which included a non-cash, pre-tax impairment charge of $1.3 billion to write down the company’s goodwill and other intangible assets. This compared to net income of $15 million last year, or $0.08 per diluted share, in the year-ago quarter.

Net sales fell to $1.565 billion, down from $1.669 billion in the year-ago period. Total same-store sales fell 8% amid a decline in store traffic across all brands.

Jaffe said the chain's third quarter performance reflected an extremely competitive market environment, characterized by persistent store traffic declines and intense commercial activity. And he sees no let-up in sight.

"We expect these factors will remain major headwinds for the foreseeable future and reflect an accelerated shift to consumer demand toward e-commerce,” Jaffe said. "Responding to the shift requires fundamental changes in retail operating model, and we’ve made significant progress toward transforming our business to compete in this new environment."

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ECOMMERCE

J.C. Penney ups the ante with Apple Pay

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

A department store retailer is stepping up its mobile game — in more ways than one.

J.C Penney now accepts Apple Pay across all of its stores nationwide. This addition enables customers to electronically pay with multiple versions of the iPhone and the Apple Watch.

Transactions remain secure as actual card numbers are neither stored on the device, nor on Apple servers. Instead, a unique device account number is assigned, encrypted and securely stored on the Apple device. Each transaction is authorized with a one-time unique dynamic security code.

"With Apple Pay, we're able to offer a faster, more seamless check out process by allowing our customers to pay for their purchases by simply holding their iPhone or Apple Watch near a point-of-sale terminal, rather than inserting a chip card," said Therace Risch, the retailer’s CIO.

To make the shopping process even more seamless, customers can also add their J.C. Penney credit card into the Apple Pay mobile wallet. This allows customers to earn shopping points through the J.C. Penney Rewards loyalty program, directly in the mobile wallet app.

“With the added convenience of our credit card as a payment option via Apple Pay, we're giving customers another reason to join our credit card and loyalty programs,” Risch added.

The department store retailer is also making plans to expand the service outside of its stores through functionality that will allow customers with the J.C. Penney app on iPhone and iPad to use Apple Pay to complete their mobile purchases. This service is “coming soon,” according to the retailer.

J.C. Penney operates more than 1,000 store locations across the United States and Puerto Rico.

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