REAL ESTATE

Mass gaming experience takes root at Garden State Plaza

BY Al Urbanski

Young children looking for the carousel at Westfield’s Garden State Plaza mall in Paramus, New Jersey, were disappointed this past holiday season. Their older siblings, cousins, and perhaps even parents, were not.

Westfield replaced the attraction with the ESC Game Theater, a social gaming experience in which up to 30 people can engage in a game at the same time. Using wireless, motion-sensitive touchscreen devices, players can compete in more than a dozen seven-minute games, including Robot Basketball and Pixel Prison Blues. Games appear on a 30-foot-wide screen enhanced by surround-sound and synchronized lighting.

“Westfield is committed to redefining the shopping experience by leveraging the latest in technology and digital entertainment innovation, said Charley Delana, executive VP of global brand ventures for Westfield.

ESC Games CEO Todd Swidler, a veteran of the NBA and Bloomberg, said he plans to expand the concept across the U.S. and internationally.

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FINANCE

Analyst: ‘Still chance of a reasonable outcome’ for Walgreens-Rite Aid deal

BY CSA STAFF

An Evercore ISI analyst maintained his “buy” rating on Walgreens Boots Alliance stock, stating that although its proposed deadline for a deal with Rite Aid has been delayed, “there is still a chance of a reasonable outcome for both parties.”

The companies pushed back the deadline for merger from Jan. 27 to July 31 and trimmed the purchase price paid to Rite Aid to $6.50 to $7 per share — based upon the number of store divestitures the FTC requires — from $9 per share.

“On the [Walgereens] front, shareholders will be quite content to pursue this transaction (cost rationalization / de-leveraging exercise) despite the elevated divestiture count with accretion / PF leverage likely biased positively given the >20% haircut to deal value,” Evercore analyst Ross Muken wrote in a note.

He added if the FTC prefers a buyer other than Fred’s Pharmacy to purchase at least 865 divested Rite Aid stores, the timing of the deal’s closing date will likely change.

“Note, if a second buyer is required, this could likely result in the timing of the transaction to be biased toward the end agreement date (July 31) vs. more near-to-medium term,” wrote Muken.

Muken has a price target of $93 on shares of Walgreens. It shares currently trade for approximately $81 per share.

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WORKFORCE

Athleta debuts its first Fair Trade Certified styles

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Athleta’s latest line will provide a premium to the female workforce that created it.

The athleisure brand’s spring collection was manufactured in a factory certified by Fair Trade USA, an organization dedicated to creating social and economic opportunities for factory workers globally. For a product to earn Fair Trade certification, it must originate from a facility that operates according to the rigorous social, environmental and economic standards set in place by Fair Trade USA.

Athleta’s new line, which consists of more than 40 Fair Trade Certified styles, updates some of the brand's most popular product pieces, including the Sculptek Stealth collection, the High Neck Chi tank, and a range of additional tops and bottoms. The new merchandise is available in the retailer’s stores, catalog and online.

The goal of the program is to empower the female-dominated workforce manning the manufacturing facilities that create the merchandise. For example, these debuting styles are produced by a newly-certified facility in Sri Lanka. Among the facility’s 2,100-plus workers, more than 80% are women, Athleta reported.

For every Fair Trade Certified product sold, factory workers directly earn an additional financial premium which they collectively invest in the needs of their community. Previous investments, which are voted on and executed by the workers themselves, have included childcare, transportation, women's health programs, and education – all programs that directly benefit the lives of workers and their families.

"Supporting women in their ability to come together to reach their full potential is core to our brand," said Nancy Green, president, Athleta. "Partnering with Fair Trade USA is an important and natural step in di-rectly enabling the women who create Athleta clothes to positively affect their communities and families.”

Keeping up its Fair Trade commitment, Athleta plans to introduce more styles throughout the year. Its goal: to feature approximately 100 Fair Trade items by the end of 2017, the retailer said.

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