REAL ESTATE

Maurices opening 60 stores in 2014

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Duluth, Minn. — Ascena Retail Group, parent to the Maurices, DressBarn and Lane Bryant banners, announced the 900th Maurices store opening. The Fresno, Calif., store will officially open later this month, joining 899 other stores in the U.S. and Canada.

Maurices will open 60 new stores by the end of its fiscal year in July 2014. In addition to new store openings, Maurices is remodeling or expanding 80 stores this year.

The company’s long-term goal is to reach over 1,200 stores domestically and 100 stores in Canada.

"We’re thrilled with the growth of our stores and e-commerce business and the continued demand for Maurices,” said George Goldfarb, president of Maurices.

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REAL ESTATE

Johnny Rockets opens new restaurant in Kuwait

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Aliso Viejo, Calif. — Continuing its opening march through Kuwait, Johnny Rockets has opened a new restaurant at the Divonne Restaurant Complex in Kuwait City.

Franchisee Haidar Al-Naqeeb is expanding the American chain in the Arabian Gulf; his first unit opened in December 1995 at Salem Al-Mabarak in Salmiyah, Kuwait. Since that time, he’s grown his portfolio to now include over a dozen franchises in Kuwait, as well as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain with additional openings planned.

Divonne is the eighth Johnny Rockets to open in Kuwait and the third to open in the capital of Kuwait City, an area bolstered by a strong economic infrastructure. Ranked as one of the 25 largest GDP cities in the world, Kuwait City is among the world’s top financial hubs – a distinction also shared with New York, Tokyo, Moscow and Dubai.

"With a keen eye and perceptive outlook of what guests are seeking in a restaurant experience, Haidar has successfully brought a multitude of Johnny Rockets franchises to the Middle East," said John Fuller, CEO of Johnny Rockets. "The consistent quality of his restaurants is a testament to the passion that Haidar brings to his ownership role and will continue to offer guests of this new location."

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FINANCE

Francesca’s sees Q4 profit, comps slip; 85 stores on tap for 2014

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Houston — While 91 new stores boosted sales for the final fiscal quarter and year-end, Francesca’s Holdings Corp. saw net income for the 13-week period ended Feb. 1 slide to $10.6 million, from $14.9 million last year.

Same-store sales fell 6%, swinging from a 10% increase in the prior year quarter. Revenue surged to $92.1 million from $86.7 million, helped by 91 new boutique openings since the prior year quarter. Five of the 91 opened during the fourth quarter.

According to CEO Neill Davis, weather played a huge role in the disappointing fourth quarter results.

"Sales results for the fourth quarter were below our revised guidance driven by the impact of 370 full and partial daily boutique closings during January due to extreme weather conditions,” he said.

The company predicts ongoing softness in the first quarter, based on weakened traffic, but Neill said he expects an improving trend in the second half of the year.

For the full year, profit dipped to $44.8 million from $47.1 million, comps fell 2%, and sales increased 15% to $340.3 million.

Francesca’s said it plans to open approximately 60 new stores during the first quarter as compared to 56 openings during the prior year quarter. For the full year, the company will open about 85 stores, down slightly from its 91 openings in the previous year.

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