I love some of the quotes that came out of this year’s Finance Forum, held in late January in Manhattan. The annual gathering of retail industry executives, suppliers and consultants has a reputation for lively chatter and it didn’t disappoint this year, thanks largely to J. Crew Group chairman and CEO Millard “Mickey” Drexler. The veteran — and notoriously outspoken — retailer wasn’t on the formal panel, but he had a few choice remarks to say from the audience during a question-and-answer session.
As widely reported, Drexler took issue with the upbeat assessment of the past holiday season and positive outlook for 2012 that kicked off the event.
“I don’t know what the optimism is about,” said Drexler, raising concern about the endless discounting and ratcheting up of promotions that retailers are engaging in attract shoppers and the continuing influx of “cheap players” into the retail marketplace.
Drexler also took issue with the nation’s malls and suggested that that mall operators should be doing more to drive shoppers to the stores.
“We pay a lot of rent,” he said. “I don’t see any excitement or improvement in 98% of them [of the nation’s malls].”
One thing that Drexler does not want mall operators to do, however, is sell popcorn next to one of his stores. He described visiting a store where the smell of popcorn was just too much for him to take.
As for those developers, one of the nation’s most prominent was in the audience.
“Mickey, God bless you. It’s not like you haven’t made a living off shopping malls, maybe two livings compared to a lot of us,” said Robert Taubman, chairman and CEO of Taubman Centers.
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CVS Caremark Q4 profit up nearly 4%
Woonsocket, R.I. — CVS Caremark Corp.’s fourth-quarter earnings rose nearly 4% to $1.06 billion, amid increased pharmacy services revenue because of a long-term contract and new business. The company raised its 2012 earnings forecast by 3 cents per share to account for gains it expects because of a contract dispute between Walgreens and Express Scripts Inc.
Net revenues for the quarter increased 15.2% to a record $28.3 billion. Drugstore revenue increased 4%. Same-store sales were up 2.5%.
For the full year, CVS earned $3.46 billion on $107.1 billion in revenue.
“As we close the chapter on 2011, we are optimistic that we can deliver even better results in 2012,” said Larry Merlo, president and CEO. “We have the right people, the right assets, and the right plans in place to continue to reinvent pharmacy and benefit from the changing health care landscape. Our retail business continues to execute successfully, while our PBM is poised to return to healthy operating profit growth in 2012.”
The chain opened 24 drug stores in the fourth quarter and closed one. It operated 7,327 as of Dec. 31.
Dunkin’ Donuts in deal for 11 stores in Denver, eight in El Paso
Canton, Mass. — Dunkin’ Donuts announced the signing of a multi-unit store development agreement with a newly formed subsidiary of Sizzling Platter, LLC (Sizzling Donuts, LLC) for 11 new restaurants in Denver, and eight in El Paso, Texas.
The company also acquired two additional existing restaurants in El Paso.