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Michaels prepares for IPO

BY Dan Berthiaume

Dallas – Michaels Stores Inc., which has been privately held since 2006, is planning to launch an IPO in 2014. According to a regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), private equity owners Bain Capital Partners and Blackstone Group will retain control of the retailer after the public stock sale.

Michaels, which currently operates 1,259 stores in the U.S., and Canada, said in the filing it expects new stores and an e-commerce site it plans to launch in 2014 will produce growth. The retailer’s current site does not allow transactions. It expects to open 40-50 new stores during 2014 and opened 54 stores averaging 19,000 sq. ft. during the nine months ended Nov. 2, 2013.

In the filing, Michaels said its growth strategy includes broadening the appeal of stores to DIY projects as well as crafters, making stores more shoppable with flexible formats, launching a new e-commerce site, marketing efforts that include print, digital, direct mail, broadcast and community events, and improving merchandising and sourcing to better identify and source new trends, merchandise and categories.

J.P. Morgan and Goldman, Sachs & Co will lead the offering. Michaels, whose annual revenue is $4.4 billion, will not receive proceeds from the IPO but remain holding $3.7 billion in debt.

“We expect our new e-commerce platform will allow us to sell much of our current assortment while also expanding into e-commerce-only products,” the company said in the filing. “Although we expect this channel will produce a more limited sales penetration than more commoditized retail categories, we believe it will augment our multichannel strategy to broaden our customer base and improve the shopping experience.”

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Walgreens earns perfect score on Corporate Equality Index

BY Dan Berthiaume

Deerfield Park, Ill. – Walgreens received a perfect score of 100% on the 2014 Corporate Equality Index (CEI). This marks the ninth year Walgreens earned 100% on the CEI, a national benchmarking survey and report on corporate policies and practices related to LGBT workplace equality, administered by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.

The 2014 CEI rated 934 businesses in the report, which evaluates LGBT-related policies and practices including non-discrimination workplace protections, domestic partner benefits, transgender-inclusive healthcare benefits, competency programs and public engagement with the LGBT community. Walgreens efforts satisfied all of the CEI’s criteria resulting in a 100% ranking and the designation as a Best Place to Work for LGBT Equality. Walgreens joins the ranks of 303 major U.S. businesses, which also earned top marks this year.

"As a company that prides itself on its commitment to diversity and inclusion, we know that an atmosphere that fosters people’s growth and development despite individual differences is critical to the future of our company," said Kathleen Wilson-Thompson, chief human resource officer of Walgreens. “It is an honor to be recognized once again by the Human Rights Campaign for our commitment to diversity and inclusiveness, and I applaud our team for continuing to evolve policies and practices to help ensure a welcoming workplace for all.”

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Conference Board: leading economic index up in November

BY Dan Berthiaume

New York — The Conference Board Leading Economic Index (LEI) for the U.S. increased 0.8% in November to 98.3 (2004 = 100), following a 0.1% increase in October, and a 1% increase in September.

The 10 components of The Conference Board Leading Economic Index for the U.S. include average weekly hours, manufacturing; average weekly initial claims for unemployment insurance; manufacturers’ new orders, consumer goods and materials; ISM index of new orders; manufacturers’ new orders, nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft orders; building permits, new private housing units; stock prices, 500 common stocks; Leading Credit Index; interest rate spread, 10-year Treasury bonds less federal funds; and average consumer expectations for business conditions.

“The LEI continues on a broad-based upward trend, suggesting gradually strengthening economic conditions through early 2014,” said Ataman Ozyildirim, economist at The Conference Board. “Improving labor markets and new orders in manufacturing, combined with strong financial indicators, drove November’s gain. However, consumers’ outlook for the economy and the drop in housing permits continue to pose risks in 2014.”

In addition, the Conference Board Coincident Economic Index (CEI) for the U.S. increased 0.4% in November to 107.2 (2004 = 100), following a 0.1% increase in October, and a 0.3% increase in September. And the Conference Board Lagging Economic Index (LAG) was unchanged in November, remaining at 119.9 (2004 = 100), following a 0.3% increase in October and a 0.6% increase in September.

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