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Music, books retailer files Chapter 11

BY Marianne Wilson

Draw Another Circle, the parent company of Texas-based HastingsEntertainment, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, with hopes of finding a buyer for its Hastings superstores.

In court filings in Delaware, Hastings CFO Duane A. Huesers cited both the “tremendous growth” of online retailers and the “decline in the market for physical media properties like music, movies, books, games and media rentals” for the chain’s troubles. The company operates 123 stores in 19 states, according to court filings.

Hastings’ sister brands, MovieStop and SP Images, were included in the bankruptcy filing. With MovieStop already in liquidation, Hastings asked court permission to continue closing 40 MovieStop locations under an arrangement it has with Gordon Brothers Retail Partners and to auction the remainder of its assets.

"In the past six months, Hastings has made significant progress in transforming our stores into entertainment destinations with exciting new categories that appeal to every member of the family and also extend to our e-commerce business,” stated Hastings president and chief operating officer Jim Litwak. "We are hopeful that we are on the right path but need an additional cash infusion to complete our remerchandising strategy.

Litwak said the Chapter 11 process will help the chain prepare for the intended sale while also providing additional protections and financing to allow it to contain ongoing operations.

Hastings posted a loss $10.9 million and revenue of $420 million in 2014. In 2015, losses rose to $16.6 million and revenue decreased to $401 million.

Hastings was founded in 1968. In July 2014, t was acquired by Draw Another Circle LLC.

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Study: Store design key to attracting C-store shoppers

BY Marianne Wilson

Store design plays a crucial role in attracting customers and driving foodservice sales in convenience stores.

That’s according to the new study, Food-Forward C-store Design, which comes as more convenience retailers are pursuing foodservice as a growth opportunity.

The report, from foodservice research and consulting firm Technomic and retail branding and design agency Chute Gerdeman, was undertaken to understand how evolving consumer demands and preferences for prepared foods and beverages can be met through convenience store design, décor, and layout.

“Foodservice is now a strategic priority for the majority of convenience retailers, and the competitive landscape requires them to raise the bar on store design to increase consumer appeal," said Donna Hood Crecca, associate principal at Technomic.

The interactive survey of 1,000 consumers revealed insights about the role of store layout and design elements in the success of convenience foodservice programs. Key takeaways include:

• An updated, elevated store ambience is vital to foodservice sales as it sends a message about the commitment to foodservice and conveys cleanliness and quality.

• Ease of navigation is prioritized, and clearly delineated foodservice preparation, display and dining areas heighten the appeal of the offering.

• Consumers value foodservice quality and freshness cues in convenience stores. Whether at made-to-order stations, in grab-and-go cases or on hot/cold food bars, consumers want to see the prepared foods offered and appreciate other visual elements that supporting the quality and freshness of the offerings.

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Luxury department store reports decline in sales and profit

BY Marianne Wilson

The combination of a cool spring and the continued pullback in luxury apparel spending took a toll on Neiman Marcus Group in the company’s third quarter.

The department store retailer’s profit plunged 80% in the period ended April 30, down to $3.8 million from $19.8 million in the year-ago period.

Total revenue for the quarter fell 4.2% to $1.17 billion, down from $1.22 billion a year ago.

Same-stores sales fell 5%.

In October, Neiman Marcus delayed its plans for an initial public offering amid volatility in the stock market and a slump in stocks of luxury companies.

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