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Neiman Marcus Q1 profit triples

BY CSA STAFF

Dallas — Neiman Marcus Group reported Thursday that profit for the quarter ended Oct. 30 tripled to $25.7 million, compared with $8.5 million in the year-ago period. The retailer cited more full-price selling, higher customer traffic and lower costs for the strong performance.

The operator of its namesake and Bergdorf Goodman stores saw sales rise 6.7% to $927 million. Same-store sales increased 6.4% following a 14% plunge a year ago.

Sales in Neiman’s specialty retail segment rose 5.5% as operating earnings jumped 22%. The direct-marketing segment, which includes web and catalog sales, had a 13% rise in sales while profit was up 15%.

"Our sense is that customers are tired of shopping their closets and want something new," CEO Karen Katz told the Dallas Morning News. "It bears repeating, too, that with leaner inventory comes an aura of exclusivity, and our customers seem to understand that it may no longer pay to wait for the markdowns if it’s something they really want."

Neiman Marcus is seeing a resurgence of its men’s business as well, she said.

Katz was named CEO in October, after veteran chief Burt Tansky retired. She said the company will decide "which direction to take" with its contemporary specialty store concept called Cusp, which was launched just before the recession. And three Last Call Studio stores are being evaluated for expansion prospects.

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The Crossings at Four Corners redevelopment gets zoning and financing nod

BY CSA STAFF

Smyrna, Ga. — Westchester, Ill.-based Tri-Land Properties announced that it has received zoning and financing approval for The Crossings at Four Corners in Smyrna, Ga. Tri-Land has sold eight acres of the project to Cincinnati, Ohio-based Kroger Co.

Cole Taylor, a Chicago based lender, is providing the construction financing for the project.

The Kroger Co. will build a 96,000-sq.-ft. supermarket, the company’s largest grocery store in the Atlanta market. The Crossings at Four Corners Kroger location is replacing an outdated, 42,000-sq.-ft., 40- year-old store located across the street.

Kroger at The Crossings at Four Corners will offer a fuel station, bakery and deli products, a floral department, a wine shop and drive-thru pharmacy.

In addition to the new Kroger, the redevelopment will include the installation of a traffic light at the northwest corner of South Cobb Drive and Concord Road, the renovation of 60,000 sq. ft. of retail space and the development of eight outparcels available for development.

Currently 153,000 sq. ft., the completed center will expand to 230,000 sq. ft.

Construction is scheduled to begin in January 2011 and is slated for a Mid-November 2011 construction completion and Kroger opening.

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Verizon Business sees mobile commerce demand, cloud adoption spread

BY CSA STAFF

Basking Ridge, N.J. — Verizon Business, which delivers integrated, secure IT solutions to many of the world’s largest retailers, said it predicts the following five trends will shape the retail industry in the coming year.

First, the company expects mobile commerce demand will spike. “Consumers have high expectations for m-commerce,” according to Verizon Business. Customer demand for m-commerce, however, will outpace retailers’ ability to deliver it. “Retailers must adapt their IT systems and processes to support m-commerce, or risk alienating customers,” the company said.

The cloud is expected to go mainstream. Verizon Business said
retailers will turn to the cloud (web-based computing delivered “as a service”) more and more as they look to control cost and reduce complexity while boosting agility. Also, ownership of brand will shift from retailer to consumer. “Consumers are relying more on discussions and customer evaluations that take place over social media to drive product selection, as opposed to supplier or retailer advertising,” said Verizon Business. “Consumers will increasingly ignore store associates and instead conduct research on their own — or via their mobile device while in the store.”

Security and compliance continue to be concerns, the company said. New technologies will require increased protection of consumer personally identifiable information such as social security (or national identification) and credit card numbers. Also, with the October release of the updated Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), retailers must quickly get up to speed on changes to the standard and incorporate them into their IT processes. Updates to the standard will force retailers to take a much closer look at securing virtualization technology and improving risk-management capabilities.

And, finally, shopping in “silos” will disappear. Previously, retailers operated their various customer touch points as separate business units, using distinct staffs and business processes for their websites, brick-and-mortar stores, and mobile commerce engines. Customers, however, now expect one seamless, consistent store experience, whether they are visiting the store or its website, or shopping from a smart phone.

“The retail industry is rapidly evolving,” said Ravi Bagal, VP retail and distribution for Verizon Business. “Consumers are challenging the industry to adapt to the ways they live and shop today. Supported by emerging technologies, consumers will be more focused than ever on price and convenience. As such, retailers will need to even more clearly differentiate themselves through excellent customer service that’s further enabled through technology.”

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