News

New Looks, New Formats

BY Marianne Wilson

Two new projects blend aesthetics and functionality to offer environments that reflect the latest in contemporary design and modern comfort. Both share a penchant or distinctive storefronts:

CASSIS

Reitman (Canada) Limited extends its portfolio with a new format, Cassis, targeted at babyboomer women. The 3,100-sq.-ft. store, in Barrie, Ontario, offers midpriced apparel in an upscale setting that is inviting and easy to shop.

To achieve maximum impact, half of the storefront and nearly 150 ft. of the floor space is devoted to a stylish, welcoming foyer. The other half of the front elevation is a huge window expanse softly framed in gauzy drapery. It offers a empting view of the environment beyond.

The interior has a gentle, open feel, enhanced by platform-based, low fixtures that are coupled with nesting tables. Mannequins stand in a runway formation that runs the length of the store, providing wardrobing ideas and navigational cues.

The design team treated light as a primary design material. A combination of cove lighting, recessed spotlights and perimeter lighting fills the space with a soft, warm glow. It is complemented by an eclectic mix of finishes and materials.

“We used a lot of diffused lighting, which is very flattering,” said Allan Tse, designer, II BY IV Design Associates, Toronto.

CASSIS

Design: II BY IV Design Associates, TorontoContractor: Sajo Construction, Montreal

Par-20 metal-halide lamps are used extensively throughout. Also featured are MR16s and T5 fluorescents (in the cove lighting).

“The new metal-halide technology is energy-efficient and has a fantastic color rendition,” Tse added.

The overall effect is such that the store is bright, but not in a glaring or harsh way.

“We were very conscious that as you mature, you need a brighter space,” Tse said.

In the fitting rooms, recessed, halo-lit mirrors and decorative, custom pendant lamps provide a flattering light. T5 compact fluorescents trace the back of each mirror. A ceiling cove washes lighting down in each of the rooms. “We didn’t do any downlighting over the mirrors,” Tse said. “The light is all diffused, and has a nice soft glow.”

Cassis, which debuted in 2006, has enjoyed a higher dollar volume per transaction than expected. It has been rolled out in a total of 10 locations, with more on the way.

CALVIN KLEIN UNDERWEAR

Calvin Klein Underwear, a division of Warnaco, takes its retail store concept to the next level with a design that embodies the essence of the brand. The 1,800-sq.-ft. store, in NorthPark Center, Dallas, is made up of a series of elements that, taken in their totality, offer up a well-edited, targeted composition that reflects the nature of the goods on display. Evocative graphics play a key role in setting the mood.

An asymmetrical storefront with the opening justified to the left helps the store stand out from the other retailers. The entry allows for an uninterrupted, 17-ft. expanse of the shop front window. The entrance also creates a frame for a monumental graphic that measures 6 ft. by 11 ft. The photograph, a shot from the current advertising campaign, is located just inside the door. It is paired with an even larger one on the back focal wall of the 1,800-sq.-ft. shop. A third is placed on the right hand wall.

“Even with their size, the graphics don’t overwhelm the merchandise presentation,” said Steven Derwoed, managing director, RYA Design Consultancy, Dallas. “They are there to support the product and to ensure just the right degree of attitude and sexiness.”

CALVIN KLEIN UNDERWEAR

Design: RYA Design Consultancy, DallasContractor: McGovern & Co., New York City

The women’s area, a key driver of the store concept, takes up 70% of the selling space. A custom, low-profile puck system (used on the perimeter) provides flexibility and unobtrusiveness. A soffit brings the eye down and creates a sense of place for the product.

Perimeter graphics and elegant, 2-in.- thick cast-resin fins that allow the product presentation to appear both monumental and manageable provide architectural articulation. The fins, which appear to grow out of the architecture, are in line with the “elegant and effortless” theme of the store and the brand itself.

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FINANCE

Home Depot Projects Lower Profit in 2007

BY CSA STAFF

Atlanta, The Home Depot Inc. said Wednesday it will pump $2.2 billion into improving its business this year even as it expects lower earnings and slim sales growth. Home Depot said that for fiscal 2007 it expects sales growth in the range of flat to an increase of 2%, a decline in comp-store sales in the middle single digit percentages and an earnings per share decline of 4% to 9%.

Including the effect of a 53rd week in its fiscal year, consolidated sales are expected to increase by 1% to 2%, and earnings per share are expected to decline by 3% to 8%, Home Depot said.

CEO Frank Blake told investors at Wednesday’s conference that like last year, “2007 also will be a difficult year.” But he said it will be a year of focus on Home Depot’s priorities and a year with “hopefully less noise.”

The “noise” was apparently a reference to the investor furor over former CEO Bob Nardelli’s hefty compensation in light of the company’s lagging stock price. Nardelli resigned in early January after six years at the helm of the company. He took with him a severance package valued at $210 million.

To improve its business, Home Depot said it will invest $2.2 billion this fiscal year in key priorities, including the opening of 115 stores. The investment includes $1.6 billion in capital spending and $600 million in expense.

Home Depot said it will recruit master trade specialists, simplify its staffing model, use more technology to aid customer service, and redesign employee compensation and reward plans. It also will invest in new merchandise and review its pricing strategies. Additionally, the chain will spend money on customer loyalty programs, direct-ship programs, credit programs and other specialty sales initiatives.

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Federated Plans Name Change

BY CSA STAFF

New York City, Federated Department Stores on Tuesday said it would ask shareholders to approve changing the company’s corporate name to Macy’s Group Inc. A vote to amend the corporation’s charter to accommodate the new name will be held in conjunction with Federated’s annual meeting on May 18. If approved, the company will be known as Macy’s Group Inc., effective June 1. The move comes on the heels of the company changing most of its store nameplates to Macy’s.

“Macy’s Group is the appropriate name for our company, given that about 90% of our sales involve the Macy’s brand. That said, Bloomingdale’s is—and will remain—a very important part of our company,” said Terry J. Lundgren, Federated’s chief executive. Federated Department Stores also said stronger sales at established stores and lower costs drove a 5% rise in fourth-quarter earnings. For the quarter ended Feb. 3, net income rose to $733 million from $699 million the prior-year period. Sales fell 4% to $9.16 billion from $9.57 billion, as the company shuttered 80 “duplicative” store locations. Comp-store sales rose 6.1% in the quarter.

During the quarter, Federated lowered its selling, general and administrative costs 11% to $2.31 billion.

The company also announced a $4 billion increase to its stock buyback program and said it will immediately repurchase 45 million shares for $2 billion under the plan.

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