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New Orleans Saints champion, partner, to expand Dunkin’ Donuts in Louisiana

BY Marianne Wilson

A new partnership plans to open dozens of Dunkin’ Donuts locations in Louisiana.

The company announced that New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees, in partnership with existing franchisee Vik Patel, has signed an agreement to develop up to 69 new Dunkin' Donuts restaurants in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Shreveport, Monroe and Alexandria, Louisiana over the coming years. Brees is a New Orleans Saints Super Bowl champion and MVP.

The first location under the new partnership is planned to open in 2017, and the group will also co-own five existing Dunkin' Donuts restaurants in Louisiana.

Dunkin’ Donuts Bourbon Street Donuts, LLC is led by Vik Patel, the CEO of Tampa-based Purple Square Management Co. Patel has been a Dunkin' Donuts franchisee for 10 years and currently operates 46 restaurants in Alabama, Florida and Louisiana. Purple Square also has plans to open additional units in 2017.

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Office Depot sells European business

BY Marianne Wilson

Office Depot Inc. continues to streamline its operations.

The office supply giant announced it has completed the sale of its European business to The Aurelius Group. The purchase price was not disclosed.

The transaction is part of the company's recently announced international divestiture strategy to focus on opportunities in its North American business.

Office Depot's European business has about 6,000 employees, operates in 14 countries and has annual revenues of about $2.8 billion.

“The sale of our European business will allow us to streamline operations and focus our resources on markets that will provide the best opportunity to implement our recently announced three-year strategic plan,” said Roland Smith, Office Depot chairman and CEO. “The Aurelius Group has a proven track record of positioning its acquisitions for future success, and we look forward to working with them to complete this transaction.”

According to Office Depot, Aurelius has completed more than 70 transactions across Europe since 2005. The firm specializes in investing in companies and corporate spin-offs, as well as complex divisional carve-outs from corporates.

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Report: 2016 digital holiday sales, online searches rise

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

While results were conservative, holiday digital sales surpassed 2015 figures.

That is one of the findings in the “2016 Holiday Season: By the Numbers” report from NetElixir. The search marketing firm aggregated holiday traffic data across more than 90 million visits among four different verticals (food and gourmet, consumer electronics, apparel and gifting), between Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. The search marketing data was extracted from Adwords, Bing and Yahoo Gemini platforms, while sales data was pulled directly from the e-commerce websites.

Compared to 2015, total e-commerce holiday sales increased by 10.43%. Meanwhile, purchases on mobile devices, or m-commerce, surpassed 30% in 2016. These findings match NetElixir’s forecasted holiday e-commerce figures, which were released in September 2016.

“While we hoped for better sales figures, we are pleased that we were able to predict the holiday ecommerce sales figures so accurately,” said Udayan Bose, CEO of NetElixir. “We attributed the conservative growth figures this year to several factors like earlier than usual holiday shopping with major online events like Amazon’s Prime Day, consumers using their mobile devices to purchase yet making less expensive purchases on mobile, and to the uncertain political environment.”

When analyzing e-commerce sales data by U.S. regions, the highest increase was in the south (19.9%). The next highest was in the west (9.5%), then central U.S. (6.5%), and the northeast (5.8%), data showed.

When examining search marketing trends, the report revealed that impressions saw the biggest lift this year with an increase of 35.7%, while conversions increased by 18.63%. The average cost-per-click went up by just 1.56%, and the average order value (AOV) decreased by 5.4%.

The most popular time of day to buy was between the hours of 12 p.m. to 8 p.m., and the second most popular time during the morning hours of 6 a.m. to 12 p.m. The same time of day statistics also applied to impressions and clicks, the report said.

“The uptick in mobile activity this holiday season caused conversions and impressions to increase fairly dramatically, but caused overall AOV to decrease as people typically spend less on their mobile devices than on desktops,” continued Bose. “The time of day rates are also important findings for retailers as they plan for future digital marketing campaigns, which should be focused on the afternoon hours when consumers are showing the most engagement and intent to purchase.”

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