REAL ESTATE

Nordstrom Rack, Esprit to locate at newly rebranded Outlets at Orange

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Orange, Calif. — Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group said that its Block at Orange shopping center will officially be rebranded as The Outlets at Orange.

The new name will signify its distinction as the only outlet and value retail destination in Orange County, Calif. Among the new retail names at the center will be Nordstrom Rack and Esprit.

“The Outlets at Orange will deliver a great mix of outlet retailers, as well as dining and entertainment choices, which aligns it better with The Mills’ overall unique brand of shopping,” said Gregg Goodman, president of the Mills, a division of Simon. “With the growing number of outlet brands already open and coming soon to this property, the new name better reflects our vision, which will offer long-term value to the tourism economy and the local market.”

Anticipated branding changes include new exterior signage, website, brochures and other promotional materials.

The Outlets at Orange, originally built in 1998, features 800,000 sq. ft. of retail space with nearly 100 outlet and value retail stores, restaurants and family entertainment venues. As part of the transformation, designer name brand outlet stores such as Calvin Klein, DKNY Company Store, Tommy Hilfiger Co. Store, Perry Ellis and Original Penguin have recently opened.

In addition, Esprit will open this fall, while Nordstrom has announced plans to open a 35,000-sq.-ft. Nordstrom Rack at The Outlets at Orange during spring 2012. More stores will be announced at a later date.

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OPERATIONS

Esprit to divest North America operations, looking to offload 93 U.S. stores

BY Marianne Wilson

Hong Kong — On the heels of a 98% drop in its yearly earnings, Esprit Holdings said it is divesting its North American businesses and exiting three major European markets.

The company said it is actively looking for a partner willing to acquire its North American operations, which include 93 stores in the United States.

“We’ve currently engaged a private bank to assist us on exploring all options and all options are on the table,” said Ronald Van der Vis, Group CEO of Esprit Holdings "We’re looking at the possibility of licensing our North American operations and the third scenario, if we’re not successful in finding a partner, we’ll be closing them down."

Esprit also said is closing all its directly managed retail stores in Denmark, Sweden and Spain.

Esprit is now seeking to boost its presence outside of Europe, planning to invest more than US$2.3 billion on business operations and branding.

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FINANCE

Ascena Retail Q4 profit drops on charge, to open 125 to 135 stores

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Suffern, N.Y. — Ascena Retail Group, owner of the Dressbarn, Maurices and Justice chains, reported Wednesday that net income for the quarter ended July 30 fell to $28.2 million, from $42 million in the year-ago period on one-time charges and a shorter quarter for the performance slide.

On an adjusted basis, net income was up over last year, but still missed Wall Street expectations. Revenue rose 2% to $725.8 million, and same-store sales increased 7% overall. For the full fiscal year, Ascena earned $170.5 million. Its total revenue rose to $2.91 billion from $2.37 billion.

Our results were achieved in a very tough environment and we remained positioned for growth," David R. Jaffe, president CEO of Ascena, said in a statement. "We are certainly mindful of the pressures of today’s macro-economic environment and we are planning our business accordingly."

The company confirmed that it plans to open 125 to 135 stores, and close up to 35 in its new fiscal year.

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