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NRF: Retail import volume grows ahead of holidays

BY Dan Berthiaume

Washington, D.C. – Import volume at the nation’s major retail container ports is expected to grow 5.1% in September over the same month last year as retailers head into the holiday season. U.S. ports followed by the monthly Global Port Tracker report, released today by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates, handled 1.43 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) in July, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available.

That was a 5.4% increase from June and up 1.1% from July 2012, and follows year-over-year declines in three of the four previous months. One TEU is one 20-ft. cargo container or its equivalent. August was estimated at 1.48 million TEU, up 4.1% from last year. September is forecast at 1.48 million TEU, up 5.1%, October at 1.46 million TEU, up 9%; November at 1.31 million TEU, up 2.2%; and December at 1.3 million TEU, up 0.7%. January 2014 is forecast at 1.33 million TEU, up 1.9% from January 2013.

The total for 2013 is forecast at 16.2 million TEU, up 2.5% from 2012’s 15.8 million TEU. The first six months of 2013 totaled 7.8 million TEU, up 1.2% from the first half of 2012.

“The U.S. economy is on the road to sustained growth,” Hackett Associates founder Ben Hackett said. “Second-quarter GDP was well above expectations and surprised most forecasters, the unemployment picture is improving, and we believe consumer confidence will translate into increased sales during the fourth quarter.”

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Neiman Marcus reaches $6 billion sale agreement

BY Dan Berthiaume

Dallas – Ares Management and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board have reached an agreement to purchase Neiman Marcus for $6 billion from a group of investors led by TPG Capital and Warburg Pincus, the private equity firms that bought Neiman Marcus for $5.1 billion in 2005.

“We are delighted to join with CPPIB as a long-term investor in Neiman Marcus Group, a leading luxury retailer with global brand recognition that attracts shoppers from all over the world,” said David Kaplan, senior partner and co-head of the Private Equity Group of Ares. “We share a common vision with the company’s management team, led by its highly respected CEO Karen Katz, and together, we plan on investing meaningful capital into the business to ensure Neiman’s long-term position as the unparalleled leader in luxury retail.”

In a prepared statement, Kaplan also said the Neiman Marcus purchase fits Ares’ strategy of accelerating growth in retail and consumer companies. Ares and CPPIB will hold an equal economic interest in Neiman Marcus, and the company’s management will retain a minority stake. Neiman Marcus filed for an IPO in June, but there is no indication an IPO will take place following the purchase.

"On behalf of the entire management team, we are delighted to be joining with Ares and CPPIB to continue enhancing our strong brands by offering our customers the best edited merchandise assortments as well as delivering a superlative omnichannel shopping experience,” said CEO Karen Katz. “For the past eight years, TPG and Warburg Pincus have been valued partners whose investment has supported our growth and strengthened our brands."

The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2013, subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions. Credit Suisse acted as financial advisor to Neiman Marcus Group, and RBC Capital Markets and Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. acted as financial advisors to Ares and CPPIB, all of which provided committed debt financing in connection with the transaction.

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Be Like Jack: Lessons from a Hollywood Icon for Social Retail

BY Dan Berthiaume

The rapid spread of a presumably false rumor about Jack Nicholson retiring from acting last week got me thinking about what a true Hollywood icon he has become and how he took a very unique path to greatness. Retailers aspiring to greatness in their social efforts may want to “be like Jack” in the way they apply social media technology.

Know your own strengths
According to legend, a producer who rejected Nicholson for a part early in his career told him, “We don’t need you right now, but when we do need you, we’ll need you badly.” Nicholson was not a conventional leading man and did not become a Hollywood superstar by portraying conventional roles. He had a singular ability to find and project the humanity in troubled and even dangerous characters and make the audience understand and sympathize with them, and leveraged that ability to its fullest.

Retailers need to take a similar approach to their social strategies. An edgy, youth-oriented retailer should have a very different social marketing campaign from a mass merchandiser. A retailer with a highly efficient supply chain should take advantage of it with real-time or near-real-time social offers, while another retailer with superior customer satisfaction scores should use social media to create brand evangelists out of happy shoppers. There is no “right” path to social retail success any more than there was a “right” path for Nicholson to achieve superstardom.

Stay true to yourself
Once you know your own strengths, be willing to stay true to them, even if it does not produce immediate results. Nicholson was hardly an overnight sensation, plodding through years of bad 1960s horror and biker flicks before breaking through with a supporting role in the 1969 hit “Easy Rider” (a great 1960s biker flick). He was in his early 30s, far from young in Hollywood years, but by sticking to the kinds of performances he knew he was meant to play, Nicholson was able to become one of the biggest movie stars in the world for the next five decades.

Especially in the fast-paced world of digital retail, it’s easy to assume a social media strategy is a failure if it doesn’t instantly produce huge results. But if a strategy is properly aligned with a retailer’s core strengths and values, it is bound to eventually catch on and produce long-term success that following the latest short-term social retailing trends will not.

Stand out from the crowd
Nicholson did not rise to the top by being another pretty face on the silver screen. He stands out as a colorful and intriguing presence and has never been afraid to deviate from the norm in his performances.

Now that social media has lost its novelty as a retail channel, retailers need to also stand out from the crowd in their social activities. An appealing Facebook page and clever tweets are important, but not enough on their own to make customers take notice. Make your social presence colorful, intriguing and a little different. Use the real-time nature of social media to reward customers for active participation and use video, audio and even 3-D and artificial reality technologies to do things in your social space that couldn’t be done anywhere else. Jack Nicholson used film to create personal connections with millions of viewers; you can use social media to do the same with millions of consumers.


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Sep-27-2013 03:31 am

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B.Johnson says:
Sep-27-2013 03:31 am

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