HOT CONCEPTS

NYC Retail: Must-See New Stores

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — As the Big Apple gets ready to host the National Retail Federation’s “Big Show,” which kicks off Sunday, Jan. 11, the city’s retail scene is buzzing. Here are 10 must-see new spaces:

• Birchbox: The four-year old online beauty subscription brand goes brick-and-mortar with a two-level store that brings its digital experience to life. Technology is used create a personalized shopping experience via touch-screens that enable customers to source customized product recommendations and iPads on which they can view customer reviews and video demonstrations. Select salon services are offered, and yes — there is a B.Y.O.B (build your own Birchbox) section. (433 West Broadway)

• Bond No.9: Fragrance marketer Bond No. 9’s redesigned flagship is opulent and rich on atmosphere. It’s modeled on a 21st century version of the Palace of Versailles’ Hall of Mirrors, complete with glittering chandeliers and smoky mirrors. Be sure to check out the 16-ft.-long consultation and custom blending table. (9 Bond St.)

• Express: The three-level, 22,500-sq.-ft. store is the chain’s largest, and most dazzling to date. The interior has an ultra-contemporary look, with marble checkout counters, chandeliers and tall glass display vitrines. Its 150-ft.-high exterior LED billboard is a showstopper. (1552 Broadway)

• H&M: The Swedish fast-fashion giant hit the trifecta in 2014, debuting two new retail brands (the pricey, sophisticated COS, and the more affordable, European-influences & Other Stories) and opening its largest namesake store to date, a 57,000 sq. ft. flagship on Fifth Avenue. The flagship is sleek and upscale with marble tiles, leather furniture, stylized mannequin groupings and such extras as a free personal shopping service. (H&M, 589 Fifth Ave.; COS, 129 Spring St.; & Other Stories, 575 Broadway)

• Oakley: From its tectonic-plated exterior to its floating digital ceiling, Oakley dazzles with its combination of technological innovation and personalization. The 6,800-sq.-ft. store includes a custom eyewear bar where customers can use touch-screens to build their own eyewear, choosing from lens tints, frames, etc. The ceiling is made up of nine rows of screens suspended across the entire length of the space. The content mixes branded storytelling, art pieces, animations, and footage of Oakley athlete. (560 Fifth Ave.)

• Polo Ralph Lauren: The first-ever Polo flagship reflects the brand’s new, more youthful sensibility, and has a modern American feel. Showcasing the full range of Polo menswear and women’s clothing and accessories over three levels, the 38,000-sq.-ft. space also features a coffee shop — with the designer’s own personal blends — and a full-service restaurant. (711 Fifth Ave.)

• Rebecca Minkoff: Fashion designer Rebecca Minkoff teamed up with eBay Inc. to open a store as playful and forward-looking as her brand. The entire space is layered with touch-screen technology, starting with what looks like a mirror but is actually a connected screen that lets shoppers view some of the designer's favorite looks plus footage from runway shows. It also allows them to use a touch-screen to select items to be brought to the fitting room-or to order a beverage. RFID-enabled touch-screen mirrors in the fitting rooms automatically recognizes the items that are brought in, identifying other sizes and colors that are available in the store. If the shopper needs a different size, a touch of the mirror submits the request to a store associate.
(96 Greene St.)

• Topshop: The British fashion brand’s new flagship is big — 40,000 sq. ft. — and dazzling, with a cool vibe and plenty of on-trend merchandise. It promises to replenish its stock weekly, with 300 new pieces delivered every seven days. (608 Fifth Ave.)

• Under Armour: The activewear giant’s two-level Soho flagship is an immersive brand experience, and houses its most comprehensive assortment of men's, women's and children’s apparel, footwear and equipment to date. Check out the upfront video wall that features Under Armour-affiliated athletes engaged in various sporting activities. (583 Broadway)

• Urban Outfitters: Urban Outfitters steps out with a “lifestyle store” in the heart of Herald Square. The 57,000-sq.-ft. space — the brand’s largest to date — is big on independently-operated branded in-store shops and includes such extras as a hair salon, bookshop, eyewear department, coffee bar and photography shop (with a booth for printing Instagram snapshots). There is even a vinyl records department curated by the legendary Ameoba Music. (1333 Broadway).

And if you have some extra time, journey to hipster Williamsburg (in Brooklyn) and check out Urban Outfitters’ other new concept, Space Ninety 8, which includes a full-service restaurant, bar, a rotating pop-up shop and a market space for local artisans.

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FINANCE

J.C. Penney same-store holiday sales up 3.7%

BY Marianne Wilson

Plano, Texas — J.C. Penney is reflecting in a post-holiday glow and feeling bullish about its business going forward after reporting a 3.7% increase in same-store sales during the holidays (the nine week period from November through December). The retailer also said that it expects its fourth-quarter comparable sales will be at the top end of its forecast range of a 2% to 4% gain.

"Our highest priority over the last year has been to restore profitable sales growth at J.C. Penney," said J.C. Penney CEO Mike Ullman. "This holiday season was instrumental in that effort – and our teams delivered. I would like to thank our associates for their hard work, warrior spirit and commitment to delivering an exceptional customer experience every day. Customers clearly responded to our combination of great merchandise and compelling promotions this holiday season. We are proud of these results, and believe the work we are doing will fuel the continued growth of our business."

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FINANCE

Safeway to pay $9.87 million for environmental violations

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Safeway has agreed to pay $9.87 million in penalties as part of a settlement of a civil environmental lawsuit.

The settlement stems from allegations that more than 500 Safeway stores and distribution centers throughout California improperly handled and disposed of various hazardous wastes and materials, ranging from pharmaceuticals and over-the-counter medications to batteries and electronic devices, over a period of seven and a half years.

Under the judgment, Safeway must pay $6.72 million in civil penalties and $3.15 million for environmental projects and investigative costs. The supermarket chain will also continue its store-level environmental compliance program, conduct annual dumpster audits and work with state and federal agencies to promote regulatory reform regarding disposal of medicines, according to the order.

In a statement, Safeway said that it is among a number of retailers” who have agreed to change how they characterize everyday retail items no longer for sale "that the state considers potentially hazardous waste," including detergents, aerosol sprays, hair dye, antibacterial soaps and mascara.

“Safeway has had a set of procedures and policies in place for some time to properly identify, segregate and dispose of hazardous materials," it said in the statement. "We have enhanced these programs and added new and supplementary training to ensure adherence to the law and to our policies.

The Safeway settlement is the most recent in a series of hazardous waste suits against major retailers doing business in California. In April, Lowe’s was ordered to pay $18.1 million to settle similar allegations. Walgreens and Rite Aid also agreed to pay fines.

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