SUPPLY CHAIN

Obama administration moves to end West Coast port dispute

BY Dan Berthiaume

Washington, D.C. – The National Retail Federation is welcoming the direct involvement of Labor Secretary Tom Perez in the ongoing dispute between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and Pacific Maritime Association (PMA).

The Obama administration has dispatched Perez to participate in talks aimed at ending the standoff between West Coast port workers and management which resulted in a four-day shutdown of ports on the U.S. West Coast from Feb. 13-16.

Jonathan Gold, VP of supply chain for the NRF, applauded the decision to directly involve Perez.

"We welcome the administration's attention to this important national and international economic and supply chain issue and hope it recommits the two sides to reaching a deal,” said Gold. “The slowdowns, congestion and suspensions at the West Coast ports need to end now."

Gold, who initially sent a public letter to the Obama administration asking for direct involvement in the West Coast port dispute in November 2014, made additional comments on the situation during a televised interview with Fox Business News on Monday, Feb. 16.

“After nine months, it’s time for parties to come to a final agreement,” said Gold. “They need to work out their final issues, get a deal, and move on.”

The port shutdown is estimated to have cost the U.S. economy $2 billion a day. According to Gold, wage issues have been resolved, but disagreement continues about mediation of workplace disputes, as well as other possible unidentified issues. The NRF is not directly involved in any negotiations.

In addition to the retail industry, Gold said other industries such as manufacturing and farming have also been calling for an end to the dispute. Some West Coast port business has already shifted to ports on the East Coast and Gulf Coast of the U.S., and Gold raised another possibility that would take West Coast port business outside of the country.

“We could lose business to the Panama Canal,” said Gold. The Panama Canal is currently undergoing renovations to allow larger vessels to pass through.

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Report: Apple redesigning its retail stores

BY CSA STAFF

Apple is reportedly planning an overhaul of its once ground-breaking retail stores.

When Apple first opened retail stores 13 years ago, it set out to change retailing in everything from the product displays to the wireless point-of-sale devices and its Genius Bar tech support. The approach was innovative and widely successful.

Now, according to an article in the New Yorker, Apple design chief Jonathan Ive is working with Apple retail chief Angela Ahrendts on a revamp of the company's stores. It's not clear when the overhauled stores would make their debuts. As Apple's SVP of design, Ive has emerged as the company's creative soul, continuing an aesthetic tradition set by co-founder Steve Jobs. Ive was responsible for the build and the finish of the iMac, the MacBook, the iPod, the iPhone, the iPad, and the forthcoming Apple Watch.

Ahrendts, who is often credited with turning around the luxury retailer Burberrys, was hired by Apple in May. Ive and Ahrendts will be tasked with making Apple’s stores “more VIP” and better suited for selling the Apple Watch, according to the article.

The details confirm a separate report from earlier this year, which said that Ahrendts is spearheading major physical changes for Apple's retail stores. Some changes, such as new seating areas, are expected to be implemented before the launch of the Apple Watch in April.

Read more here.

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Urban Outfitters takes next step in omnichannel strategy

BY CSA STAFF

Urban Outfitters is taking its omnichannel strategy to the next level by relocating its e-commerce fulfillment center to a new, 1 million square foot building in Pennsylvania.

The retail company plans to relocate its Trenton, S.C., e-commerce fulfillment center to a new building in Gap, Pa. Construction of the fulfillment center in Gap is on schedule to be complete by July.

"Our Trenton workforce has provided key support for our exceptional direct and wholesale growth over the past nine years. We thank them and hope many will decide to stay with the company as we move to Gap, Pa," said Richard A. Hayne, CEO of Urban Outfitters Inc. "As online sales continue to surge, our new facility places us in closer proximity to a large percentage of our direct customers and allows us to service them faster and more efficiently."

The new, highly automated facility will significantly increase fulfillment capacity, supporting strong direct-to-consumer growth for many years to come, the company said. The location of the facility, adjacent to the existing Urban Outfitters retail distribution center, will create increased efficiencies across the supply chain and noticeably improve order delivery time, enabling next day delivery into the important Northeast region, the company said.

Urban Outfitters has seen its e-commerce revenue grow at an annual rate of about 25%. The company has received praise

Urban Outfitters Inc. operates 238 Urban Outfitters stores in the United States, Canada, and Europe, catalogs and websites; 204 Anthropologie Group stores in the United States, Canada and Europe, catalogs and websites; 102 Free People stores in the United States and Canada, catalogs and websites; Free People wholesale, which sells its product to approximately 1,600 specialty stores and select department stores worldwide; and 2 Terrain garden centers and a website.

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