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SUPPLY CHAIN

Online giant expands its supply network in New Jersey

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Amazon’s distribution fleet is once again bolstering its breadth.

The online giant plans to open three additional fulfillment centers in New Jersey. The new sites in Cranbury Township, Edison and Logan Township, a move that will create more than 2,500 new, full-time jobs.

Amazon employees at the more than 900,000-sq.-ft. fulfillment center in Cranbury Township and the one-million-sq.-ft. warehouse in Logan Township will pick, pack and ship larger customer items such as music equipment, sports gear, and patio furniture. The 900,000-sq.-ft. fulfillment center in Edison will handle smaller customer items, such as books, toys and kitchenware.

“We are excited to continue growing by creating an additional 2,500 full-time roles at new fulfillment centers across the state,” said Akash Chauhan, Amazon’s VP of North American operations.

Since Amazon launched operations in New Jersey in 2012, the company has grown its fulfillment workforce in the state to 13,000-plus full-time employees across seven existing facilities in Avenel, Carteret, Florence, Logan Township and Robbinsville, the company said.

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bebe
FINANCE

Fashion retailer closing all stores

BY Marianne Wilson

It’s curtain time for Bebe Stores — or at least its brick-and-mortar operations.

The struggling women’s apparel retailer will close all its stores by the end of May, according to a filing on Friday with the Securities and Exchange Commission, and also liquidate all merchandise and fixtures in the stores. Bebe had previously said it would close 21 stores, or 12% of its portfolio, to avoid filing Chapter 11. (Bebe had 180 retail stores as of Dec. 31, 2016.)

The retailer expects to take an impairment charge of approximately $20 million, net of deferred rent and other credits, as a result of closing the remainder of its stores. The charge will be recorded in the third and fourth quarters of this year.

In March, Bebe hired B. Riley & Co. as its financial advisor to explore strategic alternatives. Since then, there has been speculation that the chain would move to a Web-only model for its business. Bebe did not reveal any details in the filing on Friday regarding its future plans.

Increased competition from Amazon and fast-fashion retailers like H&M has challenged more traditional apparel retailers, particularly those targeting young women. Earlier this year, The Limited and The Wet Seal closed all their stores. Most recently, Rue 21 said it would shutter 400 locations.

In addition to its stores in the United States, Puerto Rico and Canada, Bebe distributes and sells Bebe-branded product in approximately 75 doors through licensees in more than 21 countries.

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ups
SUPPLY CHAIN

UPS uses beacons to quell shipping errors

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

UPS is taking steps to improve order accuracy.

A new program called Preload Smart Scan notifies workers if they have placed an item in the wrong delivery vehicle. Historically, these snafus forced drivers to travel miles out of their way to correct the mistakes.

Preload Smart Scan uses smart technology to avoid this issue. Specifically, the program comprises Bluetooth-enabled beacons that communicate with package-scanning devices worn by UPS employees as they load packages onto vehicles. The scanners, which read package labels, are programed to know where a package belongs in a specific vehicle.

The beacons send signals that are unique to certain vehicles and their position within the vehicle. The scanners detect those signals. If a package enters the wrong car or truck, the scanner will notify the loader of the error.

“This is an important step toward improving accuracy in our operation,” said John Dodero, UPS VP of industrial engineering. “It raises the level of service we provide to our customers. It also makes us more efficient and generates valuable cost savings.”

UPS beacons will be in 301 U.S. locations this year, reaching a total of 28% of U.S. facilities, and 47% of U.S. package cars. UPS also plans to expand the initiative to facilities internationally, according to the company.

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