OPERATIONS

PlayNetwork completes audio/video installation for Fifth Ave. Uniqlo

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Redmond, Wash. — PlayNetwork said Thursday it has completed the audio/visual installation at Uniqlo’s new global 89,000-sq.-ft. flagship store on Fifth Ave. in New York City, the retailer’s largest store to date.

The installation features more than 300 LCD video displays and 175 audio speakers, providing a full digital media experience. Custom LED video installations in the glass elevators and storefront windows and LED “tunnel ticker” displays were developed by PlayNetwork in conjunction with partner D3 LED.

Music emanates from speakers hidden from view within store columns as customers ride the escalators. Additionally, to facilitate more efficient installation and maintenance of the video walls, which traditionally require one mount per screen, the PlayNetwork engineering team created a custom, one-piece mount for multiple screens.

“Audio and visual systems are an essential element of our store environment and the innovations featured in our new flagship store illustrate our commitment to quality and the customer experience,” said Kensuke Suwa, director of global marketing for Uniqlo.

Japanese retailer Uniqlo, a subsidiary brand owned by Fast Retailing Co., opened its new global flagship store on Oct. 14. The retailer’s New York 34th Street store will open Oct.21.

PlayNetwork is also installing some of the new audio and video elements for
Uniqlo in Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and Thailand plus flagship locations in
Paris and London.

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OPERATIONS

Barnes & Noble expands BN.com Marketplace

BY Katherine Boccaccio

New York City — Barnes & Noble said Thursday it has expanded its BN.com Marketplace, adding over one million new products to the catalog.

The retailer also announced online third-party partnerships with Wayfair.com, Right Start, UnbeatableSale.com, School Specialty, Abe’s of Maine, Delivery Agent and more.

BN.com Marketplace has introduced five new categories including Home and Gift, Consumer Electronics, Arts and Crafts, Toys and Games and Baby.

“The expansion of BN.com Marketplace is an organic extension of our consumer value proposition,” said John Foley, president of eCommerce, Barnes & Noble. “If shoppers are buying cookbooks from BN.com, it’s natural to offer them cooking supplies at the same time; if shoppers are buying new baby books, it’s natural to offer them baby supplies as well; and so on across all of our categories. In this way, we can offer our valued customers a one-stop shopping destination.”

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Wal-Mart’s Massmart acquisition faces South Africa court appeal

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Cape Town, South Africa — A Thursday report by Bloomberg said that South Africa’s Competition Appeal Court began hearing a government lawsuit filed to compel regulators to review a decision allowing Wal-Mart Stores to acquire 51% interest in Massmart Holdings Ltd.

The Competition Tribunal ruled on May 31 that Wal-Mart could proceed with the deal on condition no jobs are cut for two years and the companies set up a $12.4 million fund to assist local suppliers and manufacturers. The government objected, saying the conditions were inadequate to protect the economy and prevent a surge in imports undermining manufacturing output.

The court challenge is focused on the procedure that was adopted by the Competition Tribunal in making its decision, according to Bloomberg’s report, which cited comments by Heather Irvine, a director at law firm Norton Rose. The retailers provided inadequate information about their product sourcing, meaning “the tribunal was unable to make a proper decision on the effects of the merger and what conditions should be imposed,” Irvine said.

Both retailers are opposing the appeal and the review.

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