regency
REAL ESTATE

Racine advances $16 million mall rescue plan

BY Al Urbanski

Trusted national news sources such as the Wall Street Journal and New York Times continue to augur the fall the mall, but many American towns won’t give them up without a fight.

One such is Racine, Wisconsin, whose City Plan Commission advanced a scheme to revitalize the failing Regency Mall by forming a tax increment district (TID) around the 134-acre site that includes out-lots housing Target, Home Depot, Toys R Us, and the High Ridge Center.

The TID designation would have a 27-year life that will involve municipal expenditures of an estimated $15.7 million – $13.1 million of which will be allocated to development incentives, according to the local Journal Times.

A report delivered by Racine city staff at a recent Commission hearing found a 60% vacancy rate at Regency, expected Kmart to close soon, and saw more than half of the stores in the TID zone in “immediate need of rehabilitation.”

The nearly 700,000-sq.-ft., Hull Property Group mall is the fifth largest in Wisconsin and includes tenants such as Burlington Coat Factory, The Children’s Place, Party City, Kay Jewelers, Foot Locker, Chuck E. Cheese’s, and Applebee’s.

If the plan is passed in a vote of the Racine City Council next month, Regency will join the state’s top four malls in owning a TID designation.


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dollarama
FINANCE

Discount chain reported a Q4 profit — and plans for expansion

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Dollarama ended the year with a strong fourth quarter, an increase it credits to higher customer spending.

For the fourth quarter ended January 29, 2017, the Canadian discount retailer’s sales increased by 11.5% to $854.5 million. The chain’s gross margin was 41.4% of sales, compared to 40.8% of sales.

Comparable store sales grew 5.8% — this was on top of 7.9% growth for the same period last year. The chain also opened 26 net new stores during the fourth quarter of Fiscal 2017, compared to 25 net new stores during the corresponding period of the previous fiscal year.

For the year, sales increased by 11.8% to $2,963.2 million, and gross margin was 39.2% of sales, compared to 39.0% of sales.

Comparable store sales grew 5.8%, above 7.3% growth the previous year. During the year, there was a 1.9% decrease in the number of transactions, however there was a 7.8% increase in the average transaction size. The company opened 65 net new stores during fiscal 2017.

“Our financial and operating results for Fiscal 2017 reflect the strength of our business strategy and our execution,” said Neil Rossy, president and CEO.

“We realized a particularly strong fourth quarter with solid comparable store sales reflecting, in part, the continued customer appeal of our product offering, with gross margin also ahead of guidance,” he stated. “Thanks to outstanding execution by our operational and real estate teams, we opened 26 net new stores during our busiest quarter. Also, following a review of the market potential for Dollarama stores across Canada, we have revised our long-term target from 1,400 to 1,700 stores. This provides Dollarama with several years of additional footprint growth.”

Dollarama’s new 500,000 square foot warehouse in the Lachine borough of Montreal, Québec will support this expansion. The new facility has added approximately 40% more warehousing capacity, and will “accommodate the company’s future growth as it continues to expand its store network,” according to the chain.

Meanwhile, based on positive results of its year-long credit card pilot program, the chain plans to accept credit cards as a payment method in all stores across Canada in the second quarter of fiscal 2018.

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JJill_Exterior
FINANCE

J.Jill ends Q4 with a profit, building momentum for 2017

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Ending its fiscal year with a strong fourth quarter has helped J.Jill hit year-over-year earnings growth for 20 consecutive quarters.

For the quarter ended January 28, 2017, the retailer’s total net sales increased by 14.8% to $166.9 million, up from $145.4 million in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2015. Gross profit increased to $105.5 million, up from $91.4 million in the same period last year. As a percentage of total net sales, gross profit was 63.2% compared to 62.9% in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2015.

The women’s specialty chain’s total company comparable sales, which includes comparable store sales and direct-to-consumer comparable sales, increased by 10.8%. For direct to consumer specifically, net sales represented 48.8% of total net sales, up from 46.1% in the fourth quarter 2015.

"We are very pleased with our fourth quarter performance, which helped drive our strong fiscal 2016 results,” said Paula Bennett, president and CEO of J.Jill.

“We have now delivered positive total company comparable sales in 18 of the last 20 quarters, and year-over-year earnings growth for 20 consecutive quarters,” she added. “Our 10.8% total company comparable sales growth for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2016 demonstrates our ability to delight our customers with the product assortment and omnichannel shopping experience that builds loyalty for our brand.”

For fiscal 2016, total net sales increased by 13.7% to $639.1 million, up from $562.0 million in pro forma fiscal 2015. Gross profit increased to $427.9 million from $373.2 million in pro forma fiscal 2015. As a percentage of total net sales, gross profit was 67.0% compared to 66.4% in pro forma fiscal 2015.

Total company comparable sales, which includes comparable store sales and direct to consumer comparable sales, increased by 11.2%, and direct-to-consumer net sales represents 43.2% of fiscal 2016 net sales, up from 39.8% in pro forma fiscal 2015.

The company expects to maintain this momentum throughout the first quarter of fiscal 2017, with total comparable sales expected to increase in the high single digits.

For the full 2017 fiscal year, on a 52-week basis, we expect total comparable sales to increase in the high single digits.

“With our proven formula of data-driven decision making, we believe that we have the right strategies in place to grow profitably, and we plan to continue the momentum that we achieved in 2016 into 2017, and beyond,” Bennett, said.

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