REAL ESTATE

REI announces two new store openings for spring 2015

BY Marianne Wilson

Seattle — REI will set up shop in two new locations next spring. The national outdoor retailer will open in Princeton, New Jersey. REI is also extending its presence in the Atlanta area, with a 24,000-sq.-ft. store in Alpharetta, Georgia.

REI’s 23,000-sq.-ft. store in Princeton will be located at Mercer Mall.

"These two new locations give us the unique opportunity to connect our offerings to more customers and members in the greater Atlanta, Philadelphia, New Jersey and New York areas,” said Greg Medlyn, REI’s divisional VP of retail.
nationwide.

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REAL ESTATE

Staples expanding home/office automation platform; 500 store rollout planned

BY Marianne Wilson

Framingham, Mass. — Staples is expanding its home and office automation platform, Staples Connect, including a rollout to 500 stores, new pricing for the Staples Connect Hub, and collaborations with Microsoft, Jawbone, and D-Link. Staples is also the first retailer to announce the integration of wearable technology to its platform.

Staples Connect was introduced in the fall of 2013 in select stores and online as a home and office automation platform, putting the company in competition with Google’s Nest, Lowe’s Iris system and Home Depot’s new Wink platform arriving in stores July 7. Staples Connect system includes an app developed by Zonoff, a universal hub from Linksys and other devices that can talk to one another to control lighting, climate control and safety systems in a home or a business.

"Staples Connect offers the best-in-class home and office automation solution, with the widest array of product and services from the most trusted brands," said Mike Edwards, Staples executive VP of merchandising. “Our in-store expansion shows that Staples is committed to providing our customers the newest tech offerings and innovations, like Staples Connect, so they can make more happen in their business and at home."

The in-store displays being added to 500 locations will help call greater attention to a product assortment that previously was available online and via in-store kiosks and featured items from 35 hardware partners.

The company has also added wearable technology products to its assortment such as smart watches, fitness trackers and cameras from brands such as Samsung, Polar and Jawbone.

To get shoppers started with the automation platform, Staples has reduced the price of the Hub from the launch price of $99 and now offers two models. The original model from Linksys has been reduced to $49.99 and a new hub manufactured by D-Link will sell for $79.99. The D-Link hub offers new capabilities such as support for ZigBee and Bluetooth Low Energy.

"The Connected Home Hub is a powerful piece of networking hardware working seamlessly with the Staples Connect app for a stellar user experience enabling control over a wide variety of devices." said Albert Ling, executive VP of sales and marketing at D-Link Systems.

Powered by software from smart home technology company Zonoff, Staples Connect has the most supported App platforms in the industry, according to Staples. With apps currently available on native iPad, iPhone and Android and web browsers via HTML5, the Staples Connect App is now also available for Windows 8 and will soon be available on Samsung Smart TV’s.

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Apple plans six new China stores

BY Dan Berthiaume

Cupertino, Calif. – Apple Inc. is planning to open six new stores in China, judging by advertisements for store managers the company has posted on its Chinese website, Bloomberg reported. The company is seeking store managers for units the Chinese cities of Tianjin, Chongqing, Wuxi, Zhengzhou, Shenyang, and Hangzhou, none of which currently has an Apple-owned retail outlet.

Apple currently operates 13 corporate-owned stores in China, including 10 on the mainland and three in Hong Kong. The company previously said it would operate 22 stores in the China region by 2015. Apple’s site does not provide an opening date for any of the new stores and the company has not made any other public comment about opening new stores in China.

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