Report: Boxed to create robotics-run warehouse
While some industry observers fear that robots will replace retail workers, Boxed is embracing the technology.
The online retailer, which sells consumer packaged goods in bulk, announced on Thursday, April 27, that it will completely automate its fulfillment center in Union, New Jersey, with robotics — a move that will contribute to driving reliable profits, according to Business Insider.
Boxed’s facility will feature a three-story, 80-ft.-long command module that will handle all of the operations typically performed by human hands, according to the report.
Boxed’s CEO Chieh Huang told Business Insider, “robots are less expensive to ‘hire,’ they don't take sick days, and in a three-story fulfillment center, they don't have any safety risks the way people do.”
But Huang isn’t turning his back on his employees. Existing associates — many who hold temp positions — will be retrained to perform new tasks, including servicing conveyor belts, troubleshooting software, or customer service. These associates will also receive increase their pay by an average of 13%, the report said.
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Party goods retailer considering sale
Is Party City exploring a return to private ownership?
The retailer is considering a sale after being approached by a private equity firm about a leveraged buyout, Reuters reported. Buyout firm Thomas H. Lee Partners LP, which owns 55% of Party City, took the company public in 2015.
Party City’s retail operations include over 900 specialty retail party supply stores (including approximately 150 franchise stores) throughout North America operating under the names Party City and Halloween City, and e-commerce websites. It has recently been buying back its franchised locations.
In January, Party City acquired 18 franchise stores in Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida. And in March, it acquired 18 franchise stores in North Carolina and South Carolina.
“Acquiring franchise stores over time is an integral component of our strategy to invest in growth opportunities at attractive multiples of earnings,” CEO James M. Harrison said in a statement in January. “This acquisition gives the company total ownership of the Louisiana and Alabama markets, creating an opportunity to open additional company-owned stores over time and strengthen the brand integrity of these locations, improving the experience for our customers.”
Free People to cap off re-made Princeton center
Madison Marquette’s transformation of the MarketFair center in West Windsor, New Jersey, will be complete with next week’s opening of the first Free People store in the Princeton area.
Free People has become a sought-after retail brand known for bringing new creative flair to women’s apparel retailing.
The long-time anchor of the 242,000 center on busy Route 1 built in 1987 was a full-size Barnes & Noble on its southern end. The developer is moving the bookstore to a smaller 28,041-sq.-ft. flagship location on the northern end and has filled the vacated space with Seasons 52, Bahama Breeze, and Eastern Mountain Sports.
“MarketFair’s upscale demographics, strong trade area draw, and dynamic positioning in the New Jersey market will provide Free People with vibrant retail traffic,” said Robyn Marano, marketing VP of Madison Marquette.