FINANCE

Report: J.C. Penney hires Blackstone to raise some $1 billion

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — J.C. Penney Co. has hired the Blackstone Group explore how best to position the firm financially and help it raise cash, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The company is reportedly seeking $1 billion in cash, according to the Wall Street Journal, which added that options could include selling a minority stake. Penney already has been in contact with several private equity firms about a potential investment, according to the report.

A Penney spokeswoman said in the article that the company has hired outside advisors over the last several for "expertise about how to best position the company from a financial standpoint during the transformation.”

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OPERATIONS

Guess names SVP, general merchandise manager

BY Staff Writer

Los Angeles — Guess, Inc. has appointed Hillary Super as SVP, general merchandise manager for Guess, reporting to Paul Marciano, co-founder and CEO of Guess.

In this role, Hillary will be responsible for product categories for Guess as the lead merchant for the company, and she will also be a key member of the Guess senior management team. Previously, Hillary spent six years in senior merchant roles at American Eagle and four years at Gap where she oversaw multiple brands and product categories.

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FINANCE

Retail sales fall 0.4% in March

BY Marianne Wilson

New York – U.S. retail sales fell 0.4% in March, the biggest decrease in nine months, amid a slowdown in hiring and higher taxes. Excluding sales of autos, gas and building materials, core sales dropped 0.2% in March, following a 0.3% increase in January.

“The fall off in spending is no surprise,” said NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz. “A colder-than-usual winter, an anemic employment picture and delays in tax refunds impacted consumer spending across the board in March. While we remain optimistic that retail sales will grow modestly this year, it seems like the economy is off to a shaky start as we enter the second quarter. Improving housing prices and lower gas prices may help to offset the toll of increased taxes and sequester.”

Seven of 13 major categories tracked by the Commerce Department showed declines in March, led by a 1.2% decrease at general merchandise stores and a 1.6% drop at electronics stores. Spending was up, however, in some segments. Furniture and home furnishing stores’ sales increased 0.9%. At clothing and clothing accessories stores, sales increased 0.1%.

On Thursday, 15 major retailers released same-store sales results for March. Many of the companies said unseasonably cold weather and early Easter cut into spring spending. According to the International Council of Shopping Centers, same-store sales rose 1.6% in March.

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