OPERATIONS

Report: Penney cutting back on Joe Fresh, Michael Graves and Martha Stewart

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — J.C. Penny will eliminate the jcp menswear brand and reduce the assortments in its Joe Fresh, Michael Graves and Martha Stewart lines, Reuters reported. All four brands were introduced by former CEO Ron Johnson. Penney plans to use the resulting space to emphasize its exclusive private-label brands.

Starting in January, Penney will shrink its Joe Fresh in-store shops and reduce the assortment, the report said, moving the shops away from the front entry to give a more prominent spot to the chain’s own a.n.a and jcp women’s wear collections.

“What we now need is to edit things out that didn’t resonate sufficiently," CEO Mike Ullman told Reuters in an interview.

In candid comments, Ullman said, "We don’t have six or seven years to get our business back. Half of our business has to be brands that we can produce profitably."

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OPERATIONS

Report: MasterCard expanding headquarters; to open tech lab in NYC

BY Staff Writer

New York — MasterCard plans to expand its world headquarters in Purchase, N.Y., suburbs and open a technology lab in Manhattan, the Associated Press reported.

The report said that MasterCard is investing several million dollars to open a new mobile e-commerce technology lab in New York City, which will lead to 122 new research and development and software jobs in Manhattan.

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FINANCE

Ulta Beauty’s net income, sales up in Q3

BY Antoinette Alexander

New York — Ulta Beauty’s net income increased 19.1% to $45.4 million in the third quarter, amid strong sales of prestige cosmetics and skin care and strong online sales.

Sales for the quarter ended Oct. 27 rose 22.4% to $618.8 million. Same-store sales rose 6.8%, including the impact of e-commerce sales.

During the quarter, e-commerce sales grew 74.4%, representing 170 basis points of the total company same-store sales increase.

“[The third quarter] was an excellent quarter for Ulta.com, demonstrating continued momentum on the top line despite tough prior year comparisons and a major site relaunch,” said Mary Dillon, CEO, during the company’s recent quarterly conference call with analysts. “Our limited-time Beauty Breaks!, our sample beauty bags and CRM program all contributed to better-than-expected sales growth.”

The new platform was rolled out over a period of several weeks and was revamped to enhance visibility to its product assortment, highlighting bestsellers and featuring products across all categories. Search capabilities were improved and brands were recognized for greater visibility.

Ulta noted that it is the one of the first retailers to feature responsive web design, a technology that enables a consistent browsing experience regardless of the device being used — a laptop, smartphone or tablet.

Also helping to fuel sales was prestige cosmetics and skin care. Dillon noted that prestige cosmetics and skin care continue to be the strongest categories, while it experienced some softness in nail and fragrance — in line with industry-wide trends.

Dillon, who joined the company in July, said that looking ahead the company will need to find new ways to grow.

“I believe there are significant opportunities ahead for Ulta in areas such as driving higher brand awareness; developing smaller and urban store formats; increasing our digital presence, both online and in store; and growing our capabilities to enable initiatives like localization of assortment,” Dillon told analysts.

As for 2014, the company plans to embark on a number of smaller in-store projects like additional prestige boutiques and reflowing the mass cosmetics program in some of its older stores to make the shopping experience in that category more consistent across the chain.

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