REAL ESTATE

Report: Saks to add luxury items, outlet stores

BY Dan Berthiaume

New York – Saks Fifth Avenue is reportedly planning to both increase the amount of high-end luxury goods it sells and also increase the number of Saks Off 5th outlet stores it operates. According to the Wall Street Journal, Richard Baker, CEO of Canadian department store chain (and new Saks owner) Hudson’s Bay Company wants to overhaul Saks stores by selling more items such as $48,000 Louis Vuitton crocodile handbags.

In addition, Baker plans to spend as much as $1 billion in upgrading Saks stores, with $250 million earmarked for the company’s flagship Fifth Avenue store in New York. Changes to the flagship will include redeveloping the 30,000-sq.-ft. lower level that currently houses a hair salon and storage into retail space, which will double the space dedicated to handbags and also include new duplex displays that cover both the first and second floors.

Baker also plans to more than double the store count of Saks Off 5th outlet stores from the current 71, including 20 stores in Canada. He also wants to increase outlet profitability by placing more lower-priced merchandise, including Lord & Taylor overstock, and increase customer appeal by making the stores less like traditional department stores and more cluttered full of item like competing Nordstrom Rack outlets. Other new plans for Saks include using its e-commerce platform as infrastructure for all Hudson’s Bay, Lord & Taylor and Saks online activities, which would save the company a reported $50 million per year.

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FINANCE

Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage has strong Q1; plans 15 new stores

BY Dan Berthiaume

Lakewood, Colo. — Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage, Inc. had a strong first quarter of fiscal 2014, reporting increases in both net income and net sales. Net income rose 31.6% to $2.9 million from about $2.2 million and net sales grew 25.8% to $120.6 million from $95.8 million.

A $14.6 million increase in sales from new stores and a 10.6%, increase in same-store sales drove Natural Grocers’ net sales growth. Looking ahead, the company plans to open a total 15 stores in fiscal year 2014 and expects to remodel two existing stores.

As of this release, Natural Grocers has signed leases for 10 of the remaining 11 stores it plans to open in fiscal year 2014 for locations in Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Utah, and Washington.

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MARKETING/SOCIAL MEDIA

Shell launches social contest for loyalty members

BY Dan Berthiaume

Houston – Shell has launched “How I FRN,” a contest that invites consumers to submit a photograph or video via Instagram or Twitter that represents the individual’s experience with the Shell Fuel Rewards Network (FRN) loyalty program. Consumers are encouraged to think creatively about how they might be able to demonstrate their experience with and understanding of the program, as Shell will be selecting one weekly winner per week, along with a grand prize winner, first runner-up and second runner-up whose entries best convey the features and benefits of the FRN program.

From Jan. 31 through March 14, FRN members are invited to submit a photograph or video via Instagram or Twitter that represents the individual’s experience with the FRN program. To be eligible for a prize, each entry must be tagged with the official How I FRN Contest hashtag: #HowIFRN, and must also be accompanied by a brief caption describing how the FRN member uses or plans to use the FRN program to save.

"We’re excited to see the creative and cost-effective ways our customers interact with the FRN program," says Jim Perkins, North American marketing alliance manager at Shell. "As we start out the new year Shell knows that saving money is a top priority, and we’re excited to provide the opportunity for drivers to win big just by showing us how they save through the program."

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