STORE SPACES

Report: Samsung hires Apple store designer

BY Dan Berthiaume

San Jose, Calif. – Samsung has reportedly hired a high-level store designer from Apple. According to multiple media reports, the U.S., telecom unit of Samsung recently hired Tim Gudgel, a five-year veteran store designer at Apple, as VP and GM of retail sales operations.

Gudgel also spent six years at the Gehry Partners architecture firm. While at Apple, he was designer on a patent filing related to the curved glass roof of the Apple Store in Manhattan. Samsung does not currently have any free-standing U.S, stores, although it does have some stores-within-a-store at U.S. Best Buy locations. Neither Samsung nor Apple has made any official comment.

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REAL ESTATE

Report: Tesco plans India supermarket entry

BY Dan Berthiaume

Cheshunt, England – British supermarket and general merchandise retailer Tesco plc has reportedly applied to the Indian government for permission to buy a 50% stake in the Indian hypermarket chain Trent Hypermarket Ltd. According to Reuters, Tesco wants to open stores in western India and would become the first foreign retailer to open a supermarket in India.

Tesco would initially invest $100 million. India has long forbid foreign companies from holding a decision-making stake in supermarkets there, but loosened restrictions in late 2012. However, there are still strict laws in place requiring local sourcing of at least 30% of all goods, which is one reason Wal-Mart dissolved a partnership with Indian firm Bharti Enterprises in October 2013 and delayed plans to expand its presence in India.

Tesco and Wal-Mart have both had a small presence in India through minority partnerships with local retail chains for several years and have been lobbying the Indian government to make it easier for foreign firms to invest in supermarket businesses there.

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FINANCE

Chico’s repurchases 6.7 million shares

BY Dan Berthiaume

Fort Myers, Fla. – Chico’s FAS repurchased approximately 6.7 million shares of its common stock, for approximately $125 million, during the fourth quarter of fiscal 2013, completing all but $55 million of its existing share repurchase authorization. The Chico’s board of directors has cancelled the remainder of its March 2013 share repurchase program and approved a new $300 million share repurchase authorization for the company’s common stock.

"We’re pleased that we will have distributed approximately $283 million in cash to shareholders during fiscal 2013, reflecting meaningful year-to-date share repurchases and the increased December 2013 dividend declaration," said Dave Dyer, CEO of Chico’s FAS. “Since the inception of our share repurchase and dividend programs in 2010, we will have distributed approximately $690 million to our shareholders. Both the new authorization and the recent dividend increase underscore the company’s commitment to returning excess cash to shareholders.”

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