FINANCE

Ron Burkle’s Yucaipa Cos. files complaint against Barnes & Noble

BY CSA STAFF

New York City Los Angeles billionaire and business mogul Ron Burkle’s Yucaipa Cos. has filed a complaint in Delaware court against Barnes & Noble, saying the retailer’s shareholder rights plan is unfair and directors have breached fiduciary duties, the Associated Press reported.

Burkle and his Yucaipa Cos. own about 19% of Barnes & Noble’s shares. Burkle sought to boost his stake without triggering the “poison pill” plan, but Barnes & Noble rejected that request in February. He has previously complained in regulatory filings and letters to the company about Barnes & Noble’s shareholder rights plan limiting new stakes by a single investor.

In the complaint, Burkle’s investment firm called the rights plan a “self-dealing scheme” designed to prevent Yucaipa or others from mounting an effective proxy battle. Burkle, who has said he thinks Barnes & Noble shares are undervalued, is seeking greater say in the company’s direction.

Yucaipa is the chain’s second largest shareholder behind Leonard S. Riggio, the company’s chairman, who holds a 29% stake. His brother Steve Riggio served as company CEO until March, when he was replaced by William Lynch. He remains vice chairman.

In the complaint, Yucaipa says the current shareholder rights plan “entrenches the Riggios and the other incumbent directors while depriving outside stockholders of the free exercise of the stockholder franchise.” Yucaipa said it wants changes made to the shareholder rights plan to allow higher stakes by outside investors, as well as damages and expenses yet to be determined.

The complaint was filed Wednesday in the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware.

In a statement, Barnes & Noble’s board of directors called the complaint a “meritless lawsuit to advance [Burkle’s] own self-serving agenda.”

The statement said the shareholder rights plan was adopted last November in response to a “rapid accumulation of a significant portion of Barnes & Noble’s outstanding common stock, and is intended to protect our shareholders from actions that are inconsistent with their best interests.”

The company said it plans to submit the plan for shareholder ratification within a year of adoption.

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CSA Editor’s Pick: Levi’s London flagship

BY Marianne Wilson

Levi’s has relaunched its London flagship on Regent Street after a massive facelift that has completely transformed the interior. The refurbished two-level, 8,500-sq.-ft. store aims to tell the story of the craft that goes into Levi’s denim making. The store combines authenticity, craftsmanship and storytelling to deliver a complete brand experience — one that engages customers even as it helps them with the jean-buying experience. All that aside, it’s a pretty cool store.

With a factory-inspired architectural design, the redone Levi’s takes customers on a journey through the brand’s evolution and the history of denim itself. All of the featured materials, which include exposed brick, raw steel, concrete, wood and glass, in some way connect with the essence of the workplace theme.

From the street, customers enter a transition space with reclaimed brick walls that is home to an ever-changing gallery that showcases everything from exclusive product collaborations to art exhibitions. The area works as a bridge between the youthful creativity and the contemporary scene and the artisan workplace.

Customers then move through two sets of huge factory doors to the main-level selling space, home to the latest collections. The space has a clean and industrial look and feel, with furniture and fixtures that are simple, but flexible enough to allow for an ever-changing environment.

A contemporary staircase leads down to the basement level. Backlit glass risers with Levi’s “XX” laser are cut into each tread. Alongside the stairwell is a gallery wall exhibit with a design inspired by glass-fronted storage cabinets. Among the items on display: an original 201 Jean from the 1920s (on loan from Levi’s archives) encased in glass and set against a backdrop of tailor’s patterns. The display speaks volumes about the brand’s longevity and also acts as a visual signpost for the adjacent Levi’s Vintage Clothing collection.

The basement is home to the 501 Jeans warehouse, separated from the rest of the store by floor to ceiling glaze and a mirrored back wall. Some 22 different washes are on display.

Close by is the “Inspection Room,” which is split into zones that allow customers to shop either by fit or finish. To ease the process, key fits and finishes are displayed on tailor’s forms and in illuminated inspection cabinets. A simple-to-follow number and letter navigation system takes customers to stock held in adjacent wall bays.

Among the store’s points of distinction are the fitting rooms, crafted with duck canvas that recalls the original canvas used by Levi Strauss in the 19th century. The doors are scaled versions of the heavyweight industrial doors found at the store entrance. An adjacent display of vintage weaver’s equipment pays homage to the brand’s craft and roots.

Levi’s was designed by Checkland Kindleysides, Cossington, Leicestershire (U.K).

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Costco COO to retire in June

BY CSA STAFF

ISSAQUAH, Wash. Costco Wholesale has announced the retirement of Dick DiCerchio as its senior EVP and COO, effective June 4.

Jim Sinegal, Costco’s CEO, stated: “Dick has made invaluable contributions to the growth of our company, having spent 27 years in all facets of our operations, culminating with his positions as senior EVP and a member of the board of directors. Under his leadership, the company has trained and developed a broad and deep team of executives across the globe. Jeff Brotman, I, our board of directors, and our employees are deeply grateful to Dick for all his contributions to our success and wish him a healthy and productive retirement.”

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