FINANCE

rue 21’s reorganization plan gets court OK

BY Marianne Wilson

rue21 has cleared a significant hurdle in its effort to move forward after declaring bankruptcy.

The teen apparel retailer announced that the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania confirmed the company's plan of reorganization, which clears the way for rue21 to emerge from the bankruptcy process after less than four months. Rue 21 filed for Chapter 11 protection in May 2017, listing $307 million in pre-petition assets. It filed a month after it said it would close 400 stores.

"We are very pleased to have moved through the restructuring process in a relatively short period," said Melanie Cox, CEO of rue21. "With the support of our lenders, our landlords, all of our business partners and the hard work of our team, the company has performed consistently well ahead of its liquidity plan, and exceeded its second quarter target for Adjusted EBITDA by over 200%."

The retailer expects its reorganization to become effective by September 15, 2017, once all closing conditions have been met.

Rue 21 currently operates 758 stores in 45 states in shopping malls, outlets and strip center.

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News

Walmart pledges up to $30 million in hurricane relief, Target raises commitment

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Walmart is stepping up its efforts to help those impacted by the hurricanes.

The discount giant announced that it will donate up to $10 million in additional support for 2017 hurricane relief efforts in the United States, a move that will bring Walmart’s total commitment to hurricane relief efforts this year to $30 million. This additional support comes on the heels of donations already provided in response to Hurricane Harvey that hit the Gulf region less than three weeks ago.

To raise funds for those affected by the devastating storms and flooding hitting the United States, Walmart is launching a new customer campaign with the American Red Cross. Walmart will match customer donations two-to-one with cash and product donations of up to $10 million. These donations will provide shelter, food, comfort and emergency assistance to those impacted by hurricanes in 2017.

The discounter is accepting donations at Walmart and Sam’s Clubs stores, online and via text through September 16, 2017. Donations will be distributed to the areas of greatest need throughout the country during this year’s hurricane season, according to Walmart.

In addition, Walmart has shipped more than 1,700 truckloads of emergency merchandise and water to customers in need. This includes cleaning supplies, pet food, batteries, diapers, baby formula, hand sanitizer, first aid supplies, fans, generators, candles, flashlights, propane, rainwear, tarps, gas cans, and related items.

Walmart and Sam's Club pharmacies will also provide prescriptions and immunizations during and after the emergency, including working with displaced patients or those who have previously received prescriptions from another pharmacy.

The discounter is also taking steps to ensure the safety of its associates in affected areas. In addition to reinforcing emergency procedures and what to do during and after the storm among store and club location management teams, Walmart is supporting affected associates with access to earned-wage and disaster-support assistance, support centers, hot meals and wellness checks. Through Walmart’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC), which tracks storm impacts and supports associates needs and well-being, the chain will also ship emergency supplies to multiple shelter operations.

Meanwhile, Walmart is activating emergency support teams dedicated to stores and club locations, including subject-matter experts in logistics and emergency management to assist local emergency operations centers.

Target is also upping its commitment to support communities impacted by Hurricane Irma, starting with a pledge of up to $1 million in cash and in-kind donations. This is in addition to the $3.5 million that the company already committed last week for Hurricane Harvey relief.

Similar to efforts it made for Hurricane Harvey, the discounter will continue to match employee donations dollar-for-dollar up to $1 million. Target team members will have the option to donate to Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma or both relief funds.

Donations will be shared among several national, local and international community organizations that focus on community relief, including the American Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, The Salvation Army, UNICEF and Save The Children.

Meanwhile, when its distribution facilities reopen later this week, Target’s supply chain teams will immediately begin pushing products to impacted Target stores, including some trailers that were pre-loaded to distribute before the hurricane hit, according to the company.

Target will also enable team members employed at stores that are currently closed to pick up shifts at neighboring Target stores. The company will also pay eligible team members while locations are closed.

To prepare for the storm, the chain closed more than 120 stores and four distribution facilities in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.

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DESIGN/CONSTRUCTION

Nordstrom debuts service-focused store with no inventory

BY Marianne Wilson

As retailers consider how to best use their physical spaces in a digital world, Nordstrom is going "local," debuting a small-format retail concept that offers all sorts of personal services, but has no dedicated inventory.

The department store giant will unveil Nordstrom Local on Oct. 3, in West Hollywood, Calif. With a 3,000-sq.-ft. footprint, the new format is much smaller than an average 140,000-sq.ft. Nordstrom. It will offer such services as on-site tailoring, manicures, buy-online-pick-up in store, and easy returns. It will even boast a beverage bar.

In addition, customers will be able to consult with “personal stylists,” making an appointment online, over the phone or in person to take advantage of the free service. Along with giving styling tips, the associates can transfer requested merchandise from Nordstrom stores (or its website) to Nordstrom Local for shoppers.The rooms surround a central meeting space where customers can sit and chat with a stylist.

"As the retail landscape continues to transform at an unprecedented pace, the one thing we know that remains constant is that customers continue to value great service, speed and convenience," said Shea Jensen, Nordstrom senior VP of customer experience who led the Nordstrom Local initiative. "We know there are more and more demands on a customer's time and we wanted to offer our best services in a convenient location to meet their shopping needs. Finding new ways to engage with customers on their terms is more important to us now than ever."

The full list of services available at Nordstrom Local includes:

• Personal stylists;

• Alterations, with on-site tailors available;

• Manicure services;

• Same-day delivery for completed alterations or purchases, with items ordered by 2 p.m. delivered directly to a customer's home on the same day;

• Buy online, pick-up in store, with items ordered before 2 p.m. available for pick-up on the same day;

• Curbside pickup for items that are altered or for buy online, pick-up in-store orders;

• Customers can meet a Trunk Club Stylist, or pick up and/or return a trunk. On-site tailors will help customers select the right fabrics or create a Trunk Club Custom garment that suits their needs; and

• Refreshments, with a full-beverage menu that includes beer, wine, juices and coffee.

In addition, Nordstrom Local will debut "Style Boards,” is a new tool that allows salespeople and personal stylists to create digital boards filled with personalized fashion recommendations, which customers can view on their phone and purchase directly through Nordstrom.com. Customers can get the advice of a salesperson or personal stylist by having a conversation with them through the app.

Nordstrom Local is located at 8401 Melrose Place, on the corner of Melrose Place and Melrose.

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