Ten “Healthiest” Retailers
For the second consecutive year,
The study, by Consensus Advisors, a Boston-based boutique investment firm specializing in retail, tracked four components over a five-year period: sales growth, asset utilization, pricing power and the strength of the company’s balance sheet. It examined various factors within each individual component, including gross margin volatility, sales volatility, growth momentum and inventory productivity.
Overall Top 10
Here are the retailers that had the healthiest financial rankings, according to Consensus Advisors: 1. Amazon.com 2. Aeropostale 3. Urban Outfitters 4. CVS/pharmacy 5. Walmart 6. Bed Bath & Beyond 7. Coach 8. Buckle 9. Guess 10. lululemon athletica
The ratings are focused on long-term business-building competency—with an emphasis on the long term. Retail pundits and executives have expressed growing frustration that too much emphasis is placed on same-store sales—by nature, a short-term metric—as a measure of a chain’s overall health. Consensus Advisors agrees and offers its ratings to provide context to same-store sales data on nearly 160 publicly traded U.S. retailers. According to the firm, comp-store sales suffer from calendar shifts and prior-period sensitivity, and can mask unhealthy margins, inventory levels and advertising spend, and lack balance sheet/leverage context.
“In light of the significant trauma to the economy over the past 18 months, it is more important than ever to study retailer health comprehensively rather than relying on potentially misleading comp-store sales growth statistics,” said Doug Stebbins, managing director, Consensus Advisors.
The retailers that topped the overall list run the gamut in size, and range from the nation’s largest retailer to a specialty niche-apparel upstart.
“Our highest rated company, Amazon.com , has exploited the increasing availability of broadband Internet and mobile technology to build a fast-growing and highly efficient retailing super-power,” said Michael O’Hara, CEO of Consensus Advisors. “Other financially strong businesses in the RHR Top Ten, like Aeropostale, Coach, Guess and Lululemon, have used the exclusivity of their increasingly powerful, vertically integrated brands to navigate the macroeconomic trauma of the last 18 months by taking market share from their competitors, maintaining margins and inventory turns, and avoiding debt.”
Five ways to reduce risk and increase efficiencies with the right service provider
By Monte Boyer, Monte.A.Boyer@jci.com
For more than two years now, retail facility managers have been hunkering down; deferring maintenance and postponing facility upgrades until the economy shows signs of improvement. Although "waiting for the dust to settle" is an understandable strategy for survival, it is not without risk. Dollars deferred today may pale in comparison to the ultimate cost of postponed maintenance. Equipment that hasn’t been properly serviced can become increasingly inefficient, unreliable or — even worse — prematurely fail.
Retail facility managers can reduce that risk, and at the same time increase efficiencies, by partnering with the right service provider. A good HVAC partner can help facility managers overcome some of the challenges posed by today’s economic environment through consolidation of efforts across both facilities and services, and by creating operational and energy efficiencies.
As a facility manager, here’s how you can reduce risk and increase efficiencies with the right service provider:
1. Select a vendor with the largest reach possible
Do yourself a favor; reduce your dependence on multiple, local vendors to perform maintenance. Instead, select a vendor that partners with you across your portfolio — preferably someone with national capabilities. Whether you’re responsible for eight facilities or 8,000, you can drive down costs through consolidation to one vendor that can meet all your needs. They’re out there. Some national service providers have thousands of technicians in place across the country. Service providers that are backed by a national or global infrastructure offer:
- Quality control: By working with a national vendor, you can eliminate the huge variations in quality that are inevitable when contracting for service with a variety of local vendors.
- Efficiency: Consolidation streamlines the maintenance process. Instead of dispatching calls, statusing issues and reviewing invoices of multiple vendors, one call to a single point of contact is all that is required. With the time saved, you and your staff can turn your attention to revenue-generating activities.
- Reliability: Service calls can’t always wait. Larger service providers are available 24/7/365.
2. Select a vendor with single-source accountability
Not only should you select a vendor that can execute nationally, choose one that delivers expertise across multiple services. Here’s where the efficiencies grow exponentially. Top-tier service providers offer expertise in everything from HVAC, janitorial, lighting, refrigeration, fire and safety to energy efficiency and sustainability; a suite of expert services managed by a single point of contact. One call ensures consistent performance, value and responsive service across all sites.
3. Select a self-performing vendor
Avoid working with a vendor who will manage contractors but outsource the work. Instead, partner with a provider whose employees actually perform the facility services. Self-performing providers make you their only priority. They take ownership of the work. And with a self-performing vendor, you can avoid subcontractor markups. With a national HVAC consolidator, you may have passed along the headache of managing multiple HVAC providers but you have not eliminated it.
4. Select a single-source provider to increase operational efficiency and effectiveness
Choose one provider that can see the big picture. If you currently work with 15 different HVAC vendors, and ask them to prioritize equipment replacement, you’ll get 15 different perspectives. Conversely, a single-source provider will consider all equipment from all facilities when identifying critical needs and setting priorities. By working with one point of contact who has a greater view of your portfolio, you can be confident that priority is given to issues most critical to your business. Strategic investments made today when costs are lower can provide your organization with a competitive cost advantage for many years.
5. Select a single-source provider to increase energy efficiency
Partner with a provider that can show you how to increase energy efficiency. The key will be getting access to facility data that’s relevant, meaningful and actionable — which the right service provider can deliver. Today’s most advanced technologies allow you monitor building performance in real time; identifying trends within buildings and across portfolios, spotting areas of concern and flagging underperformers. Some commercial control systems actually monitor themselves and send notifications when there’s a noteworthy event or when it’s time for a service call.
When priorities do call for the replacement of equipment, the right providers make sure you’re choosing the most energy-efficient solutions. Ideally, they even help to identify ways to leverage federally- or utility-sponsored rebate programs.
The right service provider
Choosing the right service provider requires careful consideration. Take the time to identify vendors who have national reach and are single-source, self-performing providers with demonstrated expertise in energy and operational efficiency. By partnering with a top-tier vendor, retail facility managers can reduce risk, increase efficiency and overcome some of the challenges posed by today’s economic environment.
Monte Boyer is VP and general manager, Johnson Controls National Service. Johnson Controls is an OEM supplier with over 125 years of experience in the HVAC industry. With more than 150 local branches throughout the United States and Canada, Johnson Controls National Service provides retail customers with innovative solutions and an expertise in HVAC, refrigeration, security and fire safety, as well as lighting applications. For additional information on Johnson Controls National Service visit www.johnsoncontrols.com or contact Monte at Monte.A.Boyer@jci.com.
Staples puts Kindle on Christmas list
Beginning this fall, Staples will offer several variants of Amazon.com’s popular Kindle wireless ereader device in its nearly 1,600 U.S. stores, the company announced Tuesday. Staples will offer a base model Kindle for $139, the Kindle 3G for $189 and the large-screen Kindle DX for $379.
“As part of our efforts to offer customers a wide range of top technology products and services at amazing values, the new Kindle is a natural fit,” said Jevin Eagle, Staples EVP merchandising and marketing.
Staples is the first office superstore to offer the Kindle, however, Target became the first conventional retailer to stock the product when Kindle endcap displays hit its stores several months ago.
The Kindle is Amazon’s best-selling, most-wished-for and most-gifted product for two years running. Although, it is unclear how much demand remains for the device after such strong sales, Staples has secured distribution of the compelling item just in time for what promises to be a challenging holiday season. Kindle promises to bring some needed energy to the office products retailer with interactive displays that allow customers to experience the product before they buy and to learn more about the product. Plans also call for Staples to offer a full assortment of Kindle accessories.