FINANCE

Tough going for three specialty retailers

BY Marianne Wilson

L Brands, The Cato Corp., and The Buckle reported decreases in same-store sales, although one still managed to sound an upbeat note about its second quarter.

L Brands, parent company of Victoria's Secret, reported net sales of $767.7 million for the four weeks ended July 29, 2017, down from $777 in the year-ago period. Total same-store sales fell 7%. Same-store sales fell 10% at Victoria’s Secret and rose 1% t at Bath & Body Works. The retailer said its decision to exit the swim and apparel categories had a negative impact of about 4 percentage points and 5 percentage points to total company and Victoria’s Secret comparable sales, respectively.

L Brands said it expects second-quarter profit at the high end of its previous forecast range of 40 cents to 45 cents per share.

L Brands, through Victoria’s Secret, PINK, Bath & Body Works, La Senza and Henri Bendel, is an international company. The company operates 3,077 company-owned specialty stores in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Greater China

The Cato Corporation reported sales of $56.1 million for July, down 8% from the year-ago period. Same-store sales for the month were down 9% to the prior year.

Sales for the second quarter ended July 29, 2017 fell 13% to $205 million. Second quarter same-store sales were down 14% to prior year.

"Our negative sales trends persisted in July and the decline in sales continues to put severe pressure on merchandise margins and profitability," commented John Cato, chairman, president, and CEO.

We expect a loss for the second quarter and full year earnings to be significantly below last year.

The Cato Corporation operated 1,374 stores in 33 states, compared to 1,373 stores in 33 states as of July 30, 2016.

At The Buckle, same-store sales in July decreased 8.4%. Net sales decreased 9%.

Comparable store net sales for the 13-week second quarter ended July 29, 2017 decreased 7.7%. Net sales for the quarter fell 7.8% to $195.7.

The Buckle currently operates 463 retail stores in 44 states, which includes the opening of one new store during fiscal July in Sparks, Nevada.

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ECOMMERCE

Job-seekers out in full force for online giant’s multi-state job fair

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Thousands nationwide turned out Wednesday for the chance to join Amazon’s growing workforce.

The online giant hosted a multi-state job fair on Aug. 2, focused on hiring full-time and part-time associates for positions across nearly a dozen of its U.S.-based warehouses. The event had such a massive turnout that Amazon said it received "a record-breaking 20,000 applications,” according to CNBC. This is almost half of the 50,000 roles the company says it has available across its fulfillment network.

The event, called Amazon Job Day, invited candidates to visit one of 10 fulfillment centers in Maryland, Tennessee, Ohio, Massachusetts, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Washington, New Jersey, Illinois and Indiana. Using an online portal, prospects indicated whether they were interested in full-time or part-time employment, and which fulfillment center they preferred working in.

In addition to participating in on-site interviews, candidates also took tours of the facility, learned about the technology used throughout the fulfillment network, and attended information sessions.

Full-time job seekers applied for positions picking, packing and shipping customer orders from its fulfillment centers. Candidates also hoped to snag supporting and managerial roles within Amazon’s facilities, including human resources managers, IT specialists, and operations leaders, among other positions.

The online retailer also plans on filling more than 10,000 part-time jobs at its sortation centers. These associates will sort and consolidate customer packages to enable speedy shipping and Sunday deliveries.

Some job-seekers walked away with offers to stock merchandise or fill customer orders. Others were hired workers for seasonal positions, including some positions that will end in October, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The job fair coincided with Amazon’s previously stated promise to hire 130,000 workers by 2018. Specifically, the retailer expects to fill 100,000 full-time roles and more 30,000 part-time positions.

When the task is complete, Amazon's U.S. workforce could swell to approximately 300,000.

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REAL ESTATE

Retail’s history and future plays out in one building in Detroit

BY Al Urbanski

The address of Under Armour’s new brand house in Detroit — 1201 Woodward Avenue — is an historic one in retail. There, in 1917, S.S. Kresge, the forerunner of Kmart, opened its first Detroit “five-and-dime.” The Kresge Building figures in recent retail history, too, as one of the bloc of buildings purchased by Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert in his quest to revitalize Detroit’s blighted downtown.

It was just in the past year that Under Armour decided to make its mark on the new Detroit in this auspicious space. Bedrock — the development arm of Gilbert’s Rock Ventures LLC — took on the task of recasting this long-vacant space with the Under Armour brand while retaining the building’s historic aura.

“Under Armour embraced Detroit as an up-and-coming city. They were all-in for an A-level store here, like the brand house they have in downtown Chicago,” said Bedrock project director Scott Collins.

“The building is very open with a mezzanine level and an old marble staircase,” Collins continued. “The people from Under Armour embraced the character of the building and wanted to retain the staircase and the mezzanine space.”

Kraemer Design Group, a local architectural firm, worked with Under Armour to preserve and incorporate architectural details in the space. “The staircase itself had to be replaced, but the marble facings and brass railings were carefully refurbished,” said Kraemer’s project architect Laura Mitchell.

One unique challenge the project team faced was adding an elevator. According to Sachse Construction VP Jeremy Gershonowicz, Under Armour needed it installed for easier and quicker access to product stock in the lower level of the building and for exclusive access to each of their floors.

“The project team put their heads together to devise a way to build an operating elevator into the old building that was not previously built for such a structure,” said Gershonowicz. “This was done by relocating a vast amount of the existing building’s mechanical and electrical infrastructure, modifying the floor openings and installing a new elevator pit, and then adding in the CMU shaft walls.”

The elevator installation took about 28 weeks, according to Gershonowicz, while tenant buildout was done in just about half that time.

Through it all ran a mission of interlacing retail’s past with its future. “This was not just another building,” Collins remarked. “We took stock of its history and tried to make it look like it did originally.”


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