OPERATIONS

U.K. shopping mall deploys ‘virtual’ employee

BY Marianne Wilson

Cambridge, U.K. — Grafton Shopping Centre, Cambridge, is hoping to dazzle shoppers with a “virtual” employee who greets customers when they enter the mall. The shopping center is using the Tensator Virtual Assistant, innovative technology which projects a life-like image of a person.

The display interacts with customers, answering common questions and promoting mall offers. This is the very first use of the technology in a United Kingdom shopping mall.

“We are proud to introduce the newest addition to our team. She is the first of her kind in a U.K. shopping centre and we believe she will be a real help to all our customers. Cambridge is known as the Silicon Fen for its new technology and we are proud to be introducing innovation in Cambridge’s popular retail destination,” said centre manager Lance Stanbury.

The Virtual Assistant has been supplied by customer journey technology specialist Tensator.

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FINANCE

Starbucks Q3 revenue up 11%; increases Americas store openings

BY Marianne Wilson

Seattle — Starbucks that its consolidated net revenue growth accelerated 11% in the third quarter, to $4.2 billion. Consolidated operating income increased 25%, to $769 million.

The coffee giant raised the number of net new stores it expects to open in its Americas region from 600 to 650.

Global same-store sales increased 6%, marking the 18th consecutive quarter of global comp growth of 5% or greater. Same-store sales in the United States rose 7%.

“Starbucks record Q3 results demonstrate both the power of our innovation and the opportunities for growth, globally and in the U.S., that lie ahead. Importantly, record revenues and operating margin reflect an acceleration of top-line growth and meaningful contributions from all operating regions and our Channel Development segment,” said Scott Maw, Starbucks CFO.

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OPERATIONS

Oracle opening cloud development center in Seattle

BY Marianne Wilson

Redwood City, Calif. — Oracle Corp. announced it is opening a cloud development center in Seattle, its first such center outside of California. The company, which plans to hire about 100 engineers to start, said it chose Seattle to take advantage of the “deep expertise” in cloud computing available in the city’s rapidly growing technical community.

"Oracle is committed to providing organizations with the industry’s broadest and most advanced cloud portfolio," said Prashant Ketkar, VP, product management, Oracle. "By opening this state-of-art facility, we are equipped to aggressively build out new cloud services. Seattle has a deep pool of talented engineers with its rich history of innovation and is the perfect location for us to harness that talent in order to accelerate our cloud investments."

The center will be run by Seattle tech natives Craig Kelly, most recently chief technology officer at Edifice, and Don Johnson, formerly with Amazon and RealNetworks.

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