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Under Armour, New York City

BY CSA STAFF
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The athletic performance-wear giant known for its commitment to innovation goes big in Manhattan, opening its newest and largest “brand house” location to date. With 10,000 sq. ft. of selling space, the store immerses customers in the Under Armour mystique and houses its most comprehensive assortment of men’s, women’s and children’s apparel, footwear and equipment in the country. (The “brand house” designation is given to Under Armour’s full-line retail stores, with innovation, specialization and personalization the defining elements, as opposed to its larger network of outlet stores.)

Entering the store, customers are greeted by a huge video wall, made up of over two million LED lights, that plays a 22-minute continuous loop of video highlighting products and Under Armour-affiliated athletes engaging in sporting activities. Bold, oversized photos drive home the brand’s performance positioning.

The first floor houses men’s and women’s non-running apparel. Each of the fitting rooms is modeled after a different court or stadium, and each has a name that reflects a locale where the brand has a presence. Large murals of cities cover the walls.

The lower level is home to the children’s area and men’s and women’s running merchandise. It also houses the company’s first Rowhouse Basement shop (the name is a reference to the company’s founding in the basement of the Georgetown home of CEO Kevin Plank’s grandmother). It’s designed to serve as a VIP area where staff provide private consultations to athletes and celebrity clientele in an intimate setting.

With five U.S. locations to date, Under Armour’s “brand house” model was not created for mass roll out. Instead, the company intends to focus on “key markets where we can be strategic,” CEO Plank told investors in a recent conference call.

Creative advisory services for store layout and design: a + 1 design corp., New York City


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FINANCE

Express stumbles in Q1; closing 50 stores, ramping up outlet-store expansion

BY Marianne Wilson

Columbus, Ohio — Express Inc. said on Thursday that its fiscal first-quarter profit fell to $5.08 million, from $32.4 million a year earlier. The company also announced it will close approximately 50 stores during the next 36 months, primarily at the end of their leases, even as it ramps up expansion of its of its new outlet-store concept. Express debuted its outlet format this past April.

“I am also delighted to note that the 17 Express Factory Outlet Stores now in operation are exceeding our plans and being met with great enthusiasm. We expect them to contribute to a stronger second half. In light of this performance, we are accelerating future outlet store openings,” said Michael Weiss, chairman and CEO, Express.

Express sales fell to $460.7 million, from $509.4 million. Same-store sales plunged 11%.

"We had anticipated a very challenging first quarter, but our actual results were weaker than planned,” Weiss said. “Our business strengthened in April, but not to the degree that we anticipated when we formulated our first quarter guidance. While external challenges contributed to the decline in our first quarter performance, we also did not execute as well as we could have."

Express said its 50 store closures are expected to result in profit improvement of $5 to $8 million once all locations are closed. The closings are expected to start at the end of its current fiscal year or the beginning of the next fiscal year.

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OPERATIONS

Census Bureau: Online shopping and mail-order businesses jump 27%

BY Marianne Wilson

Washington, D.C. — Online shopping is showing rapid growth compared to the rest of the retail trade sector, with the number of establishments growing 27.4% between 2011 and 2012, according to new U.S. Census Bureau statistics released today. Drawn from County Business Patterns: 2012, the new data provides the only detailed annual information on the number of establishments, employees and payroll for nearly 1,200 industries at the national, state and county levels.

The number of electronic shopping and mail-order houses establishments grew from 23,697 to 30,185 between 2011 and 2012. Employment climbed 13.7% to 365,508. In contrast, for the retail trade sector as a whole, which includes traditional brick-and-mortar stores, the number of establishments rose just 0.1%, while employment climbed 0.7%.

The greatest employment increases in electronic shopping and mail-order houses were concentrated in counties within Southern California, the New York metro area, Chicago metro area, and other metro areas such as Memphis, Tenn. (Shelby County), Las Vegas (Clark County), Grand Rapids, Mich. (Kent County), Columbus, Ohio (Franklin County) and Minneapolis (Hennepin County). In addition, two counties in North Carolina (Guilford and Wake, home of Greensboro and Raleigh, respectively) and one in Missouri (Clay, near Kansas City) also had large gains in employment for this industry.

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