REAL ESTATE

Uniqlo in West Coast debut unveils ‘virtual dressing room’

BY Staff Writer

San Francisco — Uniqlo will open its first store on the West Coast, in San Francisco, on Oct. 5.

The 29,000-sq,-ft., three-story flagship, in the city’s Union Square district, combines a sleek design with the latest modern technology, including the unveiling of the chain’s "Magic Mirror" technology. Developed by Dai Nippon Printing (DNP), this ‘virtual dressing room’ allows customers to use the Kinect color-changing engine and half-mirror touch panel technology to instantly switch between different color palettes of iconic Uniqlo clothing. The large bright color monitor is engineered make consumers feel like they are actually wearing the real product, according to Uniqlo.

“We are very pleased with the beautiful design and stunning architecture of our flagship San Francisco store," said Uniqlo USA COO Yasunobu Kyogoku. "We’ve preserved the historical facade while completely remodeling the interior, rejuvenating the space with a modern contemporary twist. We’ve also infused the latest state-of-the art technology to create a marquis shopping destination."

High-beamed ceilings and a large basement to roof skylight enables natural sunlight to illuminate the central glass case housing some of the more than 91 rotating mannequins situated around the store. Other features include a rainbow-colored LED-illuminated staircase, and 77 LCD screens that line the perimeter of the store on seven large monitor walls featuring a rotational mix of Uniqlo marketing campaigns and product promotions.

San Francisco is Uniqlo’s fifth U.S. retail location. The company operates three locations in Manhattan, and one in Paramus, N.J.

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STORE SPACES

McCormick World of Flavors uses HP technology to engage shoppers

BY Marianne Wilson

Palo Alto, Calif. — HP announced that its technology is powering an interactive, hands-on experience for shoppers and visitors at the new McCormick World of Flavors store in Baltimore.

The 3,800-sq.-ft. store, located in the city’s Inner Harbor, is part retail store and part tourist attraction, and is designed to educate visitors about McCormick and its products. It features five digital engagements, including the scent-based game “Guess That Spice,” and a 28-ft. wall dedicated to McCormick’s rich past, and the history of spices and flavors. It also offers “FlavorPrint,” which allows consumers to determine their flavor profile, a cooking demonstration area where they can pick up culinary tips, and “Flavors in the Making,” a series of entertaining videos they can view to see how herbs and spices like saffron and cinnamon go from plants around the world to the table.

McCormick worked with 5thScreen Digital Services — HP’s integration partner for the project — to deploy 42-inch, touch-enabled HP digital signage displays and HP TouchSmart All-in-One PCs within the location.

The interactive displays also demonstrate ways a brand can reward customer loyalty or offer sales incentives. After they test their smelling capabilities with Guess That Spice, visitors are dispensed a discount coupon they can use in the store.

“Telling the story of how McCormick has grown from a spice company to a global flavor company was an exciting challenge,” said Kathleen Haley, director, corporate brand and communications, McCormick. “HP touch displays enable us to tell our story to visitors in an immersive experience. 5thScreen Digital Services were integral partners in creating the content and look and feel of these environments, allowing customers to learn more and sample our brand in exciting new ways.”

Click here to see photos of the store.

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FINANCE

Costco and TJX beat estimates in September, Target misses

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Costco Wholesale Corp. reported a better-than-expected 6% rise in September same-store sales, helped by higher gasoline prices and a stronger dollar. Excluding the impact of gasoline prices and foreign exchange, comparable September same-store sales rose 5%.

Net sales rose 8% to $9.31 billion in the five weeks ended Sept. 30. Costco, which currently operates 608 warehouses, said it plans to open up to 14 new warehouses prior to the end of calendar year 2012.

Target Corp. said its same-store sales rose 2.1% in September, boosted by sales of back-to-school items and groceries. Analysts expected a 2.2% increase.

The chain’s total sales for the five weeks ended Sept. 29 rose 2.6% to $6.08 billion.

“Target’s comparable-store sales performance in September was in line with our guidance for the month," said Gregg Steinhafel, chairman, president and CEO of Target Corp. "We’re pleased with our sales results through the first two months of the quarter and believe we remain on-track to attain our third-quarter sales and profit goals."

The TJX Cos. reported that September same-store sales rose 6%, beating Wall Street predictions. The company said it would have raised its earnings outlook for the third quarter because of its strong September, but is leaving its guidance at 56 cents to 59 cents per share because it is taking a two-cent charge related to pension costs.

“We are particularly happy with business at TJX Europe, where comp sales increased 13%,” said TJX CEO Carol Meyrowitz. “Our results in Europe represent consistently good performance and an increasingly strong trend, which underscore our confidence in our European growth opportunity. It’s important to note that we ended the month with great momentum across the board, which bodes well for the rest of the fall as well as the 2012 holiday selling season, which we believe will be terrific for TJX!”

In other discounter results:

Ross Stores reported a 5% increase in same-store sales. Sales increased 10% to $800 million for the five weeks ended September 29, 2012, up from $726 million in sales for the five weeks ended October 1, 2011.

Michael Balmuth, vice chairman and CEO, commented: "We are pleased with same store sales gains in September that continued to outperform our expectations. The primary driver of our favorable business trends year-to-date remains our ongoing focus on delivering fresh and exciting assortments of name brand bargains that continue to resonate with today’s value-focused consumers."

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