REAL ESTATE

Vornado Supports Kmart Acquisition of Sears

BY CSA STAFF

New York City, Vornado Realty Trust announced it would back Kmart Holdings Corp. in its proposed acquisition of Sears Roebuck & Co. Vornado, currently holding 1.18 million shares of Sears stock and a derivative position for another 7.9 million shares, said it would elect to receive stock in the new merger.

Paramus, N.J.-based Vornado raised eyebrows in the investment community last November when, shortly before the proposed acquisition was announced, it revealed that it had boosted its holdings in Sears to 4.3%. The announcement triggered speculation that Vornado was planning to redevelop some of Sears’ real estate, much of which is leased at below-market rates.

Sears’ shares have consistently traded higher since the merger was announced in November on the hopes that Vornado might team with a rival retailer to make a competing bid. Any spoiler would be forced to absorb $400 million in break-up fees, part of the Sears-Kmart agreement.

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MARKETING/SOCIAL MEDIA

Digital Signage Entertains at Hollister Co

BY CSA STAFF

Las Vegas, At GlobalShop 2005, PlayNetwork Inc. announced the release of a case study detailing retailer Hollister’s use of digital signage for in-store entertainment. Live video footage from Huntingdon Beach, Calif., is distributed via closed-circuit network and broadcasted on large “Video Windows” in Hollister stores nationwide. The 5-ft. by 5-ft. liquid-crystal screens are displayed in 3-by-3 configurations.

“This is the first retail digital-signage and entertainment system of its kind featuring 24/7 real-time video for a specific in-store experience,” said Darrell Champagne, PlayNetwork’s VP systems engineering. The technology is just one example of how retailers are using digital signage for in-store branding and to enhance the shopping experience.

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FINANCE

Barnes & Noble 4Q Profits Down

BY CSA STAFF

New York City, Barnes & Noble, Inc. reported earnings of $115.6 million, or $1.56 per share, for the three months ended Jan. 29, compared with $130.2 million, or $1.65 per share, in the year-ago period. The 11% decline in fourth-quarter profits was influenced by the spin-off of its GameStop division. Sales for the fourth-quarter were $1.67 billion, compared with $1.59 billion in the same period a year ago. Store sales increased 5% to $1.4 billion for the quarter, while comp-store sales rose 1.7%. The bookseller opened 32 new stores and closed 13 branches during the year, ending with 666 stores.

Sales for the B. Dalton division, which comprise about 4% of total bookstore sales, were $60.9 million for the quarter, which is a 24% decrease over the year-ago period. B. Dalton comp-store sales declined 3.2% for the fourth quarter.

For the fiscal year, earnings were $143 million, or $1.93 per share, vs. $151.8 million, or $2.07 per share, a year ago. Total sales for the year were $4.78 billion, up from $4.37 billion a year ago.

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