OPERATIONS

West Marine opens Chicago flagship April 23

BY Dan Berthiaume

Chicago – West Marine will open a new 20,000-sq.-ft. flagship Midwest store on North Halsted Street in Chicago on April 23. The new Chicago store is located just off the North Branch Canal of the Chicago River that wraps around Goose Island.

In addition to core boating equipment such as maintenance supplies, sailboat hardware, trailer supplies and an engine parts counter, the store will have marine electronics units on display for mariners to touch and test. It will also sell men's and women's shoes and apparel, weatherproof gear, kayaks and paddleboards.

The new store will also serve as the company's Midwest hub for Port Supply, the wholesale division of West Marine. The Port Supply hub will serve as resource for marine businesses including professional boat builders, boat yards, boat dealers and governmental agencies.

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News

New hub designed to fuel growth for CST Brands

BY CSA STAFF

CST Brands is celebrating the grand opening of a new distribution center that aims to fuel its ambitious expansion plan in Texas.

The new 365,000-square-foot warehouse will serve as the main distribution hub for food and merchandise for about 600 Corner Store locations across Texas.

“We are happy to have found a new home in San Antonio that can grow with us as we expand our reach in Texas and across the U.S.,” said Kim Lubel President and CEO of CST Brands. “I am excited about our company’s future and we will continue to look for opportunities to grow.”

Located at 19500 Bulverde Road, the warehouse is housed on a 77-acre campus with an additional 146,000 square feet of office space that will serve as the company’s future headquarters (CST Service Center) starting in 2016.

The company says the new distribution center differentiates CST from its competitors because it allows Corner Stores to maintain fresher inventories, makes them faster to market with new and trendy items, gives more control over food safety and quality, lowers the cost of goods by consolidating items onto one truck and enables food service and private label offerings.

In addition to the warehouse and office space, CST plans to build a prototype Corner Store that will serve as a testing ground for new products and provide space to train and develop Team Members.

CST Brands Inc. operates approximately 1,900 locations throughout the Southwestern United States, New York and Eastern Canada .

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FINANCE

Survey: Online buying to skyrocket in 2015

BY Gina Acosta

New York — Retail CFOs expect U.S. consumers’ feverish appetite for online buying to continue its strong upward trajectory in 2015. According to a recent BDO USA survey, nearly four out of five (78%) retail chief financial officers anticipate their online sales to grow. Overall, CFOs forecast an impressive 9.9% boost to e-commerce sales this year. This projected increase comes after the Commerce Department’s estimate of a record-breaking $304.9 billion in U.S. online sales in 2014.

“Consumers crave speed, selection and the convenience of shopping anywhere and anytime at the touch of a button,” said Natalie Kotlyar, partner in the Consumer Business practice at BDO USA, LLP. “But investing in online and mobile systems is a difficult balancing act. Staying competitive requires retailers to deliver a seamless, engaging experience across channels, while at the same time investing to protect their consumers’ from the growing threat of cyber attacks.”

To capture more of consumers’ dollars across digital platforms, 37 % of CFOs say their primary growth tactic for 2015 is expanding their e-commerce and mobile offerings. At the same time, when asked where CFOs plan to spend the most capital this year, 22% point to e-commerce and mobile channels.

Meanwhile, mobile commerce is growing at nearly three times the rate of overall e-commerce, according to PayPal and Ipsos, and retailers are steadily realizing the need to enhance each touchpoint on their customers’ path to purchase. To keep up with the surge in mobile shopping, 68% of CFOs plan to increase their investment in mobile technologies in 2015, a leap from the 40% who planned to do so last year.

With more digital growth and more cyber threats on their radar, retailers are committed to both strengthening and securing their platforms, and a plurality (28%) of CFOs anticipate investing the most capital into their IT systems and technology this year. Following the wave of high profile breaches at major retailers in 2014, including Michaels, Supervalu and Home Depot, it comes as little surprise that more than half (56%) of CFOs have increased their spending on cybersecurity in the last 12 months. Among these retailers, 89% have begun using new software security tools and 81% have created a security breach response plan. At the same time, 40% have hired an external security consultant and 11% have brought in a Chief Security Officer.

The findings are from the ninth annual BDO Retail Compass Survey of CFOs, which examined the opinions of 100 chief financial officers at leading retailers located throughout the country. The survey was conducted in January 2015.

The BDO Retail Compass Survey of CFOs is a national telephone survey conducted by Market Measurement, Inc., an independent market research consulting firm, whose executive interviewers spoke directly to chief financial officers using a telephone survey conducted within a scientifically-developed, pure random sample of the nation’s retailers.

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