When Bedbugs Bite
In July, Abercrombie & Fitch’s Hollister store in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood closed for several days after it was hit with a bedbug infestation. A few days later, the company was forced to temporarily shutter a namesake store at the city’s South Street Seaport when another infestation was discovered.
Meanwhile, a Victoria’s Secret in the midtown section of the Big Apple was also contaminated in the same month.
These stores suffered a sales loss while the locations were closed. But even more worrisome was that news of the outbreak spread like wildfire and put the brands’ reputations at stake.
“Incidents like this are happening more and more these days—and not just in large cities,” said Mac Nadel, U.S. practice leader for the retail/wholesale, food and beverage industry at Marsh, one of the world’s leading insurance brokers and risk advisers. “The epidemic is spreading, and retailers need to take precautions to not only prevent outbreaks, but be proactive in knowing how to control and rebound from a bedbug situation.”
Although the retailers didn’t detail the cause, Abercrombie & Fitch said after the incident that it quarantined and tested products that had been recently returned to the stores. In fact, one of the main channels through which bedbugs enter the retail environment is the returns process, according to Nadel.
“Bedbugs in retail often stem from a shopper bringing back an item after it was infested at their home,” Nadel explained, adding that the reverse situation can also arise: Shoppers who purchase infested clothing at a store can spread the infestation to their own home.
Another common way bedbugs make their way into stores is through shipments.
“Before any shrinkwrap is removed, workers need to check for live or dead bedbugs, spiders and other insects, or for bug residue,” advised Joann Sullivan, senior VP in the workforce strategies practice of Marsh Risk Consulting, a division of Marsh. “Bedbugs are notorious hitchhikers, so they will spread easily and reproduce at rapid rates. If any live bugs are found on the package when it first comes in, especially if the inventory is clothing or bedding, it should not be accepted.”
Retailers should develop or implement a process to refuse shipments ahead of time. Merchants and suppliers should agree on processes for inspecting shipments, and suppliers should have an existing one in place to inspect and decontaminate their facilities.
In the meantime, potentially contaminated shipments should be isolated for further inspection, and, in addition to a visual check, boxes should be shaken to see if bugs are hiding. If an infestation is suspected, Nadel suggests reaching out to an exterminator immediately.
“Some people hire dogs to sniff out a location to detect an infestation, but retailers shouldn’t mess around when it comes to bedbugs,” Nadel said. “They should go straight to a licensed exterminator who can inspect the area and quickly take care of any issue.”
Bedbugs are notoriously difficult to exterminate. Pesticides have to hit them directly, and once the chemicals dry, protection doesn’t last. Checks should be done to ensure all bugs are gone.
During an outbreak, retailers should understand the expectations of their stakeholders, as well as employees, government and regulatory agencies, customers, consumers, investors/analysts and media, and make sure they are communicating with them consistently, accurately and in a proactive and timely manner.
“It’s critical to have a formal crisis management process in place,” Sullivan noted. “A defined process should be established to make good decisions quickly, prioritize actions, and understand the broader risks the event may pose to the organization and its reputation.”
Retailers should have a spokesperson ready to speak on the company’s behalf. Someone should also be familiar with the local health codes in order to more efficiently work with health officials to get the store back up and running.
“The bottom line is that retailers should be proactive, educated on the subject, and ready to deal with bugs should any situation occur,” Sullivan said.
Kmart launches Smart Sense
HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. – Kmart announced the expansion of its brand portfolio with the introduction of the Smart Sense line, its new Kmart brand that includes a wide range of items including everything from snacks and beverages, to oral care, paper products, household cleaners and over-the-counter medications. The quality of the Smart Sense line is comparable to that of national name brands, and on average costs 20% less, according to the company.
"With the introduction of the Smart Sense line, Kmart is looking to offer a more affordable Kmart brand product assortment that will rival the quality of more nationally recognized brands," said Mark Snyder, chief marketing officer, Kmart. "While the Smart Sense line will offer the everyday essentials, Kmart is also taking it a step further by providing unique products that you wouldn’t typically expect to see under a store brand."
The Smart Sense line currently consists of hundreds of products available in Kmart stores and the product line will expand to more than 1,200 items by early 2011, the company reported. Kmart said it will also support the Smart Sense line launch through multiple communications channels, including advertising, coupon offers, merchandising displays, sampling, digital marketing and event marketing.
In addition to the introduction of the Smart Sense line, a new look has been created for many other Kmart brand products, the company reported. The brighter and more vibrant packaging has been designed to capture the "colorful thinking" Kmart is demonstrating through its new product and brand announcements. In addition to the Smart Sense line roll-out, Kmart is also introducing products in a re-launch of its other exclusive brands, which include, Little Ones baby care products, Champion Breed pet care products, Image Essentials personal care products and VitaSmart vitamin products.
Target to open ten stores on 10/10/10
MINNEAPOLIS Target announced that it will open 10 stores across the country, resulting in the creation of more than 2,400 jobs.
The stores will open in the following communities:
* Sacramento East: 6507 4th Ave., Sacramento, Calif. * Simi Valley West: 51 Tierra Rejada Rd., Simi Valley, Calif. * Bakersfield Central: 2901 Ming Ave., Bakersfield, Calif. * San Jose North: 95 Holger Way, San Jose, Calif. * Azusa: 809 Azusa Ave., Azusa, Calif. * Salt Lake City: 1110 S. 300 West, Salt Lake City, Utah * Little Rock University: 420 S. University Ave., Little Rock, Ark. * Christiana: 800 Christiana Mall, Christiana, Del. * Flushing: 4024 College Point Blvd., Flushing, N.Y. * Braintree: 250 Granite St., Braintree, Mass.
“These new Target store openings will help support local economies and make life easier for our guests by creating new jobs, spurring development and providing the utmost in convenience and value,” said John Griffith, EVP property development for Target. “We are looking forward to deepening our relationship with guests in communities across the country.”
As part of the grand opening celebrations, Target said each store will contribute to its community by initiating a local grant program, contributing to the United Way, donating food to Feeding America and product to the local Goodwill chapter and encouraging team members to volunteer their time to serve their community.