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Whole Foods’ Fashion Debut

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Whole Foods seems to have figured out that a mall setting shouldn’t be a real estate deterrent. In fact, it might be a real asset.

The grocer has been stretching its site-selection wings over the last couple of years, but has positively taken flight with its latest opening – a 32,000-sq.-ft. store at the Fashion Island regional shopping center in Orange County, Calif.

The Irvine Co. center is a dandy – featuring Nordstrom, the county’s only Neiman Marcus, an upscale cinema and a new Apple flagship store, with tony Newport Beach as its surrounds.

In fact, Irvine’s $100-million redevelopment of its iconic property has brought in 40 new stores since 2010 plus a lineup of interesting dining options.

But, says Irvine, the newly opened Whole Foods represents a real milestone. It is the organic grocer’s fifth in Orange County, but its first in a regional center setting and it marks a Newport Beach debut. Whole Foods has a few new tricks up its sleeve for this new location, unveiling the first “Tea Hive” fusion café and tea bar for the company, as well as a beer and wine bar coined Back Bay Tavern. This most definitely isn’t your mother’s supermarket.

“Whole Foods will further enhance Fashion Island’s mix of eclectic, one-of-a-kind stores and lend to the unique customer experience of the center,” said Dan Sheridan, president of Irvine Co. Retail Properties.

I’ll say. And it will be interesting to watch Whole Foods’ continued march into atypical grocery locations as it heads toward its goal of 1,000 stores.


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TRU fires latest shot in holiday toy battle

BY CSA STAFF

WAYNE, N.J. — Toys"R"Us revealed its 2012 hot toys list Wednesday, but not before Walmart did the same, giving the discounter a head start and the opportunity to poke fun at the toy retailer’s earlier announced toy reservation program.

The Toys"R"Us list includes 36 toys available in stores and online at Toysrus.com/HotToys. As earlier announced, customers can reserve any of the 36 toys named to the list, as well as 14 additional Holiday Hot Toy List "contenders," now through Oct. 31.

"At Toys"R"Us, we live and breathe toys 365 days a year, and we’ve spent the past 12 months scouring the world for the most amazing new toy introductions to offer our customers this Christmas," said Lisa Harnisch, SVP, general merchandising manager, Toys"R"Us, U.S. "Putting together this official guide to holiday toy shopping is never easy, but our track record for identifying the hottest toys of the season year after year is well established. That’s why we’re excited also to introduce our first-ever Hot Toy Reservation program, providing gift givers the ability to obtain any of the 50 toys we – as THE toy authority – believe will be among the most sought-after playthings of the season."

Walmart got a jump on Toys"R"Us by unveiling its top toy list on Friday morning. In doing so it took the opportunity to take a shot at Toys"R"Us and its toy reservation program.

Walmart said its layaway program and top toy offering gives parents the confidence to shop now for the toys kids want at every day low prices. And in an obvious dig at Toys"R"Us, the press release for Walmart’s top 20 toys declared, "no reservations required: America’s largest toy seller’s hassle-free layaway program begins this Sunday."

Walmart’s announcement followed a Toy’s "R" Us event held at the retailer’s New York City flagship stores where CEO Gerry Storch sought to position his company as the holiday toy authority and unveiled a new "hot toy" reservation program. Toys "R" Us includes 50 items on what it called its much-anticipated hot toy list that serves as the official guide to Christmas toy buying. The company also said it would begin a new service to ship orders placed online to stores, something Walmart has been doing for years.

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Ascena Retail Q4 profit falls, but beats Street

BY Marianne Wilson

Suffern, N.Y. — Ascena Retail’s net income plunged 94% in its fiscal fourth quarter, dragged down by costs related to its acquisition of Charming Shoppes Inc. Its adjusted earnings topped Wall Street’s view.

Ascena, owners of the Dressbarn, Maurices and Justice, announced in May that it was buying Charming Shoppes, whose divisions include Lane Bryant, Fashion Bug and Catherines Plus for approximately $890 million. Ascena is in the process of closing Fashion Bug’s stores.

Ascena reported that it earned $1.6 million for the period ended July 28, down from $28.2 million a year earlier.

Net sales 29% to $939.7 million from $725.8 million, driven by online sales and sales from new stores, easily beating Wall Street projections of $781.7 million.

Same-store sales rose 3%, not including online sales, which increased 49% to $39 million, excluding Charming’s results.

By brand, sales were strongest at Justice, where revenue at stores open at least a year climbed 5%.

The company plans to open approximately 180 to 200 stores and close 100 to 120 stores, ending the fiscal year with about 3,900 Justice, Lane Bryant, Maurices, Dressbarn and Catherines stores.

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