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Famed retail entrepreneur to keynote SPECS 2018

BY CSA Staff

Chain Store Age’s annual SPECS Show will open its 54th annual conference with a keynote address by Marcus Lemonis, the prolific retail investor, entrepreneur and star of CNBC’s hit reality series, “The Profit.”

Lemonis will take the stage at SPECS on Monday, March 19, 2018, at 8 a.m. He will explore the role that brick-and-mortar stores play in today’s marketplace, and how to drive growth, elevate the customer experience, and improve business processes.

Lemonis is CEO and chairman of Camping World, America’s number one retailer of RVs, camping accessories, RV maintenance and repair. Over the years, he has added additional retail ventures to his portfolio, including several fashion apparel banners under his Marcus Lemonis Fashion Group. Lemonis’ passion for business landed him the starring role on CNBC’s, “The Profit,” where he provides his expertise to struggling small businesses around the country.

SPECS will be held March 18-20 at the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine (Dallas), Texas. To review the agenda and to register, click here.

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Pizza chain teams up with Ford to test self-driving deliveries

BY Marianne Wilson

Customers may soon be able to avoid tipping for pizza deliveries.

Domino’s Pizza is conducting a second round of self-driving delivery vehicle testing, with a focus on the customer experience. The two-month test in Miami, in partnership with Ford Motor Co., will leverage the learnings of the first round of testing, but will add the element of delivery in a larger, urban setting.

“Our first round of testing the customer experience in Ann Arbor provided some great learnings and insights, including the fact that there are customers who are interested in this as a delivery option,” said Kevin Vasconi, executive vice VP and CIO of Domino’s. “Our testing is focused on the last 50 ft. of the customer experience, between the front door and the car. While we work to refine that interaction, we also need to understand how operating this type of delivery in a more densely populated city will impact the customer experience and the specific delivery challenges it might present.”

For the test, a Ford Fusion Hybrid vehicle – manually driven but outfitted to look like a self-driving vehicle – will take deliveries from a Miami Domino’s store to customers who have ordered online and chosen to participate in the test. Participating customers will be able to track the vehicle via GPS and will receive text messages as the self-driving vehicle approaches.

The texts will also provide them with simple instructions on how to unlock the Domino’s “heatwave compartment” inside the vehicle using a PIN code.

“As the automotive world evolves towards self-driving vehicles, we hope to put ourselves in a leading position by bringing our customers the delivery option that best meets their needs, now and in the future,” said Vasconi.

Domino’s Pizza is the largest pizza company in the world based on sales. It operates more than 14,800 stores in over 85 markets, and had global retail sales of over $12.2 billion in 2017, with more than $5.9 billion in the U.S. and more than $6.3 billion internationally.

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CBRE forecasts retail real estate rebound in 2018

BY Al Urbanski

Headlines continue to focus on the deceleration of traditional retail powers like Macy’s and J.C. Penney instead of the acceleration of on-trend value and fashion brands like Ross Dress for Less and H&M, according to CBRE senior managing director for retail Todd Caruso.

“The U.S. retail industry is evolving rapidly, but it isn’t receding,” said Caruso in releasing a 2018 market forecast that augurs well for non-gateway markets, off-price retailers, and restaurant and entertainment operators.

CBRE predicts retail rent growth of at least 2.5% in markets such as Atlanta, Houston, Nashville, and Denver that are experiencing job and population growth.

Across the retail spectrum, CBRE envisions landlords becoming more collaborative in the success of their retailers by sharing data, setting aside space for pop-up shops, and even taking equity stakes in retail start-ups in exchange for lower rents and occupancy costs.

The international real estate services and investment firm predicts, too, that the retail segment will draw more attention from opportunistic investors willing to redevelop and reposition failing centers.

Overall indicators bode well for a retail rebound in 2018, according to Brandon Famous, CBRE’s retail leader for the Americas.

“This year has started strongly for retailers and owners of retail centers, given the momentum generated by a robust holiday season, low unemployment and healthy consumer confidence,” Famous said.

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