News

Tween retailer launching entertainment division

BY Marianne Wilson

Justice is extending its brand in a new direction.

The tween girls apparel retailer announced the launch of a new division, Justice Studios, that will create original “empowering” content for young girls, including graphic novels, video series, music, documentaries and more.

“We continue to look for unique ways to engage our audience outside the store, and we view Justice Studios as the next step in our retail evolution,” said Lece Lohr, president of Justice, which operates more than 860 stores worldwide and is part of ascena retail group. “Our goal is to create empowering content that supports our Live Justice values, and shows girls that they can truly change the world.”

In launching the new division, Justice is partnering with Elevate Pictures, a Columbus, Ohio-based entertainment and production company that will collaborate with the retailer on the development and production of the content. Several projects are currently in the works, including a graphic novel series, “Ultra Squad,” which will be geared toward a generation of girls who want to make the world a better place through teamwork, positivity and inclusivity. The first novel will launch in Justice stores nationwide and online November 3, 2018. The second project is a documentary, “Finding Clara,” that follows four hard-working young dancers in a production of The Nutcracker.

In addition, Justice and Elevate will collaborate on the second annual “Live Justice” Awards. The show will be expanded into a year-round platform aligned to the brand mission of empowering and honoring remarkable tween girls who are making a difference around the world. The show will also feature live performances and appearances by some of the biggest names in the tween world.

Justice Studios will announce new projects throughout the year.

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Regulatory Wrap-Up: Weekly recap of retail-related judicial, legislation actions – Oct. 1

BY CSA Staff

Wages

Labor Department – The Labor Department established a tentative deadline of January 2019 to release the long-awaited rule updating overtime pay requirements.

Arkansas – The state supreme court-appointed magistrate determined that the proposed minimum wage ballot initiative has enough valid signatures to proceed. The state supreme court will review the decision and make a final determination. The minimum wage initiative, if passed, would gradually increase the state’s minimum wage to $11/hr by 2021.

California – The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals officially revived a case regarding a Starbucks corporate policy that requires an employee to clock out before uploading data about employees’ hours, sales, and other information. The federal case follows a separate state supreme court ruling earlier this year that determined that Starbucks must pay workers for the off-the-clock work.

New York City, NY – Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Commissioners approved a wage increase for airport workers to $19/hr over the next five years. The increase represents the highest level of mandated pay for municipal workers across the country and could set a new bar in the Fight for $15 movement.

Paid Leave

Pennsylvania – A house committee passed a bill that preempts localities from enacting wage and benefit mandates such as Philadelphia’s paid sick leave ordinance. The full house could act on the bill but the governor has vowed to veto any such legislation that reaches his desk.

Labor Policy

Labor Department – Secretary Acosta said in public comments that the department would be looking at rulemaking related to independent contractors, often referred to as employee classification, after the agency addresses the joint employer issue. Acosta noted that the regulations around both issues are outdated.

NLRB – National Labor Relations Board Chairman John Ring stated in a letter to Democratic Senators that board member William Emanuel had been cleared of any ethics concerns. As such, he is free to participate in an ongoing case that involves the use of corporate emails for union activity. The current case involving Caesars Resort Casino may overturn the standard established under the Purple Communications ruling. Mr. Emanuel’s former law firm represented a party in that case, causing some Democratic leaders to question his objectivity.

California – Governor Brown signed into law a bill that mandates publicly-traded companies which are based in the state must have at least one female member on the board of directors. The bill further stipulates that boards with five or more directors must have two or three women members by the end of 2021, depending on the board’s size.

California – The governor signed into law a bill that limits employer’s use of nondisclosure agreements related to sexual assault, or any gender-based harassment or discrimination. He also vetoed a similar bill that would have banned mandatory arbitration agreements as a condition of employment.

New Jersey – A bill that calls for mandatory sexual harassment prevention training for restaurant employees was introduced in the assembly. The language would apply to restaurants with 15 or more employees, including owners, and requires that periodic training be administered, beginning 90 days after hire and retaken every 5 years. Some exemptions are allowed for businesses with a formal sexual harassment program.

In-N-Out Burger – The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that In-N-Out Burger committed an unfair labor practice when it prevented employees from wearing Fight for $15 buttons on their uniforms.

Activism

Fight for $15 – Fight for $15 is gearing up for its largest national day of action in many years. This week’s protests, scheduled from Oct. 2-Oct. 4, will not just target QSRs but airport, hospital, childcare and other service-industry workers are expected to participate in the protests.

Health Care

California – Governor Brown signed into law legislation that bans small businesses from grouping together and taking advantage of association health plans as allowed by a recent executive order signed by the president. California is the only state so far that has banned such action.

Trade

NAFTA – The U.S., Canada and Mexico announced an agreement on an updated trade deal among the three countries. Some concessions were made on both sides to beat a self-imposed deadline of Oct. 1. The deal represents a potential major win for President Trump’s trade agenda, but it faces an uphill battle to get ratified by the U.S. Congress. Trump hopes that Democrats will be won over with pro-union changes to the agreement but concerns from some free trade conservatives could prove problematic.

Transportation

California – Governor Brown signed a law that holds retailers jointly responsible for labor violations by port trucking companies with which they contract. The issue of employer classification of truckers as independent contractors has been controversial for years and has been the subject of a recent investigative series by USA Today, highlighting abuses in the industry like wage theft and other violations. The law creates a public list of trucking companies that have not appealed or paid labor judgements against them. Retailers that contract with those companies can be held liable for future violations.

Key Takeaways

  • The announced agreement on a new NAFTA trade deal among the U.S., Mexico and Canada represents the first major achievement of the Trump Administration’s trade agenda. While the deal won’t be ratified until 2019, expect the announcement to embolden President Trump’s rhetoric regarding tariffs, especially as it relates to trade with China as well as his standing on the campaign trail.
  • This week, Fight for $15 will hold what may be its largest national day of action in the past few years. Restaurant and retail locations located along protest routes may experience disruptions even though they are not named targets. Operators should be mindful and prepared to handle protests or walk outs.
  • The announcement this week by Walmart that it will utilize blockchain technology in its food distribution chain is an important step in better protecting our food supply. However, it may present a challenge down the road as there is a growing drumbeat for increased transparency within company’s supply chains. Retail and restaurant companies have consistently argued that they should not be held liable for labor and workplace abuses throughout their supply chain citing lack of direct control. That argument is potentially weakened if some companies can demonstrate a level of direct control throughout other aspects of the supply chain like food quality.  It’s an issue worth keeping an eye on.

Legislature Status for Week of 10/1/18

  • The United States Senate is in session this week
  • The United States House is in session this week
  • Four state legislatures are meeting actively this week:
    • MA, MI, NC & PA

Podcast

Check out our Working Lunch podcast each week that includes further analysis into these legislative issues, policy, politics and much more. You can find Working Lunch on the Nation’s Restaurant News website, or by clicking here, and when you download the podcast and subscribe on iTunes here.

The Regulatory Wrap-Up is presented by Align Public Strategies. Click here to learn how Align can provide your brand with the counsel and insight you need to navigate the policy and political issues impacting retail.

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J. Crew reportedly has a new plan to attract younger female shoppers

BY CSA Staff

J. Crew Group has set its sights on the next step in its recovery strategy.

The retailer is preparing to unveil a new brand designed to appeal to a younger female shopper — even younger than those who already shop at the company’s existing banners, according to Bloomberg.

CEO Jim Brett said in a Bloomberg TV interview, “We see ourselves as having more than two brands. In fact, we’ll be announcing one new brand this year. It is aimed at women, and it’s younger than any of our existing brands.”

The new brand is J.Crew’s latest move in its turnaround strategy. Other efforts included the relaunch of its namesake brand which now offers more size options, as well as the success of its Madewell banner. The retailer also opened a dedicated storefront on Amazon that features a curated selection of its less expensive J.Crew Mercantile brand.

To read more, click here.

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