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First Look: Casper expanding in physical retail

BY Marianne Wilson

The fast-growing online company that disrupted the mattress industry has its sights set on brick-and-mortar expansion up north.

Casper, which upended the mattress industry with its bed-in-a-box product, has opened a temporary location in Montréal. It will be followed by a permanent store later this year.

The Montreal outpost comes on the heels of the company’s first Canadian site — and second permanent store to date — which opened in May, at Toronto’s CF Sherway Gardens. Its opening marks the launch of a multi-province retail fleet throughout Canada. Casper will also open a Canadian headquarters, in Toronto.

“We’ve seen tremendous success in Canada with three years of triple digit growth,” said Philip Krim, co-founder and CEO, Casper. “Investing further in the market and expanding our local presence will enable us to bring better sleep to even more Canadians across the country.”

Called Le Chalet Casper, the Montreal store offers an inviting environment inspired by the tranquility of a traditional Québécois summer home. Visitors can test out Casper sleep products in one of three miniature sleeping areas, with the spaces themed around the Canadian summer activities of hiking, sailing and fishing. Product can be purchased for carry out or for home delivery.

“At Casper, we believe that the experience of buying a mattress should be just as comfortable as sleeping on one,” said Nicole Tapscott, senior director and general manager of Casper Canada. “Le Chalet Casper is designed as an oasis for people to relax as they would in a summer chalet to escape the city heat and bustle. We encourage visitors to touch, feel and experience our sleep products in an environment that will leave them with the feeling of a life well slept.”

On the home front, Casper opened some 15 long-term pop-ups across the United States last year. In February, the brand opened its first-ever permanent location, in downtown Manhattan.

Founded in 2014, Casper’s total global revenue since inception has grown to more than $600 million.

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Physical stores win out over online competitors in this category

BY Al Urbanski

Apparel ranks as one of the most purchased categories online, but clothing stores in malls still own a strong advantage over e-commerce competitors.

That’s according to a survey by Valassis, the consumer promotion and coupon company, which surveyed consumers who visited an indoor mall more than times in the past year and found that 60% of them prefer to shop apparel in the physical marketplace. Their chief reasons for doing so: being able to try on items and visit — and compare selections — at several different stores.

The survey found mall shopping also offers other advantages compared to online options including:

• The social aspect of outings with family and friends;
• Convenience for quick gift purchases;
• A full-day experience that may include dining and entertainment; and
• The ability to compare prices and products across multiple stores.

Shoppers preferred online shopping as opposed to a mall, meanwhile, for a broader range of product options, avoiding crowds and parking problems, and reducing the amount of impulse purchases.

Asked what might entice them to visit malls more often, respondents said more discounts (59%), better parking accommodations (20%); events (18%), and grocery options (17%).

Click here for an infographic.

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Barnes & Noble widens loss in Q4; to open smaller format

BY Marianne Wilson

The nation’s largest bookseller reported a wider loss in its fourth quarter over last year amid disappointing sales and charges related to turnaround initiatives.

Barnes & Noble’s net loss for the quarter ended April 28 was $21.1 million, or 29 cents per share, compared to a loss of $13.4 million, or 19 cents per share, in the year-ago period. The loss includes $7.7 million in non-recurring charges. Analysts had expected a loss of 20 centers per share.

Sales fell 3.4% to $786.1 million, which is better than analysts had expected. Same-store sales decreased 4.1%.

On the chain’s quarterly call, CEO Demos Parneros said to improve sales trends, the retailer is focused on enhancing the customer experience, better curation, increasing the value for its members and investing in marketing to drive traffic. It is also “innovating for the future” through newly designed stores.

“We’re excited to open several new prototype stores this year, which will feature a completely new design,” Parneros said. “We see a lot of opportunity for the smaller and more flexible prototype.”

Barnes & Noble’s target size for the new stores is 14,000 sq. ft.

“We are excited to be launching early fall with the first one of these stores and we intend to get great learning and takeaways from these,” Parneros added.

For the full year, Barnes & Noble’s sales fell 6%, to $3.7 billion. Same-store sales were down 5.4%. The retailer sees better days ahead.

“In fiscal 2018 we developed a long-term strategic turnaround plan, which we continue to execute,” said Parneros in a statement. “Our plan, which includes sales improvements and cost reductions, is expected to yield immediate improvement in fiscal 2019, resulting in EBITDA of $175 million to $200 million, and further benefits in the following years.”

Barnes & Noble operates 630 bookstores nationwide.

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