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Today’s Top Retail Stories



May 02, 2016

1. GNC considering sale

2. Ubisoft to launch retailtainment concept

3. Kmart to guarantee the garden

4. Home Depot CMO resigns

5. The least engaging retail brands are…

Also Noted

Spotlight: Bass Pro location gets 3M visits in first year

Stories from around the Web

News from the Marketing & Retail Industry



Today’s Top News

1. GNC considering sale

Monday, May 2, 2016 | By Laura Heller

GNC has begun a strategic review that could result in the sale of the company and has already led to an agreement to sell 84 corporate-owned stores.

The review is the result of poor quarterly reports and an ongoing slowdown in its vitamin business.

Sales and revenue for the first quarter declined 1.8 percent, same-store sales declined 2.6 percent in company-owned stores and dropped 5.6 percent at domestic franchise locations.

Still, GNC is pursuing a strategy that includes selling and refranchising corporate-owned stores and has agreed to sell 84 such units to Sun Holdings, which operates franchise locations for such brands as Burger King, Popeye’s and Golden Corral.

And now GNC is conducting a strategic review of all assets and options, including a sale of the company.

“After careful consideration, including discussions with a range of shareholders, we believe it is an appropriate time to undertake a comprehensive review of the company’s strategic and financial alternatives,” said Michael Hines, GNC’s chairman. “We are in the early stages of a broad review and will take the time we need to thoroughly evaluate our opportunities to achieve the best result for our shareholders, business partners and associates.”

“While the review is ongoing, GNC will continue to act with the necessary urgency to deliver improved financial performance by addressing our near-term challenges and continuing to execute our strategic initiatives,” Hines said.

“There can be no assurance that this review will result in any specific action, or any assurance as to its outcome or timing,” according to a company statement.

In August, GNC announced plans to rebrand itself around health and wellness, removing images of chiseled athletes and replacing them with families and individuals engaged in a healthy lifestyle.

For more:
– see this GNC statement
– see this GNC financial release

Related Articles:
GNC rebrands for health and wellness market
GNC buys UK discount online supplement retailer
CVS invests in Curbside for new CVS Express

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2. Ubisoft to launch retailtainment concept

Monday, May 2, 2016 | By Laura Heller

Video game developer Ubisoft will open its first retail and entertainment concept this summer in Montreal, with plans to expand elsewhere in Canada.

The 15,000-sq.-ft. complex will be in the center of the city’s retail hub and parents can drop off kids while shopping nearby, according to Retail Insider.

The video game-focused concept is two years in the making and is based on the company’s Rabbids video game franchise featuring mischievous rabbits, making it a “perfect match” for families and kids, according to Olivier Ernst, managing director of Ubisoft Canada.

The plan is to roll these centers out in or near dense retail clusters in Canada. The first is scheduled to open in August.

The concept isn’t entirely new in retail; entertainment properties from Disney to Viacom have opened interactive retail locations to varying degrees of success. Retailers and malls are adding entertainment and dining areas to stores to create more compelling environments.

For more:
– see this Retail-Insider story
– see this Toronto Star article

Related Articles:
Star Wars merchandise sales could reach $5 billion
The Mall: Destination Entertainment
Star Wars Force Friday a $1B retail event

3. Kmart to guarantee the garden

Monday, May 2, 2016 | By Laura Heller

Kmart (NASDAQ:SHLD) is offering a lifetime guarantee on select plants in the store’s garden centers as a way to drive sales and loyalty during the spring planting season.

Plants for Life, Guaranteed, is designed to let shoppers purchase select trees, shrubs and perennial plants with confidence that they will last a lifetime – literally. Kmart is the first national retailer to devote a lifetime guarantee on plants, according to the company.

“Plants for Life, Guaranteed grows our outdoor offerings and remains a budget-friendly option for members looking to upgrade their garden,” says Kelly Cook, Kmart chief marketing officer. “Our members can also continue to perfect their outdoor living spaces with Kmart’s wide selection of outdoor products including furniture, décor and accessories.”

Qualifying plants will be identified with a Plants for Life, Guaranteed tag and include perennials, shrubs and trees. Restrictions exclude annuals, houseplants, tropicals, seeds, bulbs and seasonal plants including Christmas trees, poinsettias and Easter lilies.

Kmart’s parent company Sears Holdings said in April it would close 68 Kmart stores. Still, the company is focused on growing sales to Shop Your Way rewards members and has implemented new features and benefits, including a pharmacy rewards program and in-vehicle pickup, exchanges and returns.

In November, Kmart brought back the Bluelight Special.

For more:
– see this Kmart announcement

Related Articles:
Kmart offering closeout deals
Sears to shutter some Kmart stores
Kmart rewards night owls, adds Black Wednesday and Freebie Saturday

4. Home Depot CMO resigns

Monday, May 2, 2016 | By Laura Heller

The Home Depot (NYSE:HD) has lost its chief marketing officer. Trish Mueller has resigned after nearly seven years with the home improvement chain.

Stephen Holmes, Home Depot director of communications, told Adweek that Mueller announced her resignation in mid-April and that Kevin Hofmann, president of online operations, will now hold the title of CMO in addition to his own.

     Trish Mueller

“It was an honor and a privilege to work at The Home Depot as CMO for the past five years!” Mueller said in a statement. “For now, I have decided to take some time off to consider what’s next, but I will always ‘bleed orange’ and be grateful for working for, in my opinion, the best retailer in America.”

Hofmann has been leading Home Depot’s technology teams, focused on e-commerce, supply chain and international operations.

“[Hofmann’s promotion] allows us to further integrate our digital assets to optimize our interconnected retail model,” Holmes told Adweek. “When you look at the growth and expansion of digital marketing, the combination of the physical and digital storefronts and things we are doing to integrate those elements to create an interconnected retail experience for consumers, having Kevin take on the CMO role in addition to his responsibilities as president of online makes a lot of sense.”

Home Depot has grown digital sales and reported more than $1 billion through that channel last year. It has added fulfillment capabilities to support online and was recently named best mobile shopping experience by Episerver’s Mobile Commerce Report 2015.

For more:
– see this Adweek story

Related Articles:
Home Depot’s mobile app drives sales in store and out
Home Depot’s Spring Black Friday now more digital
Home Depot sets $101 billion goal

5. The least engaging retail brands are…

Monday, May 2, 2016 | By Laura Heller

American Apparel, Aeropostale, Sears, Sports Authority and Whole Foods rank among the Top 10 least-engaging brands in Brand Keys’ 2016 Customer Loyalty Engagement Index survey.

The annual listing, now in its 21st year, ranks brands based on customer input in the automotive, tech, retail, food and beverage categories.

Volkswagen is No. 1 on the list.

There are five retailers in the Top 10. American Apparel is Brand Key’s third least-engaging brand with a ranking of just 38 of 100 on a scale of emotional engagement. Aeropostale is No. 5, Sears No. 6, Sports Authority—which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and last week said it would liquidate rather than restructure—sits at No. 9 and Whole Foods rounds out the list at No. 10.

Whole Foods suffered after being accused of price fixing and corporate hubris, according to the Brand Keys report.

“The fundamental reason these brands were rated so low for consumer engagement is because they were unable to meet the very high – and ever-growing – emotional expectations consumers bring to the marketplace,” noted Robert Passikoff, president of Brand Keys. “These are the critical values consumers use to compare brand options when they shop. If you do poorly, consumer displeasure not only shows up on the list but harshly in the real-world marketplace. And shortly thereafter on profit-loss statements.”

Some brands, including Abercrombie & Fitch and McDonalds, moved up in the ratings. Sears, however, remained in the Top 10 and continues to close stores.

Brand Keys queried 42,792 consumers, who are 18 to 65 years of age, from the nine U.S. Census Regions, and who self-selected the categories in which they are consumers.

For more:
– see this Brand Keys press release

Related Articles:
Kmart, Sears, American Apparel voted least engaging brands
52% of retailers don’t know their most valuable customers
88% of consumers prefer brand’s e-commerce site to third-party retailer

Also Noted

Spotlight: Bass Pro location gets 3M visits in first year

Sporting goods and outdoor retailers may be challenged, but this Bass Pro Shop in Memphis drew 3 million visitors in its first year. Read more.

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