Williams-Sonoma Combats Showrooming Issue with Private Labels, Customer Experiences

Posted by Dale Buss on October 8, 2013 05:38 PM

It was one thing for Best Buy and other big box, commodity chains to suffer from “showrooming,” but the practice now appears to be afflicting haute cuisine enabler Williams-Sonoma. And its new CEO Janet Hayes, who was named in March, is trying to do something about it.

The chain—a sibling brand to the Pottery Barn and West Elm housewares chains—has posted same-store sales declines for five of the last seven quarters as Williams-Sonoma copes with the growing scourge of showrooming—an action that the high-end retailer once didn't have to worry about because of its exclusive inventory. But now a host of brick-and-mortar and online rivals are presenting much of the same stuff, including upstarts Cutlery & More and Sur Le Table as well as Macy’s and Amazon, according to Bloomberg.Continue reading...

brand news

In the News: Fiat, BlackBerry, Macy's and more

Posted by Dale Buss on October 7, 2013 09:22 AM

In the News

Fiat loses momentum in US comeback.

BlackBerry discusses bids with big-name strategic buyers that would dismember brand.

Macy's rethinks web plans in China.

Allstate outflanks online rivals.

Boston Market offers promotion related to idled government workers.

Burger King sees perception gains after "Satisfries" launch.

C-Span finds interest amid government shutdown.

Chevrolet will limit supplies of new Corvette at first.

Cracker Barrel and Kraft settle trademark differences.

ESPN drops International X Games.

Frito-Lay introduces glow-in-the-dark Halloween packages.

GM prods dealers to sell cars online.

Hershey plans plant in Malaysia.Continue reading...

brand news

In the News: Chrysler, Disney World, Arby's and more

Posted by Dale Buss on September 24, 2013 09:36 AM

In the News

Chrysler files for IPO in valuation feud with UAW as company chokes on launch of new Jeep Cherokee

Disney World and Disneyland cut line-cutting privileges for disabled after abuse. 

Arby's names new CMO.

ADM plans to move top execs from Illinois plains to larger city.  

Bugatti plans to sell handbags to broaden appeal of luxury car brand. 

China will unblock Facebook, Twitter and the New York Times inside Shanghai Free Trade Zone. 

Citigroup cuts mortgage jobs as refinancing boom wanes.

Domino's upgrades online ordering.

Foxconn deals with large-scale worker fight on China campus.

Kraft Foods leverages Corn Nuts content in display ads.

Macy's campaign explains localization strategy.Continue reading...


Macy's Battles Slump with Surprise CEO Visits, Consumer Data

Posted by Dale Buss on September 13, 2013 10:06 AM

It's not the same kind of drama he created on the witness stand in the Macy's suit against JCPenney and Martha Stewart last spring. But Macy's CEO Terry Lundgren can still generate some anxiety when he calls store managers from his car as little as 10 minutes before conducting a surprise visit. "The first five minutes are a little uncomfortable," he told Bloomberg.

These drop-ins have taken on added urgency for Lundgren and the chain, the publication noted, as Macy's struggles like many other retail chains with the slow-growth American economy, in which middle-income shoppers particularly are feeling a financial pinch. The iconic department store brand also is trying to do a better job of exploiting its digital database on customers without tripping on privacy issues.

Neither the back-to-school season nor a cool summer across much of the country nor even anticipation of the winter holiday season has helped national department store retailers regain the mojo that they last possessed before the Great Recession. The largest US department store chain, Macy's last month reported second-quarter profits that missed estimates and lowered its forecast.Continue reading...

brand news

In the News: Daily Beast, Mondelez, Pandora and more

Posted by Dale Buss on September 12, 2013 09:31 AM

In the News

The Daily Beast loses Tina Brown.

Mondelez strikes unique deal with Twitter for in-house experts. 

Pandora names new CEO.

AT&T slammed for 9/11 tweet.

Aetna takes stand for health-cost reform.

Apple sees investors slam its "low-end" strategy as Google patent suit may get new life.

BlackBerry sees service business targeted by rivals.

Boston Market opens first new restaurant in seven years.

Chipotle targets "Big Food" with brand documentary.

Colgate campaign says "there's something in your Tweet."

Facebook gets stronger engagement on mobile than on PCs as FTC probes company on privacy issues.

Gorilla Glue branches out with first national TV ad campaign. 

Hilton files for IPO of up to $1.25 billion.Continue reading...

brand battle

JCPenney Chief Reportedly Calls Martha Stewart Wares 'Not That Great,' Wants to Dump Line

Posted by Dale Buss on September 5, 2013 05:41 PM

In a major move worthy of the strongest comparisons to SNL's Roseanne Roseannadanna, JCPenney CEO Myron Ullman reportedly has said he no longer wants Martha Stewart home merchandise in the retailer's stores.

The New York Post reported the blockbuster news that Ullman wants to pull the plug on the Martha Stewart designs that are the subject of a bitter lawsuit between Macy's and an alliance of JCPenney and Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. And the judge hasn't even ruled on the case yet.

Earlier this year, JCPenney actually had begun to roll out several home lines of new Stewart-designed products under its deal with her, even as the trial was going on. The partnership with Martha Stewart was a major move made by previous JCPenney CEO Ron Johnson in his efforts to transform the retail brand, but Macy's objected vigorously to it because the rival chain insisted it had an exclusive deal with Stewart for such wares.Continue reading...

brands under fire

Fast Food Workers Organize Nationwide Protests to Fight for More Pay, Unions

Posted by Sheila Shayon on August 29, 2013 12:03 PM

Fast-food workers in 50 US cities plan to walk off their jobs today in the latest—and largest—demonstration to pressure employers to allow workers to organize, and increase the minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 per hour. 

While a movement has been building since last year, employers have witnessed a resurgence in the demands for greater pay and unionized benefits, with a multi-city protest organized at the end of July. 

"The workers are responding to total failure on behalf of the federal government to raise the minimum wage to keep up with inflation and the cost of living," Tsedeye Gebreselassie, attorney at the National Employment Law Project, told Reuters. 

Employees of McDonald’s, Wendy's, Burger King and other QSR companies will be joined in protest by retail employees from stores such as Macy's, Sears, and Dollar Tree.Continue reading...


JCPenney's 'Improved' Results Spur Chain to Leave Johnson Era Behind More Quickly

Posted by Dale Buss on August 20, 2013 06:06 PM

For JCPenney, rewinding the recent past has continued to key a brighter future. That was apparent in fiscal-second-quarter results, released today, that showed the brand slowing its sales decline to only 12 percent year-on-year—a brutally negative figure that was only brightened by comparison with the 23 percent quarterly sales decline a year earlier.

With activist investor Bill Ackman out of the way, or at least off the JCPenney board, and his support shored up, CEO Myron Ullman apparently sees positive glimmers of the old JCPenney that he ran until a couple of years ago. The closer the retailer returns to the strategy he followed before giving way to Ron Johnson as CEO, Ullman is indicating, the greater chance JCPenney has of surviving.

"There are no quick fixes to correct the errors of the past," he said in a statement. "Moving forward, we're focusing our efforts on regaining customer loyalty by offering trusted brands, award-winning service and affordability that families can depend on."Continue reading...

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