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  • Asics takes revamped Asics Tiger concept to China

    Japanese sportswear brand Asics is introducing its revamped Asics Tiger brand in China with the launch of its first standalone store in Xintiandi, Shanghai’s trendy shopping mall. Relaunched as a sports lifestyle brand and inspired by retro athletic shoes, Asics Tiger makes its debut in China with a store that will serve as the new frontier for the brand. The store offers the latest and most exclusive Asics Tiger products including footwear, apparel, and accessories, as well as collaborations such as the Asics Tiger and Porter footwear collection. “I’m thrilled to announce the opening of ASICS Tiger’s first standalone store in China. Together with the recently opened, first directly-managed store at iapm, we have built a strong presence of the revived ASICS Tiger brand here,” said Hilda Chan, general manager of Asics China. “Rooted in Asics’ history, focus on quality, and designs supported by technology, ASICS Tiger will continue to build its reputation as a sports lifestyle brand that always pursues evolution and enriches lifestyles here in China.” The store design presents key concepts like high street, fluidity and immutability through elements like marble shoe walls, white centre tables, mortar walls and guard rails. On the ceiling, a straight yellow accent line expresses the innovation and freedom of a brand that seeks to break the mold.

  • Wal-Mart earnings top Street estimates as retailer's digital sales jump 63%

    Wal-Mart's U.S. business is thriving in a challenging environment, as aggressive pricing helped bring more shoppers into stores, while efforts to expand its digital business are paying off in robust growth. The retailer's U.S. comparable sales — an important metric for retail stocks — grew for the 11th consecutive quarter, climbing 1.4 percent compared with a FactSet estimate for 1.3 percent growth. Notably, Wal-Mart was also able to increase traffic to its U.S. stores again, at a time when others are seeing fewer shoppers. The retailer said its comparable sales traffic grew 3 percent, on a two-year stacked basis. Wal-Mart's e-commerce sales rose a whopping 63 percent, compared with 29 percent growth last quarter. Despite making a number of acquisitions, the majority of these sales were organic through Walmart.com, the company said. Shares of Wal-Mart were up 2.7 percent to $77.15 in early trading Thursday. Wal-Mart's total fiscal first-quarter revenue grew 1.4 percent, to $117.54 billion, falling slightly short of a $117.74 billion forecast by analysts. Earnings per share rose 2 percent to $1.00, up from 98 cents a year ago. The profit was higher than a Thomson Reuters consensus estimate for 96 cents a share. "Inside the company we can see that we're moving faster to combine our digital and physical assets to make shopping easier and more enjoyable for customers, but we can also see plenty of room to improve," Wal-Mart CEO Doug McMillon said on Thursday's earnings conference call. The big-box retailer has been making strides to expand and improve its e-commerce platform. The company recently acquired Jet.com, bringing in new talent to help manage its digital operations. Jet.com's founder, Marc Lore, is now the CEO of Wal-Mart's e-commerce division. This comes at a time when Wal-Mart is locked in an online battle with players like Amazon and Target. Wal-Mart recently rolled out free two-day shipping for online orders over $35, prompting Amazon to slash its free-shipping threshold for shoppers who don't have a Prime membership. "We need to scale our e-commerce business further and see some additional strength in our store comps to deliver the results we know we're capable of — so that's what we're focused on," McMillon went on. During the first quarter, Wal-Mart's online gross margin values rose 69 percent, management added. "E-commerce is working [for Wal-Mart]," Barclays food and staples retail analyst Karen Short told CNBC on Thursday morning. "And it's not coming at the expense of brick-and-mortar, because you need both to survive." Despite Amazon wanting to eat everyone's lunch, Wal-Mart stands out from its peers in being able to capture customers online, Short said. After its purchase of Jet.com, smaller acquisitions of sites like ModCloth and Moosejaw are evidence of this, she added. "Wal-Mart is definitely a winner."

  • Target shows progress, but turnaround still has a way to go

    Target's revenue and comparable sales are falling less than some had feared, giving investors hope that the retailer's turnaround efforts will pay off in the long run. This year, the company began its plan to invest more than $7 billion in capital over the next three years, or about $1 billion in annual operating profits, in order to "evolve" to meet consumer preferences. Target shares spiked in premarket trading Wednesday following the discount retailer's first-quarter earnings report. But the stock fell from those highs shortly after, last trading up around 2 percent. "We're not doing any high-fives in the room here today," Target CEO Brian Cornell told analysts and investors on the company's earnings conference call. "Our first-quarter performance is not what we expect to deliver over time." However, Cornell expressed confidence in the company's turnaround strategy. Target reported its same-store sales fell 1.3 percent, a narrower decline than the 3.7 percent forecast by analysts in a FactSet survey. Target's net income rose to $681 million, or $1.23 a share, in the first quarter, from $632 million, or $1.05 a share a year ago. Excluding items in the latest period, Target earned $1.21 a share, outpacing Thomson Reuters analysts' estimate of 91 cents per share. Meanwhile, revenue fell 1.1 percent, to $16.02 billion, which was higher than the $15.62 billion in sales that analysts were expecting. Cornell said the company showed "strong execution" in a "very choppy environment." "After starting the quarter with very soft trends, we saw improvement later in the quarter, particularly in March," he said in a statement. Target saw a 2.2 percent drop in same-store sales at brick-and-mortar locations, which it attributed to a decline in customer visits, with shoppers picking up fewer items on average, the company said. Sales in its food and beverage business were also down. The declining traffic and smaller checkout tickets showed that progress still needs to be made. "The foremost issue is the quality of Target's stores," Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail, wrote in a Wednesday research note. "These are far too functional, change too infrequently, and offer very little in the way of inspiration. Such a position means that Target struggles to pull in customers — something our data shows is getting worse over time, especially among younger millennial consumers." The big-box retailer hopes that by rolling out 12 original brands over the next two years — building on the success of its Cat & Jack children's line — this will drive more shoppers back to its stores. The first of the 12 brands, called Cloud Island, will roll out later in May and features home decor, bedding and bath items, Target said. In addition to improving Target's merchandise mix, the company plans to grow its footprint of smaller-format stores, which Cornell has said contribute more than double the per-foot sales productivity of bigger locations. "While we're happy with the performance of these smaller stores when they open, what's most encouraging is the continued growth we're seeing when the stores become mature," Target COO John Mulligan said on Wednesday's earnings conference call. "Specifically, for our 10 mature small-format stores, we are seeing double-digit comp increases on average so far this year." Target said it will open 30 small-format stores by the end of the year, having opened four during the latest period. In addition, the retailer said it will complete 100 remodels of its larger locations before 2017 is over. Real estate aside, Target continues to grow its presence online — comparable digital channel sales rose 22 percent for the latest quarter, contributing 0.8 percentage points to overall same-store sales growth. "For digital shopping, the challenge is to make it more experiential, delivering more of the inspiration you can find in a physical store," Target's Mulligan told analysts and investors. When shoppers make purchases online they often are more focused on the items they need to buy and are less likely to make impulse purchases. Target is still trying to play catch-up with its online business. Big-box retail rival Wal-Mart has been bulking up its online operations by acquiring e-commerce platform Jet.com last year and recently rolling out free two-day shipping to compete with Amazon. Target has so far been on the sidelines as far as deals go. "You cannot deny the power of Amazon," Oliver Chen, a retail analyst for Cowen and Company, told CNBC during an interview. "It's a big war, and we do prefer Wal-Mart ... it's all about linking bricks and clicks." With the first quarter behind it, Cornell reaffirmed its expectation for a low-single digit decline in same-store sales this year. And while Target didn't update it outlook for its adjusted earnings per share, it did say that given the better-than-expected performance, the company expects there is an "increased probability" that it will finish the year above the midpoint of its earlier forecast. That forecast called for 2017 earnings to be between $3.80 and $4.20 per share. For the second quarter, Target said it also expects a low-single digit decline in comparable sales, and adjusted earnings per share of between 95 cents to $1.15.

  • Ann Taylor owner Ascena plunges more than 30% after hours

    Shares of Ascena Retail Group fell more than 30 percent in after-hours trading as the owner of Ann Taylor, Loft, Lane Bryant and other brands said it adjusted its second-half outlook to reflect worse-than-expected business conditions. In what's been a rough earnings season for retailers, Ascena said Wednesday that it expects third-quarter comparable store sales to decline 8 percent and for full-year comparable sales to decline between 6 percent and 7 percent. "Industry-wide traffic headwinds and a highly elevated promotional environment have persisted at levels significantly above our expectations, resulting in a miss to our third quarter sales and earnings outlook.," CEO David Jaffe said in a press release. The retailer also said it expects to book an impairment charge for the third quarter, although the company said it wasn't able to put a number on the size of the charge at this time. "The impact of the challenging retail environment, the decline in the Company's stock price, and the reduction in the Company's forecasted earnings represent impairment indicators which required the Company to test its goodwill and indefinite lived intangible assets for impairment during the third quarter," Ascena said in a press release. Ascena is also looking to beef up its cost-savings plan. The previous target was $150 million, but now it's looking for savings of $250 million to $300 million. The company now says it expects adjust per-share earnings of 4 cents to 6 cents for its fiscal third quarter, down from previous guidance of 7 cents to 12 cents EPS. For the fiscal year, Ascena said it expects adjusted earnings in a range of 10 cents to 15 cents a share, compared to its earlier guidance of adjusted EPS of 37 cents to 42 cents. As of Wednesday's close, shares of Ascena had fallen 54 percent year-to-date.

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