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Industry News - August 14th, 2008



Central Grocers Selects Lawson M3 Enterprise Management System 

Central Grocers selects Lawson M3 Enterprise Finance Management, Supply Chain Management, Customer Sales and Service, and Enterprise Performance Management Suites - along with Lawson System Foundation. The grocery wholesaler and distributor will use the enterprise software applications to help consolidate its financial, supply chain and distribution systems, enhance visibility and reporting, and create a strong technology platform for growth.

Central Grocers previously relied on several legacy business systems that lacked the reporting tools necessary to track and analyze data from its expanding operations. “As our business expands, we need a strong technology base that can help us capitalize on new growth opportunities," says Tim Kubis, chief financial officer, Central Grocers. “The Lawson system offers the functionality we need to help us improve the efficiency and accuracy of our business processes, which can ultimately help us make better, margin-impacting decisions."

Once implemented, the new Lawson system, which will run on an IBM System, which will help Central Grocers employees access and share financial and supply chain data from a single user interface. This will give managers greater visibility into the company's supplier network and merchandise lines, which will help the company optimize inventory levels and quickly respond to supplier needs. The Lawson system also helps the distributor standardize and automate its core business processes.

Central Grocers will partner with Lawson Professional Services and The Revere Group to implement and maintain the new Lawson system.


Tween Brands Unveils Plans to Convert Retail Stores to Justice Brand

Tween Brands announces that it will convert approximately 560 Limited Too stores across the country to its more value-oriented Justice brand to drive growth and profitability. Both brands sell fashion basics and lifestyle items to 7-14 year old girls. Upon completion of the conversion by the end of the first quarter of 2009, the Justice chain, which has 310 stores today and has averaged double-digit comparable store sales over the last 14 quarters, will have more than 900 stores nationwide. The company will no longer operate any Limited Too stores in the United States following the conversion, but will continue to sell Limited Too branded product at select Justice stores.

Tween Brands plans to close 26 underperforming Limited Too stores by the end of fiscal 2008 and monitor an additional 90 former Limited Too locations for possible off-mall relocation under the Justice brand. In a limited number of prior conversions from Limited Too, the new Justice stores have done equal or more volume, and in a few cases, significantly more.

"This is a bold strategy to capitalize on the tremendous success of Justice and the changing trends in our economy and our customers' preferences," said Tween Brands chairman and chief executive officer Mike Rayden. "Especially in these tough economic times, our customers are seeking the more value-oriented apparel available at Justice, which is priced on average approximately 20-25% lower than Limited Too."

Noting that the Limited Too brand was established in 1987, Rayden continued: "Limited Too was the brand that introduced great fashion to tween girls, but our customers are looking for the next great thing and their parents want more value for their dollar. We believe Justice fits that bill as evidenced by strong sales comps at Justice and weaker comps at Limited Too, including this quarter's results. In fact, from fiscal year 2005 to fiscal year 2007, overall net sales at Tween Brands have increased 34%, yet our operating income has increased only 2% due in large part to the significant investments we have made to differentiate Justice and Limited Too."

Rayden concluded, "We are financially sound. We have good liquidity and the right people to execute this transition. We believe this strategy will create value and excitement for our customers and enhance returns for our shareholders."


JCPenney Streamlines Product Development

JCPenney uses the PTC retail platform, FlexPLM to help streamline its product development processes by managing the company's product specifications. The department store uses the system to improve collaboration among its global design partners and help expedite overall design and manufacturing cycle times.

To keep up with consumer demand and fast fashion trends in the retail and apparel industry, JCPenney realized that it had to decrease the amount of time it takes to develop a new product line from several months down to a few weeks. To accomplish this objective, JCPenney launched its Cycle Time Reduction initiative, an enterprise-wide program focused on shortening the amount of time from conceptualization to merchandise delivery.

FlexPLM is a Web-based platform that streamlines communication, tracks milestones, pre-empts performance bottlenecks, and provides visibility throughout the product development chain.

"The ability to respond to customer needs quickly and deliver merchandise efficiently is critical to delivering on JCPenney's vision to be the preferred shopping choice for middle America," says Peter McGrath, executive vice president, production development and sourcing, JCPenney. "As an important enabler to our Cycle Time Reduction initiative, FlexPLM is a robust infrastructure that spans our global supply chain, enabling our Associates to collaborate more effectively and deliver merchandise that inspires our customers."

Throughout the last year, the IT team at JCPenney worked with PTC's solution and implementation team to define and maintain the project's scope across several functional groups in order to ensure the project was completed on time and on budget for the first three product divisions. This goal was achieved, and JCPenney is now planning to roll out the retail solution to oth


Wet Seal Selects Oracle Retail Applications to Improve Customer Insight

The Wet Seal selects Oracle Retail merchandising, optimization and stores applications to help increase profitability through more effective pricing and inventory management. Wet Seal will use the Oracle Retail applications to streamline the point-of-service experience and deliver better customer insight to merchants and managers charged with executing price markdowns, promotions and inventory management.

The Oracle Retail applications are part of the company's strategy to streamline business processes and expand as it serves a base of 13- to 35-year old female consumers seeking affordable fashion apparel and accessories. Wet Seal expects the Oracle Retail applications will help to gain better visibility into customer demand and the impact of price points on inventory levels and gross margin performance.

The retailer chose Oracle because the applications met their requirements for pricing and point-of-service functionality, as well as the ability to leverage existing IT investments and scale as the company grows. Wet Seal is scheduled to implement Oracle Retail Merchandising System, Oracle Retail Price Optimization and Oracle Retail Point-of-Service.

"In this competitive retail environment, it is important for us to provide our customers a balance of affordability and fashion in our apparel and accessories lines," says Ed Thomas, president and CEO of The Wet Seal. "We expect the Oracle Retail applications will help support our efforts."

"The Oracle Retail applications will improve the customer experience at the point of service while creating a platform that enables us to streamline business processes and enhance merchandising decision-support throughout our organization," says Jon Kubo, CIO of The Wet Seal.


JDA Announces Intentions to Acquire i2 Technologies

JDA Software Group, which makes software for retailers and manufacturers, announces its plans to acquire i2 Technologies, which makes supply-chain management software. Scottsdale, Arizona-based JDA said the acquisition adds discrete manufacturing to its manufacturing offerings and strengthens its retail presence.

The combination of the two companies creates a global leader in the supply chain planning and optimization market and strengthens JDA's market position with more than 6,000 customers. The i2 acquisition also boosts JDA's supply chain planning and optimization market.

By combining JDA and i2, the resulting company will have significantly improved operating leverage and a strong financial position. As a result of the pending Merger, i2 is withdrawing its previously provided outlook for third quarter 2008.


Skiwear Outfitter Spyder Chooses Streamlines Retail Operations

Spyder Active Sports selects the Epicor Retail Software as a Service (SaaS) platform to streamline its retail operations and support future expansion. The retailer is using the SaaS offering, which includes Epicor Retail's store, merchandising, planning, audit and operations management, CRM and business intelligence platforms directly to store locations and the head office, via high-speed networks. Epicor hosts the software on secure servers, supplies and installs all hardware, software and infrastructure, and provides round-the-clock data security, backups and system maintenance. The SaaS offering also includes ongoing updates to the latest Epicor Retail software releases.

"Epicor offers a tremendous value proposition for small to medium retailers such as Spyder," said Kevin Smith, chief information officer for Spyder. "With Epicor, we can have an end-to-end integrated solution that offers best-of-breed capabilities the likes of which are used by large retailers, with minimal up-front cost and turnkey service and support - everything from help desk to infrastructure and application development. This basically eliminates all of the traditional barriers to entry for small to midmarket retailers.

"It's not easy for a wholesaler to go to a direct sale model," Smith said of the company's move in recent years to open up its own stores. "We wanted to make this transition properly, ensuring that we can meet and exceed the needs of our customers when it comes to quality, value, selection and customer service."

And Smith cites yet another reason Spyder chose the Epicor Retail SaaS solution: to establish the right IT infrastructure to support the company's future operations, should they opt to leverage Cloudveil's e-commerce channel or build one for Spyder. "If we move in this direction in the future, our Epicor Retail SaaS framework will enable us to support a seamless consistent experience across all of our channels - so customers could shop online and return to the local store, or shop online and have their merchandise delivered to their home or available for pick up in store." Smith also added Epicor's multilingual and multicurrency support is a plus, as the company has a global presence.


Susser Holdings Expands Use of Pricing Platform to Manage Fuel Prices

Susser Holdings selects KSS PriceNet, including its remote access modules known as PriceNet Mobile and PriceNet Web.

Susser Holdings uses PriceNet to help manage fuel prices at its 500-plus retail facilities throughout Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma. In addition to streamlining the headquarters fuels pricing process to respond quickly to increasing costs and price volatility, the PriceNet Mobile and Web modules helps allow field-based personnel to report pricing events as they occur, and quickly receive price updates and other key performance data.

Following the recent acquisition of Town and Country Food Stores, an existing KSS customer at that time, Susser Holdings chose to expand the use of KSS PriceNet.

"KSS' track record at Town and Country convinced us of the business value that PriceNet can bring to our fuels pricing operations in supporting our mission of delivering quality fuels at competitive prices, combined with fast, friendly service," says Craig Scotton, director of fuels for Susser Holdings.


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