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Industry News - July 2nd 2010



IBM Opens Largest Software Development Lab in North America

IBM recently announced it has opened the doors of the IBM Mass Lab - IBM's largest software development Lab in North America. The IBM Mass Lab, a campus comprised of sites in Littleton and Westford, Massachusetts, brings together 3,400 of IBM's experts to design and develop solutions to respond to customers' computing challenges. 

The IBM Mass Lab is creating software that manages some of the world's most complex process and infrastructure problems such as modernizing and automating the world's physical infrastructures -- from railroads, water management, food traceability and healthcare modernization. Much of the demand for software is being created by the need to automate and modernize virtually systems such as electronic medical records, fraud detection and energy management through smart grids. 

IBM says the IBM Mass Lab is also developing software for the new era of enterprise mobile computing for more effective collaboration and integration to support an increasingly mobile workforce, as "the explosion and sophistication of devices have generated a mountain of data, countless transactions, and increased complexity leading to a convergence of IT and mobility."
"IBM views Massachusetts as an innovation hotbed," said Steve Mills, senior vice president and group executive, IBM Software. "Through the new, state-of-the-art IBM Mass Lab, IBM is committed to nurturing the human talent and economic strengths of the growing Massachusetts tech hub. The IBM Mass Lab is a critical component of our growth strategy for the state of Massachusetts."


Walmart Unveils Urban Expansion Plans

The nation's top big box retailer is setting up shop is some of the nation's busiest cities in an attempt to drive sales. Walmart's latest move indicates the retailer is breaking away from expansion in suburban and rural markets, which in recent years has provided exhausted growth potential.

The retailer's first urban venture will open in Chicago. If proven successful, the retailer revealsthe possibility of opening several hundred stores in other major city hubs including New York, Chicago and Detroit, which could translate into several hundred million dollars in additional earnings.

Walmart's new urban store layout will be trial-size. Stores may be as small as 8,000 square feet, about 4 percent of the size of an average supercenter. Urban store formats will accommodate groceries, stores where customers can order something online and pick it up, stores where local business owners can lease space, and even formats like bodegas.


F.Y.E. Rolls Out "Conversation-Centric” Social Media Platform

F.Y.E. selects Media Logic for its "conversation-centric" marketing and social media program. 
The program will connect all the F.Y.E. stores and products using an innovative Web site that features social media functionality and allows fans to interact in real-time. 

For instance, the new Web site might simultaneously stream a concert from a store in the Seattle area, an autograph signing from another store in Chicago and post fan photos taken at an F.Y.E.-sponsored event in Philadelphia. Fans will be able to not only watch what is going on but also participate and share their activity on multiple social networks.

"Media Logic's track record demonstrates that they clearly understand the dynamics of modern marketing and the power of social media in particular," says Barry Burmaster, director of marketing, visual merchandising, CRM and fye.com at F.Y.E. "Together, we have designed a unique social marketing program that we believe will enhance our overall brand, strengthen our relationship with consumers and drive sales."


Nike Reports Record $2.5B in Sales for Direct-to-Consumer

Nike reports substantial growth for its online business which grew to a record $260 million in revenue in its most recent quarter, which is up 25 percent for the year. The brand's latest initiative which has helped spur growth at the popular athletics brand include NIKEiD, the brand's online custom-design app, which surpassed $100 million for the first time.

The retailer also reported revenue from direct-to-consumer, Nike-owned stores and online business increased 12 percent to a record $2.5 billion.

Nike also reveals that in the near-term is plans to build out new retail experiences both in-store and online. According to Charlie Denson, president, Nike, the retailer plans to "start to leverage the Inc. portfolio, something only Nike can do. That's how we bring categories to life and it's an incredibly powerful source of separation for Nike."


Bed, Bath & Beyond Invests $225M on Tech, Store Refresh

Bed, Bath & Beyond announces plans to spend $225 million on IT, new store openings and a store refresh initiative. The retailer plans to open approximately 55 to 60 stores across all of its concepts in fiscal 2010. 

"Capital expenditures for fiscal 2010, principally for new stores, existing store refurbishment, information technology enhancements and other projects are currently planned at approximately $225 million," said Steven Temares, CEO, Bed, Bath & Beyond. 

The retailer announced that capital spending during the fiscal first quarter 2010 was approximately $39 million, primarily for new stores, existing store improvements, information technology enhancements and other projects.

"We continue to work to increase the productivity of our existing stores by evolving the merchandize offerings, as well as by expanding, renovating, remodeling and/or relocating stores to enhance our customers' shopping experience," said Leonard Feinstein, Co-Chairman, Bed, Bath & Beyond.


The Wet Seal Launches “Blink” Denim Pop-Up Concept

The Wet Seal debuts its new "Blink" concept, a denim focused pop-up store located at The Galleria at Tyler in Riverside, California. Blink will carry the latest trends in denim which will operate throughout the holiday season. 

A 1,600 square-foot store, Blink will feature the latest trends in denim, with a small assortment of fashion tops and accessories. Denim will be available in a multitude of styles from various fashion brands, and will be complemented by Wet Seal's core denim program, Blue Asphalt. 

"The pop-up store concept has long been of interest to us, but we needed the right location to present itself," said Ed Thomas, CEO, The Wet Seal. "Given Wet Seal stores are already a denim destination, we feel Blink provides the perfect opportunity to test an expanded denim assortment in a temporary environment." 

Each of the store associates has been trained on the features and fits of each of the denim styles and brands. Working under the “Denim Expert" title, each associate will be able to offer a high level of service and product knowledge. 

Blink will host a grand opening celebration Saturday, July 3rd, 2010, with live music and give away prizes to anyone that comes by and spins the Blink prize wheel. Prizes will include free denim, tees, sunglasses and gift cards as well as several other offers, including an appointment with a Denim Expert.


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