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Industry News - March 23Rd 2014



Retailers Plan for Surge in Consumer Spending

Importers who sell to America's major retailers are preapring for a significant uptick in consumer spending this spring and summer, according to a recent survey conducted by Capital Business Credit (CBC), a non-bank lender that services the retail sector.

According to CBC's quarterly survey, 43.2 percent of respondents believe that the 2014 spring season will be stronger than 2011, and 40 percent believe that the 2014 summer season wil surpass last year's sales. Less than 20 percent of respondents believe spring and summer retail sales will decline year over year. The remaining 40 percent believe spring and summer retail sales will at least remain the same.

"Retailers have played it very close to the vest for the past several years, feaful of overstocking the shelves," says Andrew Tananbaum, executive chairman of CBC. "As consumers begin to open their pocketbooks again, importers and maunufacturers are finally beginning to see increases in orders and re-orders."

Tannanbaum cautions that while sales may go up retailers will need to work hard to avoid relying on heavy discounting to move merchandise. However, he concludes, "These numbers are very encouraging for the overall state of the consuer-driven economy. This is the first time in nearly three years that the importers we work with are manufacturing more than they did last year and are planning on having to restock shelves."

Amazon.com Acquires Kiva Systems for $775M

Amazon.com has announced that it will acquire Kiva Systems, material handling technology. Under the agreement, Amazon will acquire all shares of Kiva for approximately $775 million in cash and will close in the second quarter of 2014.
"Amazon has long used automation in its fulfillment centers, and Kiva's technology is another way to improve productivity by bringing the products directly to employees to pick, pack and stow," said Dave Clark, vice president of global customer fulfillment for Amazon.com. "Kiva shares our passion for invention, and we look forward to supporting their continued growth."

Franchise Improves Management of Time and Resources with New Software

La Madeleine Country French Café has implemented the latest software from TimeManagement Corporation throughout 60 locations across the United States. TMx solutions include performance-based scheduling, dynamic labor forecasting, embedded workflows for human resources, employee self-service, multiple time capture solutions and seamless integration to numerous POS, PMS, inventory and payroll systems.
This particular rollout differed from any other for la Madeleine because of the one month time frame given to the team to complete the project from start to finish. All 60 cafés had to go live with the upgrade on December 28th 2011. This requirement was due to la Madeleine’s need to change its fiscal calendar and the day in which its workweek starts.

This upgrade provided many new features including integration to Agilysys Eatec Inventory Management solution which is one of the most exciting for the la Madeleine team. In addition to the new features la Madeleine will be evaluating some long standing TMx features that they now are ready to implement.


Restaurant Ensures Quality with Kitchen Tech

Cameron Mitchell Restaurants is benefitting from QSR’s ConnectSmart Kitchen (CSK) graphical kitchen display software in its Ocean Prime fine dining restaurant concepts and Rusty Bucket Restaurant and Tavern casual dining restaurants. Cameron Mitchell’s selected kitchen management software and hardware solution also includes QSR's reliable eXpert controllers, keypads, and brackets. Already installed in all Rusty Bucket locations as well as Cameron Mitchell’s Cap City Fine Diner and Bar location, implementation within all eight of the Ocean Prime restaurants will complete in the coming months. 
With an average of 250 covers per night and more than 500 covers on a peak night, the Ocean Prime restaurants have historically relied on chefs with 10 years of experience to masterfully manage the expeditor position so that all food comes up together. The CSK eliminates loud communication and unorganized printer chits, reducing noise and angst in the kitchen, which is truly important in open kitchen environments like the Ocean Prime restaurants. With the CSK, each item from an order is displayed at the specific kitchen station responsible for preparing that item based on the cook times of all items that are part of the order. At the order display station, the expeditor knows with a glance the status of each item and order. The CSK ensures that all of the items, with different cook times and prepared at different kitchen stations, are completed at the same time and properly plated so that guests receive their meals together, hot and fresh. 
In addition to the efficiency and quality benefits, the CSK gives restaurant managers easy access to production data and speed of service metrics. For instance, Rusty Bucket managers can compare the kitchen data to labor data to identify highly effective team members or those who may need additional training.


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