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Industry News - October 16th, 2009



Fresh & Easy Expected to Lose $259 Million

Tesco, the British parent of Fresh & Easy, announced last week that its American division will lose about $259 million this year, or about $2 million for each of its stores. Despite an impressive launch in the United States more than a year ago and ambitious plans to take on rivals from Whole Foods and Walmart, the chain has yet to prove profitable.

The chain continues to struggle with the overhead of a large infrastructure designed to support hundreds of stores and a price war in the supermarket industry.

Additionally, 70 Fresh & Easy stores are located in Southern California, a region that has been severely hurt by the recession. Fresh & Easy stores in Phoenix and Las Vegas are equally plagued by the effects of the recession in these cities.

Chief Executive Terry Leahy notes, "We have been making good progress in developing the Fresh & Easy business, despite the prolonged weakness in the California, Nevada and Arizona economies."

Though the losses are steep, Tesco is profiting its other divisions. The company's revenue rose 9.3 percent to $44.3 billion during its most recent six-month period.


Macy’s Latest Green Initiative Cuts Transportation Costs

Macy's is realizing both financial and environmental gains from VICS Empty Miles Service. The department store, which is committed to improving sustainability at every level, has experienced an increase of 30 backhaul loads per week, or a projected 1,500 loads per year, at competitive market rates since using the service. In addition, for each initial lane opened, Macy's has reduced annualized transportation costs on average, by $25,000.

VICS Empty Miles Service matches a company's trailers that are returning empty with another company's potential loads that can be collected and delivered along the return route.

"We've engaged in many different initiatives for sustainability, but Empty Miles has really been in the forefront by providing us with tangible results," said Bill Connell, Executive Vice President of Logistics, Macy's.


Talbots Adds Security to Protect Mainframe Data

Talbots reduces security risks and meets SOX, PCI and other regulatory compliance requirements with Vanguard Security Solutions. Talbots added Vanguard software to streamline the security administration and management of Talbot's data, which is housed on its mainframe systems.

"Vanguard software has all the features we were looking for at an affordable price, and is much more intuitive and easier to work with than the security software we were previously using," says Bart Gundersen, manager software services at Talbots. "The excellent reporting capabilities in Vanguard's solutions, including the ability to generate ad hoc reports for auditors, will be a big time saver for our security administrators and allow them to provide better information to management."

Talbots will deploy Vanguard Administrator, Vanguard Advisor and Vanguard Enforcer.

Vanguard Administrator offers security administration capabilities to help simplify and enhance security management functions on systems running IBM Security Server (RACF).

Vanguard Advisor provides comprehensive event detection, analysis and reporting capabilities for the mainframe environment, which helps administrators or analysts find and fix potential security problems.

Vanguard Enforcer, an intrusion management solution, protects critical data and resources by helping ensure that security and compliance standards, policies, rules and settings are enforced and breaches are prevented.


Ten Thousand Villages Improves Operations with SAP POS Applications

Ten Thousand Villages uses retail solutions from SAP including SAP POS application to manage pricing, payments, promotions and returns. Ten Thousand Villages operates a network of retail stores in North America, and a Web site that offers a sustainable marketplace for handmade products from developing nations.

The need for improved data security prompted Ten Thousand Villages, an SAP customer since 2002, to upgrade to the latest version of SAP POS. The application encrypts customer data for storage in the company's database and transaction files, which helps Ten Thousand Villages maintain compliance with the data security standards of the credit card industry. SAP POS protects customer data and helps improve the processing speed of sale transactions, enhancing the overall shopper experience.

"SAP offers a flexible and reliable point-of-sale solution that will grow with us to protect our customers' information and address our changing business needs," said J. Leonard Wolf, information technology director, Ten Thousand Villages. "Our staff and volunteers are passionate about our products and the people-driven mission behind them. With SAP software in place, they can spend their time welcoming customers and selling products that support our artisans instead of worrying about store operations."


Family Dollar Invests $58 Million in Technology Upgrades

Family Dollar has invested $58 million in technology related projects this past year which includes its major Project Accelerate imitative and plans to upgrade its POS systems across all of its stores in order to support an expanded selection of payment options.

According to Howard R. Levine, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Family Dollar, "The completion of the point-of-sale refresh this year will increase the convenience of our checkout processes as it supports an expanded selection of payment choices. In addition to supporting food stamps as a form of tender, our new point-of-sale technology also enables us to accept credit cards. And while cash remains the tender type preferred by our customers, debit cards, credit cards and food stamps are becoming a larger part of our payment mix."

Family Dollar also is focused on improving the shopability of more than 3,500 stores through the realignment of selling space to support an expanded assortment of consumables. The chain has increased the appeal of these stores through improved signage and more intuitive merchandise adjacencies.

"The investments we have made as part of our Project Accelerate have provided us with greater visibility in store planning, assortment and pricing capabilities as we have lowered inventory risk, increased inventory turns and improved gross margin return on inventory," says Levine.

To further improve gross margin in inventory activity, this year Family Dollar intends to expand its private label offering, enhance global sourcing capabilities and make additional investments to strengthen its pricing efforts.


Styles For Less Upgrades POS and Back-Office Infrastructure

Styles For Less uses Epicor Retail software suite to support chain expansion, streamline operations and strengthen processes around industry requirements and mandates. To support upcoming plans for expansion, and to address business requirements such as PCI compliance, Styles For Less sought to update its retail Point-of-Sale and back office infrastructure. Styles For Less selected the Epicor Retail software suite, which includes the following:

-Epicor Retail Store: Provides point-of-sale (POS), returns management, data exchange and configuration tools functionality, along with Epicor Retail Mobile Store to support wireless devices for extending store processes beyond the register and workstation.

- Epicor Retail Merchandising: Streamlines operations, unifies asset management, and manages business.

- Epicor Warehouse Management: Ensures merchandise quickly flows from receiving through distribution to store shelves to optimize productivity, streamline operations and reduce stock-outs.

- Epicor Retail Planning: Links financial plans, assortment plans, buying plans and individual store plans - and combines Merchandise Planning and Assortment Planning with visual tools to identify what's needed at both the chain and store level.

- Epicor Audit and Operations Management: Designed for multi-channel retailers, the solution accepts transaction data from any channel (POS, kiosk, Web or catalog), centralizes and verifies it for anomalies, and then feeds the clean and accurate data to the retailer's downstream systems. The module includes Sales Audit, Loss Prevention, Voucher Management, and Employee Productivity and Commission components.

- Epicor Retail CRM: Provides a 360-degree view of the customer including a broad set of complementary tools to build and manage loyalty programs, execute and manage campaigns and promotions, analyze customer databases and transaction information across sales channels, segment and manage lists, and analyze and measure the impact of CRM efforts. 

- Epicor Financial Management: A suite of financial applications for the global enterprise that enables organizations to operate efficiently, comply with fiscal regulations, underpin strong corporate governance and drive performance.

Under the agreement, Styles For Less will also leverage Epicor Retail Services for system configuration, implementation and training, as well as new IBM and DigiPOS hardware. The company plans to pilot the project in October 2009, followed by a six-month rollout beginning in January 2010 to its corporate headquarters and all 120 store locations.

"Among our key criteria during the selection process was to find a partner that could help us address compliance requirements today while supporting our plans for expansion tomorrow," said Augie DeAngelo, executive vice president and CFO, Styles For Less. "We are confident the automation built into every Epicor module will increase efficiencies as we continue to expand our chain. Epicor gives us the ability to make retail decisions faster, smarter and better without the need for extra resources."


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