April 29, 2009

April 27, 2009

Best Buy Expands Private-Label Brands - WSJ.com

Best Buy Co. is rapidly expanding its private-label electronics
business in a gamble to gain a key competitive advantage over rivals
such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Amazon.com Inc.


April 26, 2009

tgonline sent you a video: "Lady GaGa- Just Dance at House of Blues Chicago"

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Lady Gaga as brand

How much control over her brand does she have? In this environment quite a lot - but watch the video and notice the number of screens in the crowd.

How connected and disconnected are we?
© 2009 YouTube, LLC

April 22, 2009

Upscale vending machine sells curated luxury goods - Springwise

U*tique bills itself as the world's first interactive, automated
luxury store for "life's little emergencies and indulgences."
Currently debuting at Los Angeles retailer Fred Segal, U*tique lets
consumers learn about select luxury and personal-care products and
have them conveniently dispensed to them with a swipe of the credit


(BN) Credit Suisse Rescues City Harvest Gala After Wall Street Donor Drops Out

Credit Suisse Rescues City Harvest as Wall Street Donor Quits

April 22 (Bloomberg) -- When a leading Wall Street donor pulled out on City Harvest recently, the New York food charity was left short of funds to pay for its spring gala tonight.

"It was definitely a hurdle for us," said Patricia Barrick, vice president of external relations for City Harvest, which channels unused restaurant food to the hungry. Then Credit Suisse stepped in.

Grace J. Koo, the head of the Swiss bank's equities division and a City Harvest board member, helped organize a conference call with the trustees of the Credit Suisse Americas Foundation, which funds education and programs that help inner- city youth.

The 14-member board, which gave $100,000 to the charity last year, kicked in a further $150,000 after taking a hard look at the nonprofit.

"First we considered the nature of the organization's work and clientele, and where does it rank in order of meeting true, basic needs," Koo said in a phone interview. "Next we asked, 'What is the quality of the organization and its management, and have they been good financial stewards especially in this environment?' I was impressed with their fiscal prudence."

The gift will cover more than half the costs of tonight's gala, including dinner of roast filet of beef and black cod for about 500 guests. Actor David Arquette will host the event, which includes a live and silent auction and seeks to raise $1.4 million. Matchbox Twenty vocalist Rob Thomas and film composer Marc Shaiman ("Hairspray") will perform after dinner.

'Fighting Hunger'

The gala will honor firms and individuals who have made an "extraordinary commitment to fighting hunger," Barrick said. They include Credit Suisse, American Express Co., clothier DKNY, and Eric Ripert, chef and owner of the three-Michelin-star Le Bernardin in New York.

Credit Suisse's support will cover the gala dinner costs, with other costs covered by the event's co-chairmen and the nonprofit's board, so that all ticket sales and individual donations go to the organization's $15 million food-distribution program. Founded in 1982, the charity feeds about 260,000 New Yorkers a week. City Harvest collects about 23 million pounds of excess food from restaurant, grocers, corporate challenges and farms and gives it to 600 community food programs and food banks.

"You tend to focus on the higher order of needs, and food and hunger are at the top," said Eric Eckholdt, executive director of the bank's foundation, said in a phone interview. "It was the first one of these ad hoc requests we had received since the downturn in the economy that I thought was worth serious consideration."

At a time when nonprofits are scaling down galas, City Harvest still opted to hold the $125,000 dinner at Cipriani 42nd Street, one of Manhattan's elite event spaces, Barrick said.

Sharing Costs

To trim the event's expenses by about 20 percent, the charity shared the cost of the flowers, d├ęcor and audio-visual effects with the Food Allergy Initiative, which is hosting a benefit luncheon today.

"We could hold a gala, or we could cancel entirely, which we really didn't feel was fiscally prudent," City Harvest Executive Director Jilly Stephens said in an interview. "We felt this was an opportunity to gather our donors and celebrate with a toned-down event, and this was the middle ground."

City Harvest's "An Evening of Practical Magic" is tonight at Cipriani 42nd Street, 110 E. 42nd St. Tickets are $750 to $2,500 and $10,000 to $50,000 for a table. Information: +1-917- 351-8778 or http://www.cityharvest.org/ .

To contact the writer on this story: Patrick Cole in New York at pcole3@Bloomberg.net .

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April 20, 2009

Pop-Up Stores Come to College Campuses

Sportswear brand Original Penguin will join in an effort to bring pop-
up retail stores to 20 college campuses this month and next, in a
pitch tied to a charitable cause and designed to highlight an array of
fashion apparel.


Zappos Map

Watching this can be hypnotizing - but also very interesting from a
consumer behavior perspective


April 11, 2009

Mondrian South Beach

Hotel chain sells cars, electronics by machine


Sales of Luxury Goods Seen Falling by 10% - WSJ.com

The forecast, to be released Tuesday by consultants Bain & Co., widens
the decline that Bain had forecast just five months ago. Last October,
it predicted a 7% world-wide sales drop, citing the economic downturn.


April 9, 2009

Giant Food Stores Opens First Giant To Go C-store

Is this Giant getting ahead of Tesco and their Fresh N' Easy format on
the east coast?


Kroger Joins Group In 'Bread Art Project' Promo 04/09/2009

Hoping to build on the online savvy of Gen X and Gen Y moms, the Grain
Foods Foundation (GFF) and Kroger are partnering on a fund-raising
effort called Bread Art Project.


April 8, 2009

Customised magazine from Lexus, Time & American Express - Springwise

Much like the build-your-own-magazine concept from HSBC that we
covered last year, a brand-new initiative from Lexus, Time and
American Express Publishing is giving consumers a new way to create
their own personalised magazine.


Consumers get paid for promoting products they love - Springwise

Consumers frustrated by products with problems already have RedesignMe
to share—and get paid for—their ideas on improving them. Now, on the
flip side of the coin, there's Hollrr, a site that lets users help
promote the products they love.


E-mail signatures with a fund-raising twist - Springwise

If e-mail signatures can be put to work to help support a political
candidate, just imagine the impact they could make for charity. That's
essentially the rationale behind Replyforall, a site that uses custom
e-mail signatures to raise not just awareness but cold, hard cash for
a select group of charitable causes.


Free video lectures by top scholars - Springwise

Video instruction is something we've recently seen applied to music,
golf and cricket. Now, through Academic Earth, it's being brought—for
free—to virtually every scholarly topic under the sun.


InterContinental hotels get staff to share mates' rates - Springwise

It goes without saying that higher sales and staff motivation have
always been good for business. Currently merging the two is
InterContinental Hotels Group with its new 'Friends and Family'
programme, turning 330,000 staff members into customers, advocates and
media outlets....


Recession Fueling These Cheap Eats - Consumer Nation - CNBC.com

Many people think of food manufacturers as recession-proof, but a
report out today from Mintel Reports shows that some food categories
are recession-fueled.


April 7, 2009

Ralcorp, Gilster-Mary Lee behind the private labels - St. Louis Business Journal:

Most grocery shoppers have never heard of Ralcorp Holdings Inc. or
Gilster-Mary Lee Corp., but chances are better than ever they've
bought their products.


FT.com / UK - Coca-Cola sees health benefits in Innocent stake

Innocent, the smoothie drinks group set up by student friends a decade
ago, is to sell a minority stake for £30m to Coca-Cola to fund
expansion across Europe.


Advertising - In Trying Times, Nostalgia Returns - NYTimes.com

IF music hath charm to soothe the savage breast, what can calm worried
consumers during an economic crisis? Madison Avenue believes one
answer is nostalgia.


April 6, 2009

The Latest From "Bear In The Woods" - Townhall.com::Blog

Commentary on big organizations and social media


I want to try this! (BN) Coca-Cola's 12O-Jet Soda Dispenser May Drive Sales in $72.7 Billion Market

Coca-Cola Seeks Edge With 120-Drink Jet Fountain

April 6 (Bloomberg) -- Coca-Cola Co. is using micro-dosing technology from drugmakers, a smart phone operating system from Microsoft Corp. and style tips from Italian auto designers in its latest attempt to revive falling sales of fountain drinks.

Coca-Cola spent four years developing a self-serve beverage dispenser that can pour as many as 120 drinks. It uses 40 percent less storage space than traditional six- or eight-tap fountains, said Gene Farrell, the project's manager.

Code-named "Jet," the company will test the touch-screen- operated fountain in fewer than 10 Atlanta restaurants starting this month and another 70 or more in Southern California during the summer. The company declined to say where the expanded trials would take place or whether any Jets have been sold.

Coca-Cola is betting a larger variety of beverages, including Orange Coke, Powerade and Minute Maid juice, will lure fast-food consumers back to buying drinks with their hamburgers. People even may pay more for greater choice and a better tasting, colder beverage, Farrell said.

"The way you grow profit for everybody is, you grow the size of the pie," he said. "When there's new growth, there's opportunity for everyone."

Fountain sales for Coca-Cola, which controls 70 percent of the U.S. market and is the exclusive supplier to McDonald's Corp., have not "grown as robustly as we would have liked," Farrell said.

Industry volume sales for U.S. fountain drinks probably fell more than 3 percent last year, after a 1.3 percent drop in 2007, according to John Sicher, publisher of Beverage Digest newsletter. He estimates the overall soft-drink market, including fountain, at $72.7 billion.

Fountain Sales

Coca-Cola sells concentrated beverage syrup to restaurants, convenience stores and entertainment venues to be mixed at the fountain with water, carbon dioxide and high-fructose corn syrup sweetener.

Fountain sales account for about 30 percent of revenue and profit in North America, according to Farrell. That would equate to roughly 8 percent of Coca-Cola's $31.9 billion in global revenue last year. The drinks have helped the world's largest soda-maker maintain its lead over No. 2 PepsiCo Inc.

Coca-Cola's stock is little changed this year, compared with a 3.8 percent drop for Pepsi. Coca-Cola shares rose 2 cents to $44.99 at 4 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading.

Jet is the product of more than 20 patents and hundreds of confidentiality agreements.

'Top of Its Game'

"It shows that Coke is really on top of its game," said Philip Gorham, an analyst for Morningstar Inc., a Chicago-based investment-information company. "They have momentum."

The drink mix inside the Jet is Coca-Cola's most concentrated ever, Farrell said. The 46-ounce cartridges produce nearly as much drink as the five-gallon cardboard-encased concentrate bags now found in back rooms of restaurants.

The concentrate is dispensed with technology adapted from medical equipment used to measure precise amounts of dialysis and cancer drugs. The fountain's software runs on Microsoft Windows CE, an off-the-shelf computer operating system used in advanced mobile phones.

The curvy fountains come in red, black or silver and carry the familiar white Coca-Cola ribbon. The company settled on the look after consulting with two high-end Italian car designers suggested by Chief Executive Muhtar Kent because of their ability to find "passion in big, boxy things," Farrell said. The development team also included a former Apple Inc. designer who worked on the iPod.

Getting Customers

Coca-Cola won't disclose what it has spent to reinvent its fountain unit or how much the units cost to produce. One clue: The development team has grown from seven full-time employees to 50, with another 50 employees contributing time.

Coca-Cola first will target existing customers, some of whom have helped guide and test the fountain, Farrell said.

Danya Proud, a spokeswoman for McDonalds, said it would be premature to discuss what future role, if any, the equipment would play in the fast-food chain's restaurants.

Gorham, the Morningstar analyst, said he is skeptical the device will boost drink consumption unless Coca-Cola can convert Pepsi-exclusive restaurants.

"This is a cat-and-mouse game and there's not much about those dispensers that Pepsi couldn't replicate themselves," he said.

Gorham saw the machine in February when Coca-Cola displayed it during the Consumer Analyst Group of New York conference. He predicted the Jet's single spigot and panoply of brands may slow customer lines and hurt sales in busy restaurants.

'Cents and Sense'

In testing, the average time it took a customer to pour a drink on a legacy machine was 15 to 17 seconds, Farrell said. A first-time Jet user took 22 to 27 seconds. Refills took 12 to 17 seconds, he said.

When asked about the Jet system, PepsiCo spokesman Larry Jabbonsky said his company answers "to our consumers, not our competitors."

"We're constantly looking into new ways to offer variety and value but it has to make cents and sense," he said.

Jet's capacity will allow Coca-Cola to get new drinks into restaurants faster, Farrell said. Coke Zero, which the company says is its most successful new product since Diet Coke, still is on a fraction of its fountains almost four years after it was introduced.

Tracking Sales

The Jet follows Coca-Cola's "Bevariety" fountain dispenser, introduced almost two years ago. Jet's operating system is a key advancement over Bevariety because it can track sales by the drink and hour, Farrell said.

During the machine's only public test, at a Willy's Mexicana Grill in Atlanta, Coca-Cola discovered caffeine-free Diet Coke was popular late in the day. While sales didn't justify its placement on an eight-tap fountain, the brand was easily included on the Jet, capturing potentially lost sales, Farrell said. Beverage revenue increased 10 percent to 20 percent, according to the restaurant.

"It definitely showed some potential," Willy Bitter, owner of the 19-outlet Georgia chain, said through a spokeswoman. "Being that it was tested in just one of our stores, it would be hard to predict how it would perform over our entire system."

To contact the reporter on this story: Duane D. Stanford in Atlanta dstanford2@bloomberg.net .

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(BN) Prada May Reorganize $1.6 Billion Debt to Fund New Stores as Sales Suffer

Prada May Reorganize Debt to Fund New Stores as Sales Suffer

April 2 (Bloomberg) -- Prada SpA's owners may ask banks to reorganize 1.2 billion euros ($1.6 billion) of debt, freeing cash to open new stores and promote the luxury label's brands in the recession, two people with knowledge of the plans said.

Sales at stores open at least a year fell in 2008, reducing Prada's cash on hand, while earnings declined as fixed costs rose, the people said. The Milan-based company may ask for some debt payment deadlines to be extended, they said, asking not to be identified because the plans are confidential.

Prada, which has fewer outlets worldwide than Gucci and Louis Vuitton, may also raise its total debt level to take advantage of opportunities to expand, the people said. Prada attempted to raise funds through an initial public offering last year, which was postponed after markets slumped. The debt reorganization would be led by Prada's main lenders, Intesa Sanpaolo SpA and Unicredit SpA, the people said.

"For the luxury brands that have the financial means to expand, the recession is a good opportunity, since asset prices are so low," said Paolo Leschiutta, a Milan-based analyst at Moody's Investors Service.

Prada's total sales were little changed in 2008, helped by contributions from new stores, the people said, though profit before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization declined. The company hasn't reported figures for the fiscal year, which ended on Jan. 31.

The people said the debt is about evenly split between Prada Holding BV and Prada SpA, the operating company. Prada Holding has about 100 million euros of debt coming due this summer and may seek changes at that time, they said. A spokesman for Prada declined to comment.

Interest Margins

Prada, which is controlled by Chief Executive Officer Patrizio Bertelli, his wife Miuccia Prada and her family, has opened about 20 shops in the past year, including outlets in London, San Francisco and Kuala Lumpur.

Banks may benefit when companies pay higher interest margins to reorganize their debt. Officials at Unicredit declined to comment. A spokesman for Intesa, which holds a 5 percent equity stake in Prada SpA, said the bank doesn't comment on its clients' transactions.

Luxury labels are taking different approaches to expansion as a five-year industry boom crumbles, depending on their access to cash. Kelly bag maker Hermes International SCA vows to open or refurbish 20 stores in 2009, while jeweler Bulgari SpA has put new stores on hold and will close some outlets. Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Luca Solca forecasts the industry's sales will fall as much as 15 percent this year.

"Unlike in previous recessions, luxury brands are contracting, though the biggest names are suffering less," Moody's Leschiutta said.

Koolhaas Space

Prada's other labels include Miu Miu fashions and Church's shoes. To raise the brand's profile, Prada is building an exhibition space in Seoul, designed by architect Rem Koolhaas, that can be flipped by cranes to change shape for new events.

The company had 210 stores as of the end of 2007, the most recent period for which figures have been released. That trails Gucci's 258 outlets and Vuitton's 430.

Prada Holding has about 300 million euros of loans maturing next year, the people said. Prada SpA's debt, meanwhile, has increased from its reported 507 million-euro level at the end of 2007, the people said.

Executive Vice Chairman Carlo Mazzi said March 23 that Prada SpA isn't breaching debt covenants and is unconcerned about its borrowing levels. Prada SpA doesn't have any payments due until the end of 2010, he said.

Prada, which was founded by head designer Miuccia Prada's grandfather Mario Prada in 1913, still operates its first outlet in Milan's 19th century Galleria shopping arcade.

Last year's planned IPO, the fourth Prada has proposed over a decade, could have given Intesa an opportunity to sell some or all of its equity stake in Prada SpA at a profit. The lender invested 100 million euros for the stake in 2006. Bertelli and the Prada family own the remaining 95 percent of Prada SpA, and hold all of Prada Holding along with a consultant.

To contact the reporters on this story: Sara Gay Forden in Milan at sforden@bloomberg.net Elisa Martinuzzi in Milan at emartinuzzi@bloomberg.net .

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Schnucks, Dierbergs cash in on private labels - St. Louis Business Journal: