Posted by Sheila Shayon on December 16, 2013 10:14 AM
Despite a firestorm of criticism over a product recall, management shake-ups, and inappropriate comments from its eccentric founder, upscale athletic fashion retailer Lululemon Athletica recently reported increased profits and revenue in the third quarter.
The Vancouver-based company most known for its yoga apparel said profits rose 15 percent to $66.1 million, or 45 cents per share, for the three-month period ending Nov. 3. Revenues climbed to $379.9 million from $316.5 million for the quarter, beating expectations of $374.6 million. But the company's recovery may come to a halt next quarter, with projections for same-store sales coming in flat—collateral from a year of struggle for the company.
Perhaps a holiday blessing for Lululemon will be the pending departure of outspoken, controversial founder Dennis J. Wilson, known as Chip, who will be stepping down as chairman of the board, though he'll remain a member.
Wilson most recently ignited a firestorm after telling Bloomberg TV in November that "some women's bodies just actually don't work," for the company's famed yoga pants, the focus of a March recall that shed a spotlight on the company's flawed supply chain and quality control issues. Wilson's comments irritated an already inflamed sentiment that the company neglected plus-size women—an issue that it has yet to address.Continue reading...
chew on this
Posted by Dale Buss on December 4, 2013 06:27 PM
Applebee's is following Chili's example and introducing tablet computers to each table in its 1,860 US restaurants. Patrons will still order from and be served their main courses by waiters and waitresses, but the tablets are expected to improve things at the margins of the restaurant experience—where profits are most won and lost.
The 7-inch screens will allow customers to order appetizers and desserts, pay their bills, and even play video games. The tablet gambit is aimed largely at Millennials who are expecting restaurants to offer improved technologies, USA Today said.
The goal isn't to replace human staffers but to free them to focus more fully on serving the table, NRN.com said. Applebee's doesn't currently plan any staff reductions because of the tablet installation.Continue reading...
Posted by Mark J. Miller on November 20, 2013 05:46 PM
United Airlines has had a rough go of it lately, especially since it merged with Continental Airlines back in 2010. "These past few years, in many ways, have felt like we've been managing a merger and not an airline...and now we get to manage an airline," United Chief Executive Jeff Smisek admitted, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The airline has become a bit of a punch line for its policies and slip-ups, including boarding passengers with window seats first to its ranking as the least satisfying major airline on the annual American Customer Satisfaction Index. And the fees, oh the fees.
So the airline has announced plans to both improve its profitability and performance, USA Today reports. Of course, part of the plan is to add on more fees and “optimizing” the ones it already has. The airline figurs it can make an extra $700 million annually that way resulting in “$3.5 billion in ancillary revenue by 2017.” Those extra charges could be for such things as “priority boarding, roomier seats, and/or less-stringent rebooking rules,” according to the Chicago Tribune. That doesn’t exactly sound like it will help those satisfaction ratings, though.Continue reading...
sip on this
Posted by Mark J. Miller on November 20, 2013 04:02 PM
Bakery-cafe Panera Bread has had a rough go at it lately, with its extensive menu turning out to be a hard sell. So the fast-casual restaurant is hoping further investment in one of its simplest offerings pays off.
In partnership with coffee provider Disant Lands Coffee, the restaurant is launching four varieties of its cafe coffee in K-Cup form, following in the footsteps of cafe rival Starbucks. The four flavors—dark roast, light roast, Colombia, and hazelnut crème—are the same ones served up at the chain’s more than 1,700 locations, according to Food Business News. The effort will bring the Panera brand into Supervalues, Save Marts, Hy-Vees, Dierbergs, and select Winn-Dixie locations across the country.
"Our customers appreciate the level of care we put into our menu, like our commitment to fresh coffee, on the hour, in every bakery-cafe," said Stephanie Crimmins, vice-president of Panera Bread. "With Panera Single-Serve Cups we are offering them the same fresh coffee experience in their own kitchen."Continue reading...
Posted by Mark J. Miller on November 18, 2013 07:21 PM
Research firm YouGov BrandIndex has crowned Southwest Airlines the king of brand awareness among US airlines, according to a new survey. The announcement follows the largest US domestic carrier being designated as the airliner most easy to deal with worldwide.
52 percent of respondents put Southwest on top for "Purchase Consideration" and 32 percent put the airline above all others for “Ad Awareness.” Purchase consideration measures which brand consumers are most likely to purchase from next while ad awareness asks which brand consumers have seen ads for in the past two months.
Southwest is head and shoulders above American Airlines, United Airlines, and Delta, which had Ad Awareness between 18 to 21 percent. In Purchase Consideration, the other travel brands all ranked in the mid-thirties. Southwest, for one, is very engaged across different social media channels including Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on November 15, 2013 06:02 PM
McDonald's retains its long-term growth goals despite its troubles in 2013. But the chain certainly is tweaking how it plans to reach them, with new efforts ranging from selling McCafe coffees in supermarkets with Kraft to its first Happy Meal tie-in with the National Football League. And along the way, McDonald's is trying to figure out how it lost the "quick" in its quick-serve.
CEO Don Thompson said at the company's investor conference this week that McDonald's has suffered from an iffy consumer economy, and labor- and commodity-cost pressures. The company also has been hamstrung by its own poor execution in areas that have included the less-than-stellar sales performance of its steady menu of new Limited Time items, such as Mighty Wings chicken wings.
But the most problematic area for McDonald's may be that its US customer service has suffered recently, in part because it has introduced too many of those new menu items, too quickly, for its operations to adjust efficiently.Continue reading...
Posted by Barry Silverstein on November 13, 2013 04:54 PM
The global luxury market is set to see its slowest growth this year since 2009, with the Asian market in particular contributing to the slump. French luxury brands Gucci and Louis Vuitton, for example, recently reported drops in Chinese sales as consumers showed a preference for "logo-free" clothing and accessories.
In a turn of events, it's the US that is expected to be a strong luxury market over the next five years, according to a new study by Departures magazine in association with Ledbury Research. Top luxury CEOs ranked North America as the most important growth market, followed by East Asia, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, and Central/South America. Despite China's blistering economic growth in recent years, it is actually the US that created 94 percent of the world's new millionaires over the past year, according to Credit Suisse.
But some of the more intriguing recent data regarding the global luxury market may be coming out of India. A new report published by the Confederation of Indian Industry and IMRB International, a market research firm found that over the past three years, the Indian luxury market has grown around 15 percent, with the highest interest in luxury products as opposed to luxury services. Driving that growth is India's "Closet Consumer."Continue reading...
Posted by Mark J. Miller on October 29, 2013 04:39 PM
When Business Travel News released its annual hotel satisfaction study a few weeks ago, one unique name popped up among the major hotel chains: Kimpton. The boutique hotel network founded in 1981 took a short hiatus from the list before returning this year to claim several high scores in the upper upscale tier of hotels.
"What's interesting is the hotels with the largest networks aren't necessarily the strongest," said Henry Harteveldt, a travel industry consultant and partner at Hudson Crossing, according to BTN. "Kimpton is very localized and takes a high degree of pride in the personalization of the service it can deliver to a guest."
Kimpton only has 60 locations in the US, but it is continuing to grow. "As we've added more hotels and more cities to our portfolio, we've become a trusted brand with them and their travelers," Kimpton’s senior vice president of sales and catering, Christine Lawson, told BTN. "It's enabled us to show what we're made of: not just the design and uniqueness of our hotels, but our WiFi capabilities, being sensitive to what's going on from a health and fitness perspective and our lobbies and our social space."Continue reading...