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  • INDUSTRY NEWS

    • On December 03, 2019, it was reported, J.C. Penney is back in compliance with the New York Stock Exchange. The NYSE warned Penney in August that it was at risk of being dropped from the exchange following a dip in the company's average share price below $1. The retailer regained compliance after its stock rose above the dollar mark for more than 30 consecutive trading days. Penney shares got boosts this fall as it announced it was launching an outdoor private label apparel line for men, unveiled a re-imagined store and reported improved profit metrics in the third quarter. The retailer's stock traded at $1.10 at publication time.
    • On December 03, 2019, it was reported, Mark Butler, Ollie's chairman, president and CEO, passed away yesterday while spending the Thanksgiving holiday weekend with his family. He was 61. "Mark was an exceptional entrepreneur, merchant, leader, philanthropist, friend and family man," said board member Richard Zannino on behalf of the entire board of directors. "From ringing the first sale in the first Ollie's store in Mechanicsburg, Penn. in 1982, to leading the company's highly profitable growth to 345 stores in 25 states, Mark built a successful and enduring retail concept, assembled an incredible team, created thousands of jobs and delivered millions of bargains to our customers, while delivering exceptional shareholder value along the way." Zannino continued, "We will dearly miss Mark and extend our heartfelt sympathy and condolences to Mark's entire family." Effective immediately, the board of directors has named John Swygert as interim president and CEO. Swygert has been serving as EVP and chief operating officer since January 2018 and prior to that served as Ollie's chief financial officer since 2004. Zannino said Swygert worked closely with Bulter over the past 15 years. "Together, they built a talented, passionate and high-performing management team. Based on John's intimate knowledge of the company and the closeout business, and the strength and tenure of the Ollie's team, the board has the utmost confidence in John's ability to successfully lead the company at this time."
    • On December 03, 2019, J.Crew said in an earnings call that it had reached an agreement to spin off its Madewell denim brand and take it public some time in the first quarter of next year. The announcement came as the apparel retailer also reported a 1% third quarter revenue rise to $625.6 million, with J. Crew sales falling 4% to $415.8 million and Madewell sales rising 13% to $151.6 million, according to a company press release. Digital sales drove more than half of that, executives said on the call. Comparable sales rose 3% overall, were flat at J. Crew and rose 10% at Madewell. Net loss in the quarter widened to $19.9 million from $5.7 million last year, attributable, in part, to transaction costs and non-cash impairment charges. The company also noted that net earnings from the year-ago period "reflects the impact of the benefit related to the lease termination payment." Gross margin rose year over year to 40.7%, driven by 210 basis point margin expansion (all from J. Crew as Madewell margins decreased) and a 30 basis point decrease in buying and occupancy costs as a percentage of revenues.
    • On November 27, 2019, it was reported, Pharr officials confirmed town halls are underway with its employees after the company announced major deals to sell multiple divisions. The company Coats Group has agreed to purchase Pharr's High Performance business line, while Mannington Mills will purchase Pharr Fibers & Yarns and Phenix Flooring. The company said the dual deals are expected to close early next year, and said in a release "both companies plan to retain Pharr's workforce and continue operations at its manufacturing facilities in McAdenville and Dalton, Georgia." In total, Pharr said it employs some 1,200 employees across five divisions. The company said the acquisitions will not affect Pharr's two remaining lines of business, Belmont Land & Investment Co. and Strand Hospitality Service. Pharr President and Chief Executive Bill Carstarphen said in a release the deals would benefit both customers and associates, and said "We know each of these groups will benefit tremendously from both Coats and Mannington and expect these transactions will result in a broad range of future opportunities and growth for our associates." Coats, which Pharr bills as the "world's leading industrial thread company," is headquartered in London and employs more than 18,000 people around the world, according to Pharr. The acquisition of Pharr High Performance increases Coats' North Carolina manufacturing sites to six, including McAdenville, Kings Mountain, Marion, Hendersonville and Charlotte. Privately held Mannington Mills, based in Salem, New Jersey, manufactures products like sheet vinyl, laminate, resilient and hardwood floors, in addition to commercial carpet and rubber.