Wednesday, January 26, 2000

INDUSTRY NOTES: RETAIL


Educational toy chain acquired

BY LISA BIANK FASIG
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Store of Knowledge has acquired 21 Learningsmith educational games and toy stores, but not the Learningsmith in Tri-County Mall. That store closed this month.

        The move puts Store of Knowledge in 92 malls in more than 21 states across the country. The retail chain, which has affiliations with 26 public broadcasting stations, paid $920,000 for the leases of the acquired stores. The new stores will reopen as early as this week.

        “The deal should provide Store of Knowledge with additional cash flow that strengthens the company's overall financial position,” Anne McLaughlin, executive vice president and chief financial officer, said in a statement.

        The trick will be generating enough cash flow to exceed the cost of the purchases.

        Store of Knowledge operates one store locally — the Channel 48 Store of Knowledge — in Kenwood Towne Centre. Public broadcasting does not invest cash in the chain, but a percentage of the retailer's sales support public broadcasting.

        Learningsmith opened in Tri-County in 1998.

Designer Solange appeals Limited verdict
        Scorned Philadelphia designer Solange Diter, who unsuccessfully sued the Limited Inc. for “pirating” her designer name for a line in its own Lane Bryant catalog, has filed an appeal.

        The French-born designer approached an appellate court in New York on Friday and is awaiting a response from the three judges.

        Solange — she prefers to go by her first name — alleges the Limited in the early 1990s robbed her company of millions of dollars in sales when it began using her name. That, she said, led to the closure of her factory.

        In July, a New York jury found she did not prove the Limited stole her trademark.

        Solange began to distribute through Lane Bryant Direct in 1991. Soon after, according to the suit, the Limited introduced its own Solange line. The designer filed a trademark infringement suit against the Limited Inc. in 1994, putting the damages at more than $400 million.

        In appeals court, Solange argued her original suit suffered because she could not present all her evidence during the trial. The suit also says the jury was not properly instructed about the law.

Saks Inc. closes stores in Houston, San Francisco
        Saks Inc., which is trying to correct some merchandising problems at its Saks Fifth Avenue stores after reporting declining earnings, said it would close two of its stores.

        The stores are a Saks Fifth Avenue in Houston and a Bullock & Jones in San Francisco. Saks said the stores fail to meet either sales targets or return-on-investment standards.

        The announcements came about the time Saks said it would make some management changes. Key among the shifts: The chief executive of Carson Pirie Scott, Michael McDonald, has been appointed president of the northern store group of Saks.

Cincinnati Computer among Apple's best
        Cincinnati Computer has received a first place award by Apple Computer as part of its Worldwide Best Store contest.

        The 23-year-old store, on Northland Boulevard in Springdale, won the Retail Storefront award for the United States south central region. Sales manager Thomas Cook accepted the award.

Online store of the week
        These aren't exactly small purchases, but Furniture.com does offer some nice incentives for buying furniture online.

        For one, the delivery is free. Also, the selection is huge — broader than any single store can offer. And the prices are competitive, because the buyer is ordering directly from the warehouse.

        Not all products come with detailed images, so in a lot of ways, it is like ordering from a catalog. It's a good idea to research product manufacturers before ordering (some information is already provided). Returns can be made at the cost of the company, if within 30 days of delivery.

       



Tristate home sales a record - again
Interest rates could break streak
P&G profits up, stock down
TRISTATE EARNINGS REPORTS
Retailers sue over debit cards
Index rates consumers as thrilled
EBay earnings exceed expectations
TRISTATE BUSINESS SUMMARY
- INDUSTRY NOTES: RETAIL
TRISTATE MARKET SPOTLIGHT