Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: Wanna own a piece of Toys “R” Us, again?


TOYSCheck out Toys R Us’ IPO filing.

After months of speculation, Toys R Us finally filed its application to go public again in an offering of as much as $800 million, which makes it one of the largest deals in the U.S. IPO pipeline.

Toys R Us was publicly traded until 2005 before  being bought by private equity firms Bain Capital, KKR and real estate company Vornado.  The chain, which also owns the famed FAO Schwartz in Manhattan, had sales of $13.6 billion last year, and appears to be riding a wave of IPOs aimed at helping private equity firms cashing out on their investments.

But IPOs have had a hard time of it lately, what with the roller coaster stock markets have been on. In any regard, this is just the filing, which means the IPO is not necessarily imminent. Which is perhaps just as well, given the uncertain prospects of the stock markets.

Also in the basket:

-  Apple iPad frenzy spreads abroad

Kingfisher Q1 profit seen up, New Look mum on IPO

(Reuters photo)

Check Out Line: A glimmer from Zale’s


Check out who is paying full price for bling.  ZALE/

More people at Zale Corp, that’s who.

The jeweler still posted a loss in the first quarter, but it was less of a loss than a year earlier.

Merchandise margins also rose, the result of less promotional
price cutting.

Zale has also cut expenses, closed stores and trimmed inventories. And it got some relief from its liquidity problems earlier this month, when private equity firm Golden Gate Capital lent it $150 million for five years and took a 19.9 percent stake.

Check Out Line: Summer job search advice for teens


jobfair1Check out tough times for job-seeking teens.

Outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas said teens looking for a summer job will need to dedicate themselves full-time to the search, meaning getting a full-time job will be a full-time job. While many employers have filled summer positions, some may need more than expected while others delayed hiring until summer business conditions became clearer, Challenger CEO John Challenger said.

“The point is, you never know if or when a job opening is going to materialize, so you want to keep pushing,” he said in a statement.

Check Out Line: Betting on Borders


lebowCheck out who’s making a bet on Borders, the struggling bookseller.

Financier Bennett LeBow, chairman of tobacco holding company Vector Group Ltd, is buying 11.1 million Borders shares  through a company he controls — making him Borders’ single largest shareholder.

Borders CEO Mike Edwards praised LeBow’s turnaround prowess- fair enough. If you can help tabacco companies, you can probably help any ailing company.

Check Out Line: More chocolate, less wrinkles


Barry Callebaut cocoa factoryCheck out the delicious possibility of fighting aging by eating chocolate.

New studies — albeit from chocolate maker Barry Callebaut — show that eating less than an ounce of a specially-made chocolate each day may help make your skin look younger.

The antioxidant-rich chocolate may help prevent wrinkles, boost elasticity and improve hydration, the company found.  It said that it found a way of preserving the flavanols found in cocoa beans during the chocolate-making process.

Check Out Line: The tale of two home centers


Home DepotCheck out the differing prospects at Home Depot and Lowe’s.

Home Depot topped analysts’ expectations with its quarterly report on Tuesday morning and raised 2010 forecasts after its strong start out of the gate.

That dose of confidence came a day after smaller rival Lowe’s issued guidance that disappointed investors.  Remember, Lowe’s was a bit cautious when it came to talking about the possibility of an economic recovery.

Check Out Line: Department stores ready to duke it out


JCPenneyCheck out department stores’ forecasts coming in below expectations as they try to gain market share.

On Friday, JC Penney became the latest chain to issue outlook that falls a little bit short of what Wall Street had already expected.

Check Out Line: Retail earnings present a mixed bag


KOHLS/NORDSTROMCheck out U.S. retailers posting better-than-expected profits but seeing their shares fall. 

Kohl’s Corp on Thursday posted quarterly profit that rose more than Wall Street had expected. But the mid-tier department store operator’s shares fell nearly 3 percent after its forecast for the second quarter and full year fell short of analysts’ estimates. 

Check Out Line: Your new CVS CEO will be ready in 12 months


Thomas RyanCheck out who’s checking out at CVS.

The drugstore and pharmacy benefits plan operator said CEO Thomas Ryan will leave that post a year from now. He is expected to be succeeded by COO Larry Merlo.

Ryan has presided over a great deal of change in his 12 years as CEO, including rapid expansion of the company’s store base
and the 2007 acquisition of Caremark, which helped move CVS past the role of traditional pharmacy operator and made it a larger player in health care.

Arugula no cure for food deserts-expert


firstladyAdam Drewnowski, director of the Nutritional Sciences Program at the University of Washington in Seattle, says the United States needs to take home economics into account as it battles childhood obesity and attempts to eradicate “food deserts”.

His comments come as first lady Michelle Obama has made it her mission to reduce childhood obesity within a generation. They also land  on the heels of a White House task force report that made several anti-obesity recommendations, including using cash incentives to bring more healthy, affordable food into the nation’s food deserts.