Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Target investors shoot down Ackman



When an activist investor comes to town, it appears that Target security goes on high alert.

While Target had its shareholders, including hedge fund manager William Ackman, and the media fly to one of its yet-unfinished stores outside of Milwaukee to attend their annual meeting, it greeted them with a heavy security detail.

From guards zooming around the parking lot on segway personal transporters to chase down wayward  parkers, to Target employees scanning shareholders with handheld metal dectors when they entered its stores, Target made it very clear it was in no mood for fun and games at its annual meeting.  

But the heavy handed approach did not seem to be needed.

Target shareholders ended up handing a loss to Ackman, who was seeking five spots on the retailer’s board in a closely watched proxy battle with the large U.S. retailer.

Check Out Line: More dark clouds in retailing


sale1Check out more bad news in the retail sector.

U.S. retail sales slumped for the second straight month, coming in weaker than analysts had expected due to sluggish gasoline and electronic goods purchases. Meanwhile, U.S. foreclosure activity in April jumped to a record high, further pressuring home prices and making a recovery tougher.

Fashion company Liz Claiborne posted a deeper-than-expected quarterly loss as retail sales remained weak in the recession. The owner of Juicy Couture, Kate Spade, Lucky Brand and Mexx labels is cutting jobs, scaling back expansion and offering more lower priced items to combat the slowdown.

Check Out Line: General Growth files for bankruptcy protection


Check out General Growth Properties’ long-anticipated bankruptcy filing. USA-HOLIDAYSALES/
Several retailers have filed for bankruptcy in recent months — now one of their landlords is doing the same.
General Growth is the second largest U.S. mall owner, with a portfolio that includes Faneuil Hall marketplace in Boston and Fashion Show in Las Vegas.
The company has been guaranteed some debtor-in-possession financing from William Ackman’s Pershing Square Capital Management.
The company listed total assets of $29.56 billion and debts of $27.29 billion. Some retailers on its list of creditors include Sephora, which is owed $1.5 million and Borders, which is owed $1.4 million.
Unlike some retailers that have been forced to liquidate while in bankruptcy, General Growth said it is seeking to emerge as quickly as possible from bankruptcy with a reorganization that preserves its national business.
Also in the basket:
Borders to lose directors, scrap reverse split
Jarden sees strong Q1; expects to beat view in ’09
Mom seen taking a hit on Mother’s Day
Video prank at Domino’s taints brand (N.Y. Times)
Fear and greed have sales of guns and ammo shooting up (Wall Street Journal)

(Reuters photo at General Growth’s Glendale Galleria in California)