Personnel Updates:

Bon-Ton Stores said its CEO, Brendan Hoffman, will step down early next year.

The Buckle Inc. announced several leadership changes. Michelle Hoffman has been appointed VP of Sales, Kyle L. Hanson has been appointed VP, General Counsel, and Corporate Secretary. Karen B. Rhoads has been appointed Senior VP of Finance and CFO, Brett P. Milkie has been appointed Senior VP of Leasing, Patricia K. Whisler has been appointed Senior VP of Women’s Merchandising and Robert M. Carlberg has been appointed Senior VP of Men’s Merchandising.

Polo Ralph Lauren Corp. announced it has hired Valerie Hermann to head its Luxe Division. The company also announced Wayne Meichner, President and COO is leaving the company.


Mergers and Acquisitions:

The Men’s Wearhouse Inc. and Jos. A. Bank Clothiers Inc. announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement under which Men’s Wearhouse will acquire Jos. A. Bank.Together, Men’s Wearhouse and Jos. A. Bank will have more than 1,700 stores in the U.S., with approximately 23,000 employees.

Signet Jewelers Ltd. has agreed to buy rival Zale Corp.


Industry Insight:

Ashley Stewart announced it will immediately close 27 underperforming stores as a part of a Chapter 11 bankruptcy restructuring plan that it said will likely result in a sale of the company.

The Children’s Place Retail Stores, Inc. said it is renaming the company to The Children’s Place, Inc. In 2014, the company plans to open approximately 35 stores and close 30 existing locations.

Dots, after filing for Chapter 11 protection in January, announced it is closing all its stores.

Express Inc. has launched a growth initiative focused on outlet stores. The company said it will start opening new outlet stores beginning in May 2014.

Gap Inc. will raise the minimum hourly wage for all U.S. employees to $9 in 2014, and then raise it again, to $10, in 2015. The move will affect about 65,000 store employees across the company’s brands.

Gap Inc. opened an Old Navy store in China. The 22,000 sq. ft., three-level store opened in Shanghai. The company also plans to open three stores in Taiwan as part of the plan to open 30 new stores across the Greater China region this year.

L Brands Inc. will expand its Victoria’s Secret brand into China this year. This is part of a larger goal to add more than 140 international locations this year.

Saks Fifth Avenue is introducing a new line of designer sneakers for men in 16 of its stores.

Sears Holdings Corp. said its board has approved the spin on of its Lands’ End business, effective April 4. As part of the spinoff, Lands’ End will enter into a lease agreement, initially paying Sears about $27 million in total annual rent for its in-store locations.


Real Estate:

Dick’s Sporting Goods opened a new store at Pier Park North in Panama City Beach, FL. The company also announced plans to open new stores in Fort Myers, FL, and Slidell, LA.

Gap Inc. will expand its Athleta brand with approximately 30 U.S. stores planned for 2014.

H & M opened its first location in the state of Hawaii.  The 31,000 sq. ft. store is located in the Waikiki Business Plaza.

Nordstrom Inc. announced plans to open a 31,000 sq. ft. Nordstrom Rack at Redfield Promenade in Reno, NV in spring 2015, a 35,000 sq. ft. Nordstrom Rack at The Mall at Sears in Anchorage, AK in fall 2015, and a 123,000 sq. ft. Nordstom store at The Domain in Austin, TX in fall 2016. The company plans to open 28 Nordstrom Rack stores and three full-line Nordstrom stores during fiscal 2014.

Robert Graham will open a branded retail store this spring in Scottsdale Fashion Square Mall in Scottsdale, AZ.

Ross Stores Inc. recently opened four new Ross Dress for Less locations in the greater Chicago area. New locations opened in Pullman Park Shopping Center and Lake Park Pointe Shopping Center in Chicago, Waukegan Plaza in Waukegan, and Butterfield Plaza in Downers Grove. The company also it opened its first store in Foothill Square in Oakland, CA.  The company will also open new locations in Florida at the Coral Ridge Mall in Fort Lauderdale, Seabridge Square in St. Augustine, Lake Mary Centre in Lake Mary, and Southchase Village in Orlando.

Stein Mart Inc. plans to open 10 new stores in 2014. Three stores will open this spring, one in March and two in May, and seven stores will open this fall. The company also said it will relocate six stores to better locations in their respective markets.

The Bon-Ton Stores, Inc. announced it will open a 743,000 sq. ft. highly automated direct-to-consumer fulfillment center in West Jefferson, OH. The Company anticipates the facility to be fully operational and ship its first orders in spring of 2015.

Uniqlo will open its first Pennsylvania store on May 16, at King of Prussia Mall, in King of Prussia.