Make us your home page

Tough times hit luxury chains, too

Fretting their business won't bounce back as quickly as the economy, many trend-driven retailers that cater to the affluent have dug deeper.

Neiman Marcus added 400 layoffs to the 375 in January. Saks Fifth Avenue volunteered in an earnings call that bankruptcy was not an option. Even Target, the discounter that uses limited-edition deals with designers to be trendy, said it will shift more floor space to basic merchandise — food, baby products, household items and health and beauty products — to be more recession-resistant like Wal-Mart.

Nordstrom chopped construction spending in half and said it will open only three new full-line stores this year. The expansion emphasis shifts to adding 10 Nordstrom Rack stores to its 56-store off-price chain.

That reconfirms that a full-line store planned for Sarasota in 2011 is on hold until the economic clouds part. But it also means Nordstrom Rack will make its Central Florida debut this fall across the street from Mall at Millenia in Orlando and Tampa Bay area developers will have a new off-price anchor to chase. Currently, the closest Nordstrom Rack is in Sawgrass Mills, near Fort Lauderdale.

Behind the dour outlook: The luxury chains figure that when the economy does comes back in 2010, the aspirational upper-middle-class shopper who made the good times roll for them a few years ago won't come with it.

That's why Saks, which recently launched a line of "can you top this" $7,000 men's suits, also is beefing up its selection of apparel priced to compete directly with the top-end men's and women's apparel sold at Macy's and Dillards.

What are Saks luxury customers buying now?

"We're selling a lot of blouses, a lot of knitwear, a lot of dresses and a lot of color for spring," said Ronald Frasch, Saks' chief merchandising officer. "But it's items that enhance their current wardrobe."

• • •

Now that the Belgians at InBev own Anheuser-Busch Cos. and SABMiller, which is either a British or South African company, just acquired Molson-Coor's, what's the biggest American-owned brewing company left standing?

Some would suggest Pabst Brewing Co. which produces 6 million barrels a year. But the Chicago company uses SABMiller breweries to make all its lines of Pabst, Old Milwaukee, Stroh's, Schlitz and Colt 45.

So the largest that owns an actual brewery now is Boston Beer Co., maker of 2 million barrels of Sam Adams products a year, followed by Yuengling, the Pennsylvania brewer that makes 1.7 million barrels, much of it at a plant in Tampa.

That's not quenching much of Americans' 214 million barrel thirst for beer last year.

"It was predicted a decade ago there would be only one U.S. brewing company left," said Eric Shephard, executive editor of Beer Marketer's Insights, a trade journal. "But nobody saw this. Everybody presumed it would be Anheuser-Busch."

Incidentally, InBev Anheuser Busch is weighing selling its aluminum recycling operations and theme parks, including Sea World and Busch Gardens Africa in Tampa, to help raise $7 billion to pay off the $52 billion purchase price for A-B.

The credit crunch, as well as InBev's recently renegotiated bridge loan, has taken much of the urgency out of an immediate sale.

The parks and recycling units are among five potential asset sales InBev is weighing to raise the money. The others are its South Korean breweries, which are reportedly worth $2.5 billion, the Czech Staropramen brewery that Heineken is interested in buying for $272 million and its German Beck's franchise.

Mark Albright can be reached at or (727) 893-8252.

Tough times hit luxury chains, too 03/02/09 [Last modified: Monday, March 2, 2009 11:20pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Federal agencies demand records from SeaWorld theme park


    ORLANDO — Two federal agencies are reportedly demanding financial records from SeaWorld.

    Killer whales Ikaika and Corky participate in behaviors commonly done in the wild during SeaWorld's Killer Whale educational presentation in this photo from Jan. 9. SeaWorld has been subpoenaed by two federal agencies for comments that executives and the company made in August 2014 about the impact from the "Blackfish" documentary. 
[Nelvin C. Cepeda/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS]
  2. Legalized medical marijuana signed into law by Rick Scott

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott on Friday signed into law a broader medical marijuana system for the state, following through on a promise he made earlier this month.

    Gov. Rick Scott signed legislation on Friday that legalizes medical marijuana in Florida.
  3. Line of moms welcome Once Upon A Child to Carrollwood


    CARROLLWOOD — Strollers of all shapes and sizes are lined up in front of the store, and inside, there are racks of children's clothing in every color of the rainbow.

    At Once Upon A Child, you often as many baby strollers outside as you find baby furniture and accessories. It recently opened this location in Carrollwood. Photo by Danielle Hauser
  4. Pastries N Chaat brings North India cuisine to North Tampa


    TAMPA — Pastries N Chaat, a new restaurant offering Indian street food, opened this week near the University of South Florida.

    The menu at Pastries N Chaat includes a large variety of Biriyani, an entree owners say is beloved by millions. Photo courtesy of Pastries N Chaat.
  5. 'Garbage juice' seen as threat to drinking water in Florida Panhandle county


    To Waste Management, the nation's largest handler of garbage, the liquid that winds up at the bottom of a landfill is called "leachate," and it can safely be disposed of in a well that's 4,200 feet deep.

    Three samples that were displayed by Jackson County NAACP President Ronstance Pittman at a public meeting on Waste Management's deep well injection proposal. The sample on the left is full of leachate from the Jackson County landfill, the stuff that would be injected into the well. The sample on the right shows leachate after it's been treated at a wastewater treatment plant. The one in the middle is tap water.