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Inside Retail (Apr 10th, 2017)

Adidas is finally bringing its much-hyped 3D-printed shoes to the mainstream market, making it the first shoe retailer to use the printing technology for its product. Adidas is calling the shoe “Futurecraft 4D” and is making about 50,000 pairs this year through a partnership with Carbon, a Silicon Valley startup. The process allows for better customization, with a sole that can be made and adjusted quickly. Adidas foresees making a customer’s custom shoe in two hours as among the opportunities that the production method will offer the company. It expects to produce about 100,000 pairs of the shoes in 2018. – BUSINESS INSIDER  

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Luxury clothing brand Ralph Lauren is closing its flagship store in New York City on Fifth Avenue, signaling the end of an era for the once-thriving apparel maker. Ralph Lauren is suffering from both overall retail trends toward discount apparel and declining foot traffic in brick-and-mortar stores. Some say the brand is becoming dated. In response to pressures from the retail climate, Ralph Lauren says it will overhaul its e-commerce efforts as part of a $370 million shakeup, which also includes cutting jobs. Ralph Lauren is shifting its digital operations to a Salesforce.com platform and has planned other store closures. – BLOOMBERG

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Fast fashion retailer Rue21 is headed toward bankruptcy as it struggles with declining earnings and debt repayments. Rue21 has missed interest and amortization payments and is looking for new lenders as it restructures, although many lenders think the company is incapable of assuming more debt. DebtWire associate editor Reshmi Basu says Rue21 has “way too much leverage and declining mall traffic” that she says is creating a “death knell” for the company. So far this year, mall-based retailers that have filed for bankruptcy include BCBG Max Azria, Wet Seal and The Limited Stores.  – DEBTWIRE

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Swedish apparel retailer H&M is expanding its brands to target a wider variety of shoppers. The overall strategy this year includes adding 80 stores driven by its six smaller brands to broaden its reach of its 350 H&M outlets, which aim to attract younger shoppers looking for affordable clothes. The alternative stores under the H&M umbrella will cater to higher-end shoppers with a concept called Arket, that will have clothing, home goods and a café. The first Arket is slated to open this fall in London, followed by several other openings worldwide. "This isn’t like anything else we have,” H&M CEO Karl-Johan Persson told Bloomberg. “It’s a completely different expression.” – BLOOMBERG  

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While a slew of retailers like Macy’s, Gap and J.C. Penney have already announced store closings this year, one analyst thinks such mall-based retailers need to accelerate their closures. Oliver Chen of Cowen & Co. said that the U.S. has a glut of retail space in comparison to other countries and in comparison to the population. The U.S. has about 23.5 square feet of shopping center space per person, versus 16.4 in Canada and less than 5 square feet in the UK, France, Spain and Italy. Since 1970, the number of malls has increased four times while the population has increased 1.6 times. – EMARKETER  

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Eastern Outfitters LLC plans to close several Eastern Mountain Sports and Bob’s Stores locations as it tries to survive waning sales. Eastern Outfitters is hoping Sports Direct will acquire its retail chains out of bankruptcy, but Sports Direct “has identified certain locations that do not make economic sense to operate, particularly if the debtors are unable to get better terms on some of their leases,” according to court papers. Eastern Outfitters has 86 Eastern Mountain Sports and Bob’s Stores locations with a combined 2,600 employees. Sports Direct is providing an $85 million loan to help it repay debts, including missed lease payments. – WSJ

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