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Inside Retail (Dec 6th, 2017)

Charming Charlie, an accessories retailer, says it will close an unspecified number of stores and close its Los Angeles office as part of efforts to cut costs. It will also reduce staff at its Houston distribution center and headquarters. “By reducing the size and scale of our operations, we have the opportunity to stabilize the business,” said CEO Lana Krauter in a statement. Charming Charlie, with about 375 stores, is saddled with debt and rapidly burning through cash. Some analysts say the company may be forced to reorganize its debt, perhaps through debt reorganization. – RETAIL DIVE 

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BarkBox is now set to go public after it has generated profits. Bark, the parent company of BarkBox, could launch an initial public offering in the next six months, according to CEO Matt Meeker. BarkBox is a subscription service with products for dogs. The company reportedly met with major banks to determine its options for launching stock, although it said it was a typical move for companies at its stage and far in advance of a process. Bark expects to draw more than $150 million in revenue by the end of 2017 and $250 million by the end of next year. – CNBC

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Starbucks could become a cashless company one day, says former CEO and current executive chairman Howard Schultz. But he says technology will not replace its “humanity” in customer relations. “I don’t see a day where artificial intelligence or robotics is going to replace the humanity of Starbucks,” Schultz said. “The equity of the brand is based on that.” Starbucks recently announced it would open its largest café to date – a 30,000-square-foot location in Shanghai. –CNBC

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United Parcel Service said it is overwhelmed by online orders and does not expect all of its packages will get to customers on time. UPS shares slid about 3 percent on the news. The company handles deliveries for a number of the largest retailers like Wal-Mart and Amazon. The holiday shopping season has gotten off to a strong start with record sales on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, triggering a surge in online sales. Many customers will have their packages delivered a couple days late. But analysts say the key is whether UPS’s capacity can keep up with demand during the critical week before Christmas. UPS expects to deliver about 750 million packages this season. – WSJ

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Home Depot plans to launch a buyback program of about $15 billion. The home-improvement retailer also said it would speed up the pace of investments in its business, including in employees, delivery capabilities and customer experience. It said that its annual sales and earnings were on track to meet targets. It expects sales of between $114.7 billion and $119.8 billion. “The retail landscape is changing at unprecedented rates and we plan to invest for the future to address the evolving needs of our customers,” Chief Executive Craig Menear said in a statement. WSJ

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