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Retail Briefs

Montgomery Ward in Holiday Push

The stores may be a distant memory, but the Montgomery Ward nameplate lives on, offering 50,000 products online at www.Wards.com and in its 180-page holiday catalog, mailing now. "Our holiday catalog debut last year was extremely well-received," said David Milgrom, president of Direct Marketing Services, which acquired the Montgomery Ward brand in 2004. Home products featured include holiday décor, kitchen items, furniture, entertaining and dining accessories. The website is available in Spanish as well, with the click of the "En Español" button.

JCPenney Trumpets 22 New Stores

JCPenney held October grand openings for 22 new stores — 20 of them off-mall, the $19.9 billion retailer's hottest current format. The locations were mainly in the South and Midwest. After six more open this fall, JCP will have a total of 50 new locations in 2007. The off-mall stores are approximately 100,000 square feet on a single level and feature wider aisles, bright and energy-efficient lighting, price-check scanners and front linear checkout centers.

RVI Selling 24 Value City Stores

Multi-format operator Retail Ventures Inc. (RVI) will sell or sublease 24 of its discount chain Value City Department Stores locations to Burlington Coat Factory after they close by the end of March 2008. Proceeds will be used to cut the debt of Value City. RVI previously said it was exploring strategic alternatives for Value City (2006 sales $1.3 billion), which will continue to operate 89 stores after the pending sale. The company said operations at the DSW (footwear) and Filene's Basement (off-price) divisions will not be affected, nor will the separately owned Value City Furniture Stores chain.

HBC Discount Chain Fields Heads East

Hudson's Bay Co.'s discount general merchandise chain Fields opened its 150th location last week. Largely based in the western provinces of Canada, the next move for Fields will be eastward. "Our focus is now on growing in the Ontario market where we intend to open 33 locations by the end of 2008," said Robert Johnston, president, HBC. Fields general manager Greg Crowder said the success of the chain, which has added 50 stores over the past 30 months, is based on value-priced, branded goods, including home fashions.

Dillard's to Test RFID

Department store operator Dillard's will begin an item-level Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tagging pilot in stores this month on certain apparel items. The RFID-enabled will function like a barcode and contain only the Electronic Product Code unique to each garment; the tags are designed to be removed at the time of purchase.

Dillard's emphasized it will not link data from the garment to a customer's personal information. The retailer is hoping the program will improve replenishment time.

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