...with brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

• The Los Angeles Times reports that an Indiana judge has ruled in favor of the Simon Property Group, saying that Starbucks cannot close 77 of its Teavana stores in malls operated by the company. Starbucks announced last summer that it planned to close all of its 379 Teavana stores because the chain is underperforming.

However, Simon Property objected, saying that Starbucks has leases on those stores and that closing them would be a violation of its contractual obligations, not to mention would represent material harm to its malls because it would reduce traffic and potentially cause other retailers to close.

The judge agreed.

Starbucks said that it was disappointed in the ruling, but would “continue to focus on finding a resolution.”

Really? Here’s the question I’d like to see answered: How many people actually go to a mall because there’s a Teavana store there? Hard to imagine that the Simon folks can’t do better than that … which means that this isn’t about Teavana leaving, but rather the broader weakness of the mall business for which Simon is trying to compensate with this desperate (though admittedly effective) strategy.


• The BBC reports that Toys R Us “s preparing to close around a quarter of its 106 UK stores, with the loss of hundreds of jobs … The closures would form part of a deal to renegotiate debts owed by the company to its landlords - which must be agreed by 75% of its creditors.

“The toy giant, which has around 3,000 workers, is looking to move away from its ‘big-box’ out-of-town store model.”

I hope that Toys R Us doesn’t run up against the Simon mall folks as it looks to close stores, because things like being untenable, unprofitable and uncompetitive don’t matter to them when it comes to keeping these things open.


• The Chicago Tribune reports that Walgreens is replacing its longtime ad slogan - “At the corner of happy and healthy” with a new one: “Trusted since 1901.”

According to the story, the new slogan is designed to be more than a reminder of the company’s history, but also serve as “a dig aimed at emerging drugstore rivals including e-commerce pioneer Amazon, which is reportedly eager to enter the pharmacy benefits or drug distribution businesses.”

Co-COO Alex Gourlay says it reflects “a pivotal moment that signals the next phase in our transformation,” as the company wants to “highlight the chain’s neighborhood roots, convenient store hours and on-site pharmacists — Walgreens has about 8,100 outlets nationwide and employs a small army of 25,000 pharmacists.”

It is ironic that on a weekend that CVS acquires Aetna, Walgreen’s big news is a new slogan. To be fair, though, the company has said that it is open to the same sort of deal, or even partnering with Amazon, in order to stay competitive and relevant. Time’s a wasting, though…and I’d be troubled by a quote I recently saw from Walgreens Boots Alliance executive vice chairman & CEO Stefano Pessina, who said that Amazon “will not come in an industry so complicated as our industry … at the end of the day, Amazon is not a retailer. It is a technology company.” That strikes me as being posturing … or maybe incredibly naïve.