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Moody’s: Pent-up demand will contribute to modest lift in holiday sales

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK — Moody’s on Tuesday cut against the grain with its holiday forecasts by suggesting pent-up demand will help give retailers a reason to celebrate Black Friday despite concerns of another government shutdown in January. It’s not what shoppers say they’re going to not do this year, but rather an extension of how shoppers will actually spend based on last season’s behavior. 

"We expect holiday sales growth to be in the 4.5%-to-5.5% range for the 2013 November-December shopping season, compared with 3.8% last year," stated Moody’s assistant VP Michael Zuccaro. "Much of this improvement will be due to pent-up demand as lingering fiscal uncertainties ease and as consumers snap up pivotal new game systems like Playstation 4 and Xbox One."

In the year to date U.S. retailers’ sales and earnings are on track with Moody’s full-year forecasts, the firm stated. Sales growth has been tracking at the lower end of the 3%-5% range, while earnings growth is in the 3.5%-4.5% range. Moody’s believes retailers for the most part have managed inventory levels conservatively and have focused on expense control.

Consumers will continue to prioritize gift-giving for this holiday season, Zuccaro said, noting that last year holiday sales rose modestly despite the fiscal cliff crisis and Hurricane Sandy. "While weak sales in October this year likely reflected concerns about the government shutdown, month-over-month growth in spending on electronics, furniture and sporting goods was strong, which may indicate that consumers have begun to release pent-up demand."

The best-performing segments will again be electronics, toys, party goods and luxury goods, Moody’s says, while retailers whose goods are perceived to be good value for money should also do well. 

 

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Nielsen acquires Harris Interactive

BY Michael Johnsen

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — The global market research firm Harris Interactive on Monday announced that it has entered into a definitive merger agreement to be acquired by Nielsen Holdings. 

"This announcement reflects the successful completion of the turnaround strategy that we began in July 2011 and will deliver to Harris Interactive stockholders meaningful value and liquidity immediately upon closing," said Al Angrisani, Harris Interactive president and CEO. "Harris Interactive’s board of directors selected the Nielsen transaction after a thorough review of the company’s strategic alternatives that began earlier this year," he said. "By combining Nielsen’s global capabilities and scale with Harris Interactive’s extensive industry and research expertise, we’ll be able to drive outcomes and innovate to bring new methods to understanding consumers around the world."

"For our existing CPG and media clients, our combined capabilities will provide better and more integrated insights to help them drive business outcomes," added John Lewis, president, Americas, Nielsen.  "Harris Interactive’s strength with other industry verticals allows us to serve these clients with Nielsen’s differentiated solutions in areas such as marketing effectiveness, social and digital to achieve our growth objectives."

Under the terms of the merger agreement, Nielsen will commence a tender offer to acquire all of the outstanding shares of Harris Interactive’s common stock through a wholly owned subsidiary formed for the purpose of making the offer. Holders of outstanding shares of Harris Interactive’s common stock will receive $2 per share in cash, subject to adjustment as provided in the merger agreement. The $ per share cash purchase price represents a 2% premium to the volume weighted average closing price of Harris Interactive’s common stock in the 60 consecutive trading days prior to announcement of the transaction.  

The Harris Interactive board of directors has unanimously approved the transaction and certain of the directors of Harris Interactive have entered into tender and support agreements, representing approximately 12% of the outstanding shares of Harris Interactive’s common stock, pursuant to which they have agreed to tender all of their shares pursuant to the tender offer.

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Coty names Mary van Praag new OPI GM

BY Antoinette Alexander

NEW YORK — Coty has appointed Mary van Praag as GM of the OPI brand, effective Jan. 1, 2014. She will step into her new role and lead the brand’s further growth and expansion as founder and CEO George Schaeffer announces his retirement.

Van Praag’s successor will be announced in the coming weeks. Schaeffer will continue to work with OPI’s management team through a newly created role as OPI’s strategic board adviser.

Since founding OPI in 1981, Schaeffer has built one of the beauty industry’s most iconic and successful nail care brands. With a portfolio of more than 400 shades, OPI has for the past three decades linked fashion and entertainment with color cosmetics.

After more than 30 years of leading OPI, Schaeffer, who is well-known for his philanthropy, will focus on the Schaeffer Family Foundation and multiple charities that support health-related causes and children’s education.

"George puts his heart into everything that he does: the OPI business, the professional nail care industry and his philanthropy," stated Michele Scannavini, CEO of Coty. "I would like to thank George for his commitment over the years and wish him continued success in the future."

"George is a visionary leader and entrepreneur," added Renato Semerari, president of Coty Beauty. "I am very thankful for his leadership in making OPI such an iconic brand and for his help in making OPI become an integral part of the Coty family. I’m extremely pleased that he will remain involved in OPI’s future."

To move the brand forward and lead its international expansion, van Praag will assume the role of GM of OPI, replacing John Heffner, who has left the organization to pursue other career interests. She will collaborate with OPI artistic director Suzi Weiss-Fischmann.

Van Praag has led Coty’s mass channel sales organization in the United States for three years, after which she was promoted to her current role managing Coty’s business in Canada. She has been instrumental in turning Coty Canada’s mass channel business around, as well as building and developing a stronger organization.

"I’m deeply honored that Coty’s leadership has chosen me to oversee the OPI brand, especially during this crucial time in the brand’s history," van Praag said. "I’m eager to start my new role and work with George and Suzi to propel the OPI brand toward new levels of growth."

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