Lululemon opens in Akron
Lululemon Athletica Inc., operator of stores featuring “yoga-inspired” clothing, has opened a shop — only open part of the week — in a long-vacant spot at the north edge of downtown Akron, in the Northside District.
The Akron shop is at 21 Furnace St., next to Dante Boccuzzi’s DBA restaurant on the ground floor of the Northside Lofts building developed by Paul and Joel Testa. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, with free yoga classes being offered at 9 a.m. Saturdays.
The shop had grand-opening events this week.
The Vancouver-based retailer dubs its shops, that are open fewer hours, “showrooms.” They are smaller versions of typical Lululemon stores.
Lululemon made headlines last year with a recall of some of its pants [customers complained that the fabric became sheer when they bent over] and comments made by the company’s founder that the bodies of some women “don’t work” for its yoga pants.
The closest location to the Akron shop is in Beachwood.
The Akron store employs five people, most of whom work part time.
— Katie Byard
Pilot, NHRA to partner
The National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) announced a marketing partnership with Pilot Flying J, headed by Jimmy Haslam, owner of the Cleveland Browns.
As part of the agreement, Pilot Flying J will have a presence at NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series events in 2014.
Transport drivers for NHRA race teams will compete in the Flying J Truck Driver Challenge at NHRA Mello Yello Drag racing Series events in Houston, Bristol, Tenn., Chicago and Charlotte, N.C. Pilot Flying J, the largest operator of travel centers and travel plazas in North America, has more than 650 retail locations.
Headquartered in Glendora, Calif., NHRA is the primary sanctioning body for drag racing in the United States. NHRA presents 24 national events.
Disney happy with ESPN
Aiming to squelch concerns about ESPN’s continued profitability amid rising sports rights costs, the Walt Disney Co. said profits at its ESPN-dominated cable networks unit would grow in the “high single digits” on a compounded annual basis for the next three years.
It is rare for Disney to provide insight into its future earnings. The guidance came at the end of a five-hour presentation to analysts at ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Conn.
ESPN has commanded ever-increasing fees from cable providers and takes in an estimated $3 billion annually in advertising sales. Of the $6.82 billion in operating profit reported by Disney Media Networks last year, ESPN contributed roughly 70 percent, analysts estimate.
But some investors have had concerns about rights costs, ad dollars moving to digital platforms and competition from Fox Sports 1. “No significant shift from our current pre-eminent position in rights can occur in this decade,” said John Skipper, president of ESPN Inc. and co-chairman of Disney Media Networks, rattling off a list of recently expanded sports rights deals.
Other executives promoted the company’s embrace of new digital services, its plans for the fledgling SEC Network and management stability. Skipper pointed out that ESPN’s College GameDay show recently averaged 28 times the audience of Fox Sports 1’s college football show. “That’s more than 2 million viewers for ESPN, 73,000 for them,” he said.
New Facebook device
Facebook Inc. will let people know when friends are nearby via smartphone notifications, adding features for its growing base of mobile users. Consumers can customize the tool, called Nearby Friends, to see a certain group of people for a set period of time, or turn it off completely, the company said. Friends will need to have the feature turned on in order to be seen. Nearby Friends is Facebook’s latest move into location-sharing capabilities.
The world’s biggest social network has added the ability for its more than 1.2 billion members to check into places like they would on Foursquare Labs Inc.’s mobile application.
Facebook also has acquired Glancee, a location-tracking startup, and Gowalla, a location-based social network.
Compiled from staff and wire reports