PhillyInc: Burlington Coat Factory closing in on landmark store opening

Posted: September 26, 2012

Don't look now, but the Burlington Coat Factory retail chain is closing in on opening its 500th store.

As of the end of its second quarter, on July 28, the Burlington, N.J.-based company had 482 stores. Last Friday, it opened a 92,000-square-foot flagship location on Union Square in Manhattan - its sixth store in New York.

On a conference call with financial analysts last week, executives said the company will open 22 new stores by the end of the year.

Not bad for a Bain Capital-owned property, eh?

In fact, when the post- Mitt Romney private-equity firm paid $2.1 billion in April 2006 to take the then-public Burlington Coat private, the chain had 366 stores. Private equity is generally attracted to retailers because they tend to generate a lot of cash.

Lo and behold, Burlington Coat's private owners have been investing in growing the off-price brand. Fred Hand, its executive vice president of stores, said on that same conference call that the company had opened 171 new stores, remodeled 30 stores, and "refreshed" 115 others since 2006.

The new Union Square store, which took over a location vacated by the bankrupt Filene's Basement, will employ 500 people.

Plosser's QE take?

It only seems like everyone's thrown in their 2 cents' worth on the latest variation of quantitative easing by the Federal Reserve.

On Tuesday, we should hear what another president of a regional Federal Reserve bank thinks about it. Charles Plosser will give a noontime speech to the CFA of Philadelphia and Bond Club of Philadelphia on his home court at the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.

The topics for such speeches are notoriously bland - "Economic Outlook and Monetary Policy" is the title of this one - but Plosser has expressed previously his skepticism about the effectiveness of the Fed's bond-buying efforts.

So I fully expect the former University of Rochester economics professor to address QE3 (also known as QE Forever or QE Infinity) after running through his take on the trend for the U.S. economy.

Plosser didn't get the chance to vote on QE3 earlier this month. He won't be a voting member of the Federal Open Market Committee until 2014. But non-voting regional presidents participate in all FOMC meetings.

Other Fed officials have been defending ( Narayana Kocherlakota, of Minneapolis) or attacking ( Richard Fisher, of Dallas) the latest stimulus effort.

Reduce or produce

Manufacturers in the Philadelphia region appear to be more inclined to cut production than raise it in the fourth quarter.

That's the general conclusion from a special question that Philly Fed researchers asked in the most recent Business Outlook Survey. About 45 percent of those surveyed indicated a deceleration in production at their plants compared with the third quarter, while 32 percent see an acceleration.

But within those figures, only 6.4 percent of respondents told the Fed that they see a "significant deceleration." Those anticipating a "significant acceleration" accounted for 18 percent of respondents.

Also, a little more hopeful, there were more firms looking to increase employment over the next six months (32 percent) than decrease it (11 percent).


Contact Mike Armstrong

at 215-854-2980 or marmstrong@phillynews.com, or @PhillyInc on Twitter. Read his blog, "PhillyInc," at www.phillyinc.biz.

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