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News Briefs

  • 9/21/2023

    Amazon to bring ads to Prime Video — with an ad-free option

    Amazon’s Prime Video will include advertisements beginning in January.

    Amazon Prime members will have to pay a bit extra come January if they want to continue to see ad-free programs on its streaming service.

    Amazon said that, beginning in January, shows and movies on Prime Video will include “limited advertisements.” The company noted that it aims to have “meaningfully fewer ads than linear TV and other streaming TV providers.”

    Amazon said it is not making any changes in 2024 to the current price of Prime membership, but it will offer a new ad-free option for an additional $2.99 per month for U.S. Prime members.

    Ads on Prime Video will be introduced in the U.S., U.K., Germany, and Canada in early 2024, followed by France, Italy, Spain, Mexico and Australia later in the year.

    The company will e-mail Prime members several weeks before ads are introduced into Prime Video with information on how to sign up for the ad-free option.

    “To continue investing in compelling content and keep increasing that investment over a long period of time, starting in early 2024, Prime Video shows and movies will include limited advertisements,” the company said in a post announcing its decision.

    Amazon’s move to include advertisements comes as other streaming services, including Netflix,  have also introduced ads into their programming.


  • 9/21/2023

    H-E-B plots more Dallas-area store expansion — here’s where

    H-E-B opened its first store in the Dallas-Fort Worth area in November 2022, in Plano.

    H-E-B continues its push into the Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) metroplex.

    The grocer said to plans to open three new stores in the area  — in Melissa, Prosper and Rockwall — in 2025. Groundbreaking is expected early next year.

     H-E-B currently has two stores under construction in the DFW area, in Alliance and Mansfield. Both are set to open in spring 2024.  In addition, the grocer will open a location in Allen, on Oct. 4. 

    At 117,000 sq. ft., H-E-B Allen will include a full-service pharmacy with a drive-thru, curbside and home delivery service  and a True Texas BBQ restaurant. 

    H-E-B has long been a powerhouse retailer in south and central Texas. It opened its first store in the Dallas area in September 2022, in Frisco, which was followed by locations in Plano and McKinney.

    Earlier this year, the company announced the first expansion of its value retail concept, Joe V’s Smart Shop, outside of Houston. It plans to open two locations in Dallas, with one (Wheatland Rd.) opening in late summer 2024 and the other (Buckner Blvd.) opening in spring 2025.

    Launched in 2010 and with nine locations to date, Joe V’s Smart Shop is described as an “innovative price format” that delivers a curated assortment of items, including the  “most relevant high-quality, fresh products H-E-B is known for at even lower prices.”  

    Stores average 55,000 sq.-ft. and carry tortillas and sushi made in-house along with chef-inspired meals, fresh cut fruit, in-store cut meat and more. H-E-B said it leverages operational efficiencies and new technologies to keep prices low.


  • 9/21/2023

    Chico’s vet joins c-suite at Purple

    Purple has ended its search for a new finance head. 

    The digitally native, comfort bedding retailer has appointed Todd Vogensen as CFO, effective October 16.  He replaces Bennett Nussbaum who has been serving as interim CFO since August 2021. 

    Most recently, from 2020 to August  2023, Vogensen led the finance team at Party City as CFO, where he has played a critical role in evolving the finance organization and the strategic direction of the company, which is set to emerge from bankruptcy with its debt reduced by nearly $1 billion.

    Prior to Party City, Vogensen spent 10 years at Chico’s FAS, including serving as CFO, from 2014 to 2020. Before Party City, he was with Michaels. 

    "I am thrilled to welcome Todd Vogensen to our senior leadership team where he will oversee our finance team and drive our path to premium sleep," said CEO Rob DeMartini, who was named CEO in March. "Vogensen is an experienced leader who has deep skill in scaling organizations through thoughtful FP&A and a focus on organizational transformation."

    Purple operates more than 57 stores along with its e-commerce site. Its products are also sold in some 3,000 retailers nationwide. In addition to the company’s signature mattress,  its assortment includes pillows, cushions, frames and sheets. 


  • 9/20/2023

    Massage Envy unveils new clinic concept

    Massage Envy has debuted a new look at its location in Mesa, Ariz.

    Massage Envy is updating its customer experience. 

    The company’s new clinic concept is designed to transform the way guests and members experience wellness through skin care, massage and recovery services. Located in Mesa, Ariz., the redesigned location reflects Massage Envy’s increased focus on skin care and recovery  services while building on its heritage of massage. 

    The brightly lit space showcases the brand’s both new and well-loved service offerings. Featuring an open concept, customers can watch as advanced skin care devices and products are used to create the ultimate skin care experience for patrons. Licensed Estheticians are available to curate a specialized home care routine to ensure patrons have the necessary tools to get results at home using professional products that are available for purchase. 

    The new recovery zone features innovative body care technologies to help guests on their road to total body wellness. The location features  cutting-edge technologies not currently available at other Massage Envy locations, including full body LED light therapy, compression therapy, therasound experience and more.

    These rooms feature massage tables that include enhanced technology to stimulate the senses, from heat to vibration to sound. Patented technology allows the perfect level of support and comfort for each user, taking pressure off select areas of the body.

    Based in Scottsdale, Ariz., Massage Envy has approximately 1,100 franchise locations in 49 states.

  • 9/20/2023

    Amazon integrates Amazon One with FreedomPay

    Amazon One

    Amazon is making its palm-based payment solution available to users of a payment processing platform.

    Now, Amazon Web Services (AWS) is integrating Amazon One with FreedomPay’s commerce technology platform. Initially introduced at two Seattle-area Amazon Go stores in September 2020, Amazon One is designed to let customers use their unique palm signature to pay or present a loyalty card at a store. 

    Amazon One uses computer vision and deep learning techniques, including generative AI , as well as hardware, to create a person’s unique palm signature. Protection is provided by multiple security controls using custom-built algorithms and hardware to create each person’s unique palm signature which is never stored on the device. Instead, these signatures are encrypted and sent to a secure, custom-built area in the cloud.

    By combining Amazon One with the FreedomPay platform, the companies hope to enable retailers to offer a seamless checkout process and a faster way to pay. Shoppers will now be able to use their palm to pay via debit or credit card with FreedomPay using Amazon One. The partnership will also open Amazon One to FreedomPay’s user base, which includes retailers such as Sephora.

    In addition to offering Amazon One as a payment method in its own brick-and-mortar store banners such as Amazon Go, Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods, Amazon also currently partners with third-party retailers such as Hudson and Community Groceries, as well as sports and entertainment venues such as Coors Field in Denver, to provide the biometric payment/verification option.

    "We’re excited to work with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to launch this new solution and to continue building innovative new physical retail experiences," said Chris Kronenthal, president at FreedomPay, in a corporate blog post.

  • 9/18/2023

    Target to hire 100,000 seasonal employees

    target houston

    Target Corp.’s holiday hiring plans are on par with last year.

    The discounter said it plans to hire nearly 100,000 seasonal workers to assist customers, provide same-day fulfillment services and sort and ship orders. It is the same number of associates that Target hired for the 2022 and 2021 holiday seasons.  

    Also similar to last year, the retailer said it is committed to scheduling flexibility for its existing employees and will continue to give them the opportunity to add extra hours to build their desired schedule.  The retailer noted it has successfully established an “On Demand” team — a flexible workforce that includes nearly 45,000 team members — who have the option to pick up shifts on an as-desired basis, depending on staffing needs and team member availability.

    Target announced its hiring plans the day after Macy’s Inc. said it expects to hire for more than 38,000 full- and part-time seasonal positions at its Macy, Bloomingdale’s and Blue Mercury stores, as well as for its distribution centers.

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