NRF asks judge to act on swipe fees
The National Retail Federation today asked a federal judge to “right or reject” a proposed settlement of an antitrust lawsuit over credit card swipe fees, saying the measure needs to be rewritten to do more to bring the soaring fees under control and that retailers who don’t support it should be allowed to completely opt out.
“The proposed settlement is next to worthless,” NRF Senior Vice President and General Counsel Mallory Duncan said. “It does nothing to reduce swipe fees or keep them from rising in the future, it offers retailers pennies on the dollar for the damage that has already been done, and it tries to tie merchants’ hands from ever suing again. This is actually worse than no settlement at all because it further entrenches the monopoly held by the card companies.”
“This proposal has not been agreed to by the retail industry by any stretch of the imagination,” Duncan said. “Thousands of retailers have flatly rejected the settlement, including many of the nation’s best-known brands. This is a backroom deal being pushed by the card industry and trial lawyers more concerned about their fees than protecting retailers or consumers.”
Attorneys representing NRF are scheduled to appear before U.S. District Court Judge John Gleeson in Brooklyn, N.Y., today for a hearing on final approval of the settlement. NRF argued in a brief filed this spring that the proposal “gives the credit card networks carte blanche to set and manipulate interchange rates” while giving retailers nothing in return.
Close to 8,000 merchants, representing at least 25 percent of Visa and MasterCard volume, have opted out of the $7.25 billion originally offered by the settlement. But the unusual structure of the proposal blocks them from opting out of other terms and conditions, including a ban on future lawsuits over the issue. NRF attorney Andrew Celli argued that retailers should instead be given the ability to fully opt out of the settlement.
DA-Pro Group event heads to Marco Island
Home improvement industry manufacturers and vendors will have the opportunity to meet with Distribution America (DA) officials and Pro Group leaders during the 2014 Executive Planning Conference (EPC) Nov. 13-15 at the Marco Island Marriott Resort & Spa in Florida.
Steve Synnott, CEO of Denver-based Pro Group Inc., said: "word is catching on about this year’s event, as all vendor categories are showing growth – a sign that vendors have heard about success stories from companies increasing their business with the help of past EPCs."
"There are quite a number of vendors that have derived great returns by supporting the EPC, including names like Coleman Cable and Jack Links Beef Jerky" he said.
The conference comes at a time where a sluggish start to 2013 is evaporating. "Vendors and retailers are seeing solid late-year sales boosts," according to Dave Christmas, president of Charlotte, NC-based Distribution America.
"Weather issues earlier in the year slowed things down a bit, but the past four or five months have been strong across the country," Christmas said. "We expect continued improvement and our Conference in November will allow us to discuss growth opportunities with all of our major vendors. Additionally, the conference is a great venue to meet with new vendors and to see new concepts."
The event is the result of a continued partnership between DA and Pro Group. The companies hosted separate annual events in the past, but since combining resources, have reduced travel days, expenses and increased efficiency for vendors, according to both companies.
Orchard Supply launches mobile app for Founder’s Day
After months of bankruptcy and acquisition dealings, Orchard Supply Hardware is back in the news with the announcement of a new mobile app in honor of the company’s annual Founder’s Day event, which kicked off on Sept. 8.
“As we honor the Company’s heritage, our new mobile app is a great example of the future of our business and how we are continuing to bolster the high-quality service and advice our customers have always found at Orchard,” said Richard Maltsbarger, president of Orchard.
Celebrating 82 years in business, the app will help customers shop and take advantage of special savings during the event, as well as get "how to" advice for home and garden projects. Weekly ads will promote home improvement ideas and special product offers, and social features will allow users to check in at stores, earn and redeem Club Orchard points, unlock special promotions and share via Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest.
“Since this business was founded, Orchard’s values have been based on neighbors helping neighbors," Maltsbarger continued. "Our motto for the fall season is ‘simple solutions’ and we are excited to celebrate more than 80 years in business and the continuing loyalty of our customers by offering a tool that makes it easier to shop and complete their home improvement projects. We look forward to continuing to strengthen and grow our business and to being a vibrant member of our local communities for many more years.”