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Inside Out view marks more sales


EVEN THOUGH only seven of the top 15 films this summer were available in 3D – the comparable figures last year were nine and 15 – cinema group Marcus Theaters’ total box-office revenues were higher thanks to Jurassic World, below, and higher ticket prices.

The theater chain also made 13 per cent more in concession sales because two of its top three films were family movies – Minions and Inside Out – and families buy more popcorn and soda than adult-only customers.
Short-term homes
Although first-time home purchasers have slowly started to return to the housing market, they are doing so more slowly than home builder Lennar Corp expected and more slowly than the company has historically encountered.
As a result, it is readjusting the profile of its target buyer. About 30 per cent of its homebuilding business continues to be geared to first-time home purchasers, up from 25 per cent last year, but its new, broader household strategy is aimed primarily at the rental market.
Down slope
Skiing center Vail Resorts is spending $50m to connect Utah’s Park City and Canyons resorts for the upcoming 2015-2016 ski season. The effort, one of the most ambitious investments in the US ski industry’s history, is on schedule and on budget and will make the area the largest ski resort in the United States.
In stock?
There are 21,000 items – known as stock-keeping units, or SKUs – in an average AutoZone store and its inventory turns at a relatively low rate around 1.5 times per year.
Ultimately, the vast majority of SKUs each location has on hand is present in a quantity of one. This means that, given the randomness of demand, there is a lot of potential for out-of-stock items.
Back to basics
Now that all food from Chipotle Mexican Grill is made entirely from non-genetically modified ingredients – its artisan-made tortillas have only five ingredients, flour, water, starter, vegetable oil and salt – the food chain is setting its sights on making the tortillas even better.
“While this might sound like a relatively simple undertaking, it’s actually quite a challenge because one has to account for a number of variables – moisture in the flour, temperature and humidity in the bakery, strength of the starter, etc” says Chipotle’s Steve Ells.
“And many of the chemical additives in commercial tortillas are designed to mitigate these variables.”
Online help
Only 26 per cent of people have heard of online review platform Yelp. So the service is spending $30m to launch an advertising campaign to raise its brand awareness.
Carb winners
Restaurant chain Olive Garden’s sales grew by 5.7 per cent during the most recent quarter thanks to its newly introduced breadstick sandwiches.
The group pulled out all the stops to make sure people knew about the new menu item. Its food trucks made 80 stops in 20 different cities to hand out more than 50,000 samples.
The breadstick sandwiches campaign generated 820 million page impressions across traditional and social media for the company.
Food trend
Despite a recent pack recall, cereal manufacturer General Mills is about to make 90 per cent of its Cheerios brand gluten-free and the company is making it an unmissable event in stores.
This fall, it will place 35,000 full pallets of Cheerios on display across all its retailers, making its gluten-free introduction one of the largest merchandising events in GM’s history.
Bunny boost
Last year, sports retailer Finish Line acquired Running Sports Group and now the chain is to rebrand the shops under the name JackRabbit during the next two years. Apparently, it’s a better hit with consumers.
In March, Finish Line bought the New York City-based specialty running retailer and, after extensive research, found that its name resonates better with a broad audience of US consumers.
Voice control
Cable-TV provider Comcast has started offering a voice-activated remote control and has delivered more than one million in the past few months. Customers are ordering the remote at the rate of 70,000 a week.
Frozen upgrade
Beleaguered food giant ConAgra is giving its frozen-food brand Banquet a complete overhaul. That means increasing its food-sales quantity and improving food quality, along with a “much needed modernization” of packaging and higher retail pricing, the brand’s parent company says.

HAL’s pal nails 2015 plane oddities
AIRCRAFT manufacturer Pratt & Whitney has turned to IBM to help understand its engine information.
P&W generated about a terabyte an hour of raw data across 4,500 data fields in the past year and had about two years’ worth of data to be checked out.
After 18 months’ worth of work with the P&W data to help predict the events of the past six months, IBM proved 97.4 per cent accurate on being able to identify not just what was going to go wrong with the engine but why it was going to go wrong and, maybe most importantly, when it was going to go wrong.

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