retail news in context, analysis with attitude

...with brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

• Unhappy with the fact that the Jos. A. Bank men's clothing chain tried to acquire it for $2.3 billion, a bid that was rejected, Men's Wearhouse has turned around and made a bid to buy Jos. A. Bank, valuing the smaller retailer at $1.5 billion.

The New York Times reports that since both sides have acknowledged that some sort of deal makes sense, "there is reason to believe Men’s Wearhouse now has the upper hand. Jos. A. Bank shareholders will expect management to engage in discussions, and Eminence Capital, a hedge fund that owns 10 percent of Men’s Wearhouse shares, cheered the offer."

• The Boston Globe reports that Avis-owned Zipcar has unveiled a new plan "that gives members more flexibility in how they pay their membership fees and that may entice more people to give Zipcar a try. The new option gives members the option to pay membership fees on a monthly basis rather than once a year. In the past, members have paid a one-time application fee of $25 and an annual membership of $60. Members can still choose to pay that way, but now they also have another option. With the monthly plan, a new member would pay $6 a month along with the $25 application fee."

I know that Zipcar management is positioning this as being about flexibility, but I cannot help but wonder if it also has something to do with increased competition from other car sharing services.

BTW … I have no idea if it has anything to do with the $500 million acquisition of Zipcar by Avis, but I've noticed lately that there seem to be a lot fewer Minis for rent than there used to be. I'm still a fan of Zipcar and use it often, but I sort of miss being able to rent a Mini convertible for a few hours….

The question, for me, is whether Avis is watering down to me what was one of Zipcar's stronger selling points. Which would not be a good thing, in the long run…

KC's View: