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Basch Report
Jax Daily Record Thursday, Jun. 17, 202105:10 AM EST

St. Johns Town Center RH one of four to open this year

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The company’s CEO says the store opens a new market in Florida.
by: Mark Basch Contributing Writer

Almost a year later than planned, the RH Design Gallery in Jacksonville is preparing to open and the timing works out perfectly, according to RH Chief Executive Gary Friedman.

During RH’s quarterly conference call last week, Friedman said people are just getting around to homebuilding and remodeling projects that were delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“All of that means that they haven’t bought their furniture yet, right? We’re kind of the last stop on the journey. So, there is this kind of pent-up demand back up,” he said.

RH is a luxury furnishings retailer that operated 68 galleries as of May 1, including 24 under its Design Gallery concept.

The Jacksonville store is one of four Design Galleries scheduled to open this year, Friedman said during the conference call. 

The company won’t say exactly when it will open but signs at the construction site at the St. Johns Town Center say it is opening in summer 2021.

The gallery’s features include an outdoor garden terrace and rooftop restaurant, which Friedman said differentiates RH from other retailers.

“All you need to do is walk a mall to notice most retail stores are archaic windowless boxes that lack any sense of humanity. There’s generally no fresh air or natural light. Plants die in most retail stores and they can’t be a good environment for humans either,” he said.

“That’s why we don’t build retail stores, we create inspiring spaces” that feature “fresh air and natural light with garden courtyards, rooftop parks, restaurants and wine bars,” he said.

RH, formerly known as Restoration Hardware, opened an outlet store in Jacksonville in 2016 near The Avenues mall on the Southside but that store closed in 2019. 

“Most of our galleries in North America are replacement galleries. There are just a couple, like Jacksonville, you can argue that’s a new market expanding into Florida,” Friedman said.

The $18 million, 48,431-square-foot Jacksonville gallery is under construction at 4831 Village Shops Way, east of the Tesla showroom at the Town Center.

RH said revenue for its first quarter ended May 2 jumped 78% to $860.8 million in a pandemic recovery and adjusted earnings quadrupled to $142.3 million, or $4.89 a share.

Foley retires as Black Knight chairman

As Black Knight Inc. held its annual shareholders meeting this week, Bill Foley retired as chairman and a director of the Jacksonville-based mortgage technology company.

CEO Anthony Jabbour will take on the additional role of chairman of the board, while Foley will serve as chairman emeritus.

Black Knight was spun off from Jacksonville-based title insurer Fidelity National Financial Inc. Foley remains chairman of that company.

Foley also is chairman of Dun & Bradstreet Holdings Inc. and Jabbour is CEO of that company. Jabbour took on that role when an investor group including Black Knight bought Dun & Bradstreet in 2019.

Dun & Bradstreet is moving its headquarters to Jacksonville this year.

FIS adds Hawkins as board member

Fidelity National Information Services Inc., or FIS, added a director to its board last week.

The financial technology company, which also was spun off from Fidelity National Financial, said Mark Hawkins joined the board.

Hawkins was president and chief financial officer of Salesforce.com but resigned in February after the company announced a merger agreement with Slack Technologies.

Hawkins now is president and chief financial officer emeritus of Salesforce.

FIS downgraded by Truist analyst

Truist Securities analyst Andrew Jeffrey downgraded FIS and its financial technology competitor, Fiserv Inc., from “buy” to “hold” because of slower growth potential.

“While we see nothing wrong w/these companies, we expect valuations to contract as investors contemplate slowing Merchant segment organic revenue growth and lack of strategic optionality,” Jeffrey said last week in his research note.

“Both Fidelity and Fiserv have strong non-Merchant offerings, in our view, but we think slowing segment top-line growth will outweigh steadier Core Processing, Issuer Processing and other Payments performance,” he said.

FIS mainly provided technology for banks but expanded its technology for merchants with its 2019 acquisition of Worldpay Inc.

International Baler sales increase

International Baler Corp. reported sales for its second quarter ended April 30 jumped 31% to $2.638 million.

The Jacksonville-based company, which makes balers used for recycling and waste disposal, reported a minimal net loss of $4,046 for the quarter.

International Baler’s quarterly report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission said the sales increase resulted from improved markets, after the COVID-19 pandemic affected results in the second quarter of fiscal 2020.

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