FINANCE

99 Cents Only net loss widens in fiscal 2014

BY Dan Berthiaume

City of Commerce, Calif. – 99 Cents Only Stores LLC reported a widening net loss in an abbreviated 10-month fiscal 2014 which was shortened from the Saturday closest to the end of March to the Friday closest to the end of January. Net loss grew to $12.48 million from $8.9 million.

Total net sales were $1.53 billion, down 8% from $1.66 billion. Same-store sales rose 3.7%.

"We are pleased with the progress we have made on implementing our strategic plan to accelerate store growth and improve sales and margin," said Stephane Gonthier, CEO of 99 Cents Only. “We are also encouraged by the favorable responses from our consumers to our ‘Go-Taller’ program, which has retrofitted the display shelving from a height of 54 inches to 78 inches at 64 of our stores in the past two months. We are on track to complete the retrofits by September 2014.

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FINANCE

Weather impacts preliminary Hhgregg Q4 sales

BY Dan Berthiaume

Indianapolis – Hhgregg Inc. cited extreme weather as a major factor in preliminary sales declines it reported for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2014. The retailer estimates net sales to be approximately $538.3 million, a decrease of approximately 9.9% as compared to net sales of $597.6 million reported for the fourth fiscal quarter of 2013.

Fourth fiscal quarter comparable store sales are estimated to have decreased approximately 9.9%. In addition to severe weather, during the quarter Hhgregg also decided to exit the contract-based mobile phone business.

“We faced a number of headwinds during the quarter, which led to disappointing financial results,” said Dennis May, president and CEO. “Extreme weather in January, February and the beginning of March negatively impacted traffic and operating performance in the majority of our stores, particularly those located in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions, where the weather was the most severe. While we are disappointed in our preliminary results, we remain focused on executing our strategic initiatives to transform the business by refining our merchandise assortment, improving our customer shopping experience, expanding our credit offerings and enhancing our service capabilities.”

Looking ahead, Hhgregg expects net sales of approximately $2.4 billion for the full fiscal year 2014. The retailer also expects a renewed interest in the video category due to innovation in TVs, and will shift from carrying one furniture brand to five furniture brands by early summer 2014.

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REAL ESTATE

Natural Grocers opens Utah store

BY Dan Berthiaume

Lakewood, Colo. – Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage Inc. has opened a store in Logan, Utah. The Logan store is its second Utah location.

"We are thrilled to expand our nutrition expertise and delicious food options to Logan," said Kemper Isely, co-president of Natural Grocers. "We look forward to engaging with the local community about healthy living."

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