FINANCE

Ann Inc. Q4 profit plummets; will open 65 stores and close 30 in 2012

BY Katherine Boccaccio

New York City — Ann Inc. reported Friday that net income for its fiscal fourth quarter dropped to $2.2 million from $8 million in the year-ago period, hurt by heavy promotions at namesake stores.

Sales increased to $566.7 million, from $515.3 million, and same-store sales for fourth quarter rose 5.3%.

By brand, same-store sales plummeted 10.9% at namesake stores, but rose 8.1% at Loft stores. Strength in the online channel boosted overall same-store results.

“Our overall bottom-line results were impacted by significantly higher-than-anticipated promotional activity in the Ann Taylor stores channel,” said Kay Krill, president and CEO.

For the full year, sales edged up to $2.2 billion from $2 billion in 2010, and same-store sales increased 6.8%. Profit rose to $86.6 million, compared with $73.4 million last year.

The company said it is on track to open 65 new stores in fiscal 2012, which will be partially offset by downsizes at Ann Taylor stores and about 30 store closures.

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Delhaize to close 146 stores on falling profits

BY CSA STAFF

NEW YORK — Belgian supermarket operator Delhaize Group said that its fourth quarter net profit dropped 48%, hurt by impairments resulting from its restructuring. It also announced that Mats Jansson will be the new chairman of the board, and that Pierre Bouchut will succeed Stefan Descheemaeker as CFO, effective March 19.

The company, whose U.S. holdings include the Food Lion, Hannaford Bros. and Sweetbay banners, said it will accelerate the revamp of its stores in the United States and Belgium to increase its competitiveness.

It will close 146 underperforming stores, mainly in the United States. The company will also convert existing supermarkets to its discount formula Bottom Dollar Food and open between 20 and 50 new stores this year.

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Retailers take American Express track to new discount program

BY CSA STAFF

NEW YORK — McDonald’s, Whole Foods Market and Best Buy are among the retailers participating in a new American Express program that allows shoppers to load discounts onto their American Express cards via Twitter.

Under the program American Express card members can sync their card with Twitter at sync.americanexpress.com/twitter, and when they tweet using special offer hashtags, couponless savings are loaded directly to their synced cards. When the card members subsequently use their synced card for qualifying purchases online or in-store at participating merchants, the savings are automatically delivered via a statement credit within days.

“American Express is turning Twitter content into commerce by connecting card members to merchants and delivering real world value to both," said Ed Gilligan, vice chairman, American Express. "With the continued convergence of online and offline commerce, our closed loop continues to enable us to bring seamless, relevant ways to connect our card members and merchants on the most powerful social and digital platforms."

Other retailers participating in the program include 1-800-Flowers.com, Century 21 Department Store, The Cheesecake Factory, Dell, The Sports Authority, and Zappos.com.

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