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BY CSA STAFF

Mervyns Completes POS Conversion

Mervyns’ decision to replace its point-of-sale system was part of what the chain describes as a major strategic-technology initiative. The front-end conversion also marked a significant milestone for the company.

The extensive POS conversion, which took a speedy 12 weeks, also prompted Mervyns to make technology partner NCR its go-to source for POS technology and installation services on new locations set to open this year.

When the chain began evaluating its POS options early last year, it wanted a system that could meet “the demanding environment of a busy retail department store,” said Kurt Streitz, the chain’s senior VP and CIO. “Equally important, we needed to have the complete store solution deployed in a short time frame, with no disruption to store operations.”

The ideal solution, from NCR, was RealPOS 70 workstations, each complete with a touchscreen cashier interface, and RealPOS 7167 multifunction thermal printers. NCR’s Retail Deployment Services team managed the entire rollout, including loading the software, and staging and testing all NCR and third-party components.

“We were impressed by the team’s extensive experience in managing large, complex rollouts and their ability to meet aggressive deadlines,” Streitz said. “Each of our store environments is different in one way or another, and NCR brought ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking to each site, ensuring an on-time, successful conversion.”

The installations took place after store hours, and the team was able to convert up to five stores per night.

This pace enabled the team to convert more than 4,000 POS units at the chain’s 173 locations between midMay and the first week of August 2006, according to Streitz. Based on this milestone, he added, the chain will also use NCR’s services as it opens four more locations this year.

Pacific Sunwear Boosts Reporting With BI Solutions

Pacific Sunwear of California, a leading specialty retailer of casual apparel, accessories and footwear, operates three distinct retail concepts. By using the Business Intelligence Platform, from McLean, Va.-based Microstrategy, for its enterprise-wide reporting and analytics, the company is gaining insight into sales trends, inventory management, store operations and customer loyalty across its brands.

Outfitted with the new BI platform, Pacific Sunwear is gaining a way to convert detailed transactional data into personalized reports through dashboard and exception reporting for its executives, merchandise planners and allocators. The chain chose the solution based on its ease of use, its Web-based platform, and reporting and analytical functionality.

“This solution was the best fit for our business-intelligence requirements,” said Ron Ehlers, Pacific Sunwear’s VP of information services. “It is a true enterprise-reporting solution, with scalability for large databases and powerful analytics that will help us to make data-driven decisions and enhance productivity.”

The Anaheim, Calif-based chain declined to share when it added the solution.

Jungle Jim’s Adds Mobile Barcode Printer

Fairfield, Ohio-based Jungle Jim’s, a one-store grocery retailer with approximately $90 million in annual sales, is improving an already unique shopping experience with a set of new bar-code printers.

The 300,000-sq.-ft. grocery store features 110,000 items, including 44,000 items imported from more than 75 countries. However, a majority of this merchandise arrives at the store without price or UPC (Universal Product Code) barcodes.

Even with a work force of more than 300 people, the retailer knew it was a labor-intensive and time-consuming process to label merchandise internally with outdated units. By adding the handheld Monarch Pathfinder Ultra Platinum printer from White Plains, N.Y-based Paxar, the grocer is making the process more efficient and accurate.

The Ultra Platinum printer, which replaces DOS-based and older stationary Paxar printers, enables Jungle Jim’s employees to carry the handheld printers as they print UPC barcode labels. Users tap the touchscreen to access the printing application, then the label is immediately printed and applied to the item.

A Windows CE platform makes the unit compatible with the store’s operating system, and it supports customized software.

To date, the grocer uses four printers to label thousands of items per week, primarily products that are imported from outside of the country, according to Paxar.

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Sears comps hurt by energy costs

BY CSA STAFF

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. Sears Holdings today reported net income of $216 million, or $1.40 per diluted share, for the first quarter ended May 5, compared with net income of $180 million, or $1.14 per diluted share, for the first quarter ended April 29, 2006.

“In part, our domestic operating results reflect the impact of some of the same challenges being faced by our customers, such as rising energy costs and a slower housing market,” said Aylwin Lewis, Sears Holdings’ ceo and president. “However, as an organization, we need to overcome these factors by better controlling costs and developing innovative solutions that better meet our customers’ needs and allow us to generate a more reasonable level of profitability even in the face of such challenges.”

Domestic comparable-store sales declined 3.9% during the first quarter of fiscal 2007. Sears domestic comparable-store sales declined 3.4% for the quarter, while Kmart comparable-store sales declined 4.4%. We believe these declines reflect both increased competition and the impact of external factors such as rising energy costs, a slower housing market and poor weather conditions during the latter part of the first quarter of fiscal 2007. Kmart experienced lower transaction volumes across most merchandise categories, most notably within home goods, health and beauty products, and food and consumables. Similarly, Sears domestic recorded comparable-store sales declines across most merchandise categories and formats, with a notable decline in home appliance sales, which we believe reflects both a slower U.S. housing market and the impact of increased competition.

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Big Lots 1Q net sales up 3.4%

BY CSA STAFF

COLUMBUS, Ohio Big Lots today reported first quarter fiscal 2007 income from continuing operations of $29 million, or 26 cents per diluted share, compared to income from continuing operations of $14.5 million, or 13 cents per diluted share, in the first quarter of fiscal 2006. Including the impact of discontinued operations, first quarter fiscal 2007 net income totaled $28.8 million, or 26 cents per diluted share, compared to $13.7 million, or 12 cents per diluted share, in the prior year.

Net sales for the first quarter ended May 5, increased 3.4% to $1.13 billion, compared to $1.1 billion for the same period in fiscal 2006. Comparable-store sales for stores open at least two years at the beginning of the fiscal year increased 4.9% for the quarter.

For the second quarter 2007, the company expects income from continuing operations of 7 cents to 10 cents per share versus income from continuing operations of 4 cents per share last year. Comparable-store sales are expected to increase 2% to 4%, compared to a 5.2% comparable-store sales increase recorded last year.

For fiscal 2007, the company expects income from continuing operations of $1.25 to $1.30 per share versus income from continuing operations of $1.01 per share last year.

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