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BY CSA STAFF

DATA SECURITY

Piggly Wiggly, aCharleston, S.C.-based supermarket company with 111 stores in the Southeast, selected San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco Systems’ Payment Card Industry (PCI) Solution for Retail to help ensure data security by safeguarding cardholder information and corporate assets. With the PCI-compliant solution, Piggly Wiggly can offer in-store and online shoppers a highly secure shopping experience.

CASH CONTROL

A recently patented system allows retailers to create a centralized electronic safe and digitally linked accounting network for cost-effective and secure cash handling. FireKing Security Group of New Albany, Ind., created a system whereby electronic safes placed at cash registers throughout a store can be networked together as one system, vastly simplifying the accounting process and adding efficiency to the cash-handling process. The system enables automation of the cash-reconciliation process with the POS system and allows for remote administration and updating from a centralized, remote location.

AFFORDABLE BIOMETRICS

StoreNext Retail Technologies, Plano, Texas, and Pay By Touch, San Francisco, have partnered to provide independent grocers with high-service, lower-cost biometric authentication and payment services. The joint solution will minimize grocers’ transaction costs while allowing shoppers to pay for purchases with the simple touch of a finger.

MOBILE PAYMENTS

HSBC Credit Card Services, Santa Clara, Calif., in partnership with MasterCard and ViVOtech, has launched a mobile phone payments pilot. The mobile phones, which feature Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, enable users to make contactless credit-card purchases at any retailer accepting PayPass. Approximately 36,000 merchant locations around the world now accept PayPass, including 7-Eleven Stores, McDonald’s, CVS, Duane Reade and Sheetz.

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FINANCE

Home Depot Projects Lower Profit in 2007

BY CSA STAFF

Atlanta, The Home Depot Inc. said Wednesday it will pump $2.2 billion into improving its business this year even as it expects lower earnings and slim sales growth. Home Depot said that for fiscal 2007 it expects sales growth in the range of flat to an increase of 2%, a decline in comp-store sales in the middle single digit percentages and an earnings per share decline of 4% to 9%.

Including the effect of a 53rd week in its fiscal year, consolidated sales are expected to increase by 1% to 2%, and earnings per share are expected to decline by 3% to 8%, Home Depot said.

CEO Frank Blake told investors at Wednesday’s conference that like last year, “2007 also will be a difficult year.” But he said it will be a year of focus on Home Depot’s priorities and a year with “hopefully less noise.”

The “noise” was apparently a reference to the investor furor over former CEO Bob Nardelli’s hefty compensation in light of the company’s lagging stock price. Nardelli resigned in early January after six years at the helm of the company. He took with him a severance package valued at $210 million.

To improve its business, Home Depot said it will invest $2.2 billion this fiscal year in key priorities, including the opening of 115 stores. The investment includes $1.6 billion in capital spending and $600 million in expense.

Home Depot said it will recruit master trade specialists, simplify its staffing model, use more technology to aid customer service, and redesign employee compensation and reward plans. It also will invest in new merchandise and review its pricing strategies. Additionally, the chain will spend money on customer loyalty programs, direct-ship programs, credit programs and other specialty sales initiatives.

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FINANCE

Federated Plans Name Change

BY CSA STAFF

New York City, Federated Department Stores on Tuesday said it would ask shareholders to approve changing the company’s corporate name to Macy’s Group Inc. A vote to amend the corporation’s charter to accommodate the new name will be held in conjunction with Federated’s annual meeting on May 18. If approved, the company will be known as Macy’s Group Inc., effective June 1. The move comes on the heels of the company changing most of its store nameplates to Macy’s.

“Macy’s Group is the appropriate name for our company, given that about 90% of our sales involve the Macy’s brand. That said, Bloomingdale’s is—and will remain—a very important part of our company,” said Terry J. Lundgren, Federated’s chief executive. Federated Department Stores also said stronger sales at established stores and lower costs drove a 5% rise in fourth-quarter earnings. For the quarter ended Feb. 3, net income rose to $733 million from $699 million the prior-year period. Sales fell 4% to $9.16 billion from $9.57 billion, as the company shuttered 80 “duplicative” store locations. Comp-store sales rose 6.1% in the quarter.

During the quarter, Federated lowered its selling, general and administrative costs 11% to $2.31 billion.

The company also announced a $4 billion increase to its stock buyback program and said it will immediately repurchase 45 million shares for $2 billion under the plan.

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