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BY CSA STAFF

Solar Energy Helps Power Staples DC

The largest solar-power installation in New England has been installed at Staples’ 300,000-sq.-ft. retail distribution center (DC) in Killingly, Conn. The 433-kilowatt commercial solar photovoltaic system has the capacity to produce enough clean energy to power 14% of the DC. It is one-and-a-half times the size of a football field and covers nearly 74,000 sq. ft. of roof space. The system is part of Staples’ integrated strategy for achieving a 7% reduction in its U.S. carbon emissions by 2010 on an absolute basis. It was built at no cost to the retailer. Instead, it was made possible through the collaborative effort of the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund (CCEF), which provided a $1.7 million grant for the project, and SunEdison, Baltimore, which financed the remaining costs of the project and designed and installed the system. “Through our relationship with solar-services provider SunEdison, we’re able to purchase solar energy off our rooftop at a rate below or equal to the cost of electricity off the grid,” said Mark Buckley, VP of environmental affairs, Staples, Framingham, Mass. “This reduces our operating costs while freeing up more electricity during peak times for use by local homes and businesses.

Shopping Carts De-Germed With Spray

Festival Foods’ stores in Oshkosh and De Pere, Wis., are among the first in the country to test an innovative purifying system designed to eliminate germs on shopping carts. The system, from PureCart, Wis., sanitizes grocery carts by spraying them with a peroxide-based chemical solution approved by the Food and Drug Administration as being safe for contact with food and people. The no-rinse, lemon-scented solution, which dries in a few minutes, has been proven to kill more than 99% of the bacteria and common viruses found on shopping carts. “Shopping carts are exposed to bacteria and germs from sources like meat products in leaky packages, infants with dirty diapers and illnesses from the general population,” said Jim Kratowicz, president, PureCart, Green Bay, Wis. “Our intent is to limit consumer’s exposure to germs by helping to provide a healthy shopping environment.” The PureCart system consists of a compact spray booth and a separate control unit. Carts are purified as they pass through the booth, which is portable and operates remotely. The booth is equipped with casters that make it easy to place according to store logistics. Child seats and baskets can be purified via an auxiliary spray wand. For retailers, the biggest advantage of the purifying system is the “buzz marketing” it creates, according to Kratowicz. “In exit surveys conducted after the system had been up and running for two months at the Festival Foods locations, 90% of the customers said they had told a friend or family member about PureCart being offered at the store,” he said. And 61% said it now factored into where.

Fixtures Columbus Show Case, Columbus, Ohio, has changed its name to CSC Worldwide. The change reflects the company’s expanded product and service offerings.

In-Store Media PlayNetwork, Redmond, Wash., is providing custom music to Taco Cabana’s 130-plus restaurants. The music is programmed to accommodate various dining dayparts throughout the day.

Doors Chase Industries (DBA Chase Doors), Cincinnati, has acquired Staples & Stevens, Tampa, Fla., a subsidiary of the Burch Corp. Staples & Stevensmakes a complete range of swinging, sliding, sectional and vertical-lift cooler and freezer doors under the ColdGuard brand name.

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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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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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