REAL ESTATE

Ashley Furniture opens 500th store; 50 more due in 2014

BY Staff Writer

Arcadia, Wis. — Ashley Furniture HomeStore, the largest furniture retailer in the U.S., celebrated the opening of its 500th store in Longview, Texas, on Feb. 21. It is the chain’s 48th store in the Lone Star state.

The company, whose sales exceeded $3 billion in 2013, has 50 additional HomeStore openings on tap in 2014.

"When the first HomeStore opened in 1997 (in Anchorage, Alaska), we were confident that this business model would be capable of providing complete home furniture solutions that would meet or exceed consumer expectations in price, delivery and service," said Todd Wanek, president and CEO of Ashley and Ashley Furniture HomeStore. "It is with a tenacity to never stop innovating that our teams – from the local level to our corporate headquarters – have propelled our growth throughout the last two decades, and with the latest improvements to our operations and customer fulfillment systems, I’m confident that this trend will continue into the future."

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FINANCE

E-commerce helps boost Vitamin Shoppe performance

BY Dan Berthiaume

North Bergen, N.J. – Strong results in its e-commerce segment, along with growing same-store sales and income from Super Supplements stores acquired in the fourth quarter, helped boost the performance of Vitamin Shoppe Inc. during the fourth quarter and fiscal year 2013. On a year-over-year basis, fourth quarter net income grew 15.9% to $11.2 million from $9.7 million.

Net sales in the quarter grew 17% to $256.4 million from $218.9 million and same-store sales rose 4.6%. During the fiscal year, net income increased 9% to $66.5 million from $60.8 million. Net sales grew 15% to about $1.09 billion from $950 million. Same-store sales grew 3.5%.

In addition to 25% e-commerce growth during the fourth quarter, CEO Tony Truesdale also credited the acquisition of Super Supplements and opening of a new distribution center in Ashland, Va.

"We participate in an attractive growth industry,” said Truesdale. “We remain focused on our long-term top and bottom line results and continue to make investments to support our growth. Our business generates strong cash flow, and our balance sheet is solid providing significant financial resources."

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FINANCE

True Value earnings drop on rising sales

BY Dan Berthiaume

Chicago – True Value Company reported declining earnings in the fourth quarter and fiscal year 2013 even as sales moderately increased compared to the same periods a year earlier. The retailer posted quarterly earnings of $12.5 million, a decrease of 57% from $29.1 million for the same period a year ago.

For the full fiscal year, True Value posted earnings of $55.3 million, a decrease of 26.2% from $74.9 million for the same period a year ago. True Value said the profit decrease was primarily driven by a 2012 fourth quarter litigation settlement gain of an ongoing matter.

Fourth quarter revenue was $340.7 million, up 0.2% from $340 million. Full year revenue was $1.41 billion, a 1% increase from about $1.4 billion. Same-store sales improved 2.1% during the fiscal year.

"We ramped things up in late summer, right through December, and I’m pleased to report we ended the year with increases in gross billings, revenue and comparable store sales," said president and CEO John Hartmann. "Our largest increase in both retail and wholesale comp store sales was in the farm, ranch, auto & pet product category. This category was up at wholesale 11.2%."

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