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Barnes & Noble Q4 loss widens

BY CSA STAFF

New York City Barnes & Noble’s fiscal fourth-quarter loss widened as it invested in electronic book technology, the bookseller said Monday. The company also forecast first-quarter and full-year earnings below expectations as it plots aggressive moves into the small but fast-growing e-book market.

The loss for the three months ended May totaled $32 million, compared with a loss of $2.7 million last year.

Revenue rose 19% to $1.32 billion from $1.1 billion last year. Same-store sales fell 3.1%.

Going forward, Barnes & Noble is focusing on e-books and its e-book reader Nook to counter increased online competition and discounters.

In March, the company highlighted the importance of the electronic business by elevating the president of its website, William Lynch, to CEO. Former CEO Steve Riggio was appointed vice chairman.

Lynch helped launch the company’s electronic bookstore and oversaw the introduction of the Nook.

Lynch said in a statement that only a year after the Barnes and Noble e-bookstore launched, the company’s share of the digital market already exceeds its share of the retail book market.

“We are planning to redirect a significant portion of our financial resources towards investments in technology, sales and marketing,” he said. “These investments will impact our bottom line in 2011, but we believe they will enable Barnes & Noble to capitalize on the significant mid- to long-term growth opportunities presented by the digital markets.”

For the fiscal year, Barnes & Noble profit fell 52% to $36.7 million, from $75.9 million last year.

Revenue rose 13% to $5.81 billion from $5.12 billion.

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Home goods looking good, for some

BY CSA STAFF

The success one retailer has in a given category can oftentimes be an indicator of a rising tide lifting all boats, which is why results last week from Bed Bath & Beyond are of particular interest to Target. The home goods specialist said first-quarter sales for the period ended May 29 increased 13.5% to $1.9 billion and same-store sales increased 8.4%. Earnings per share surged 53% to 52 cents a share.

Target is a major player in the home category, and last year it said the home furnishings and decor category accounted for 19% of total sales of $63.4 billion. As defined by Target, the category includes furniture, lighting, kitchenware, small appliances, home decor, bed and bath, home improvement, automotive and such seasonal merchandise sas patio furniture and holiday decor.

A strong performance by Bed Bath & Beyond is either an indication that the overall category is looking up, despite some significant ongoing difficulties in the housing market, or simply an example of a well-positioned superior operator gaining share from competitors, one of whom is possibly Target. The company has certainly had mixed things to say about the home category during the three month period that overlaps with Bed Bath & Beyond’s first quarter. For example, In May, comps in home were down slightly with a low single digit increase in the decorative home category and softness in housewares. In April, comps were moderately better than the total company decline of 5.9% and were led by a low single digit increase in the decorative home category with the softest performance in seasonal categories. In March, comps in home increased in the mid-to-upper single-digit range with the strongest results in the seasonal categories and weaker performance in housewares.

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Former Ace director dies at 89

BY CSA STAFF

Gregg Ziegler, the past director and vice chairman of Ace Hardware Corp.’s board of directors, was laid to rest last week. He was 89.

The World War II veteran joined the family business, Ziegler’s Ace Hardware, after graduating from college in 1947. He was the recipient of the 1983 Illinois Retail Merchants Association’s Retailer of the Year. Today, Ziegler’s Ace operates 11 locations in Illinois.

According to his obituary in the Chicago Tribune, Ziegler was also an accomplished driver who set the NASCAR record for the Flying Mile event at Daytona Beach in 1960.

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