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Barnes & Noble swings to Q4 loss on sharp decline in Nook e-book sales

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Barnes & Noble reported on Thursday a loss in the fiscal third quarter, hurt by a 26% decline in revenue for its Nook e-book readers.

The company posted a loss of $6.1 million quarter through Jan. 26, compared to a profit of $52 million in the year-ago period. The retailer blamed the loss partially on charges stemming from weaker-than-expected sales of Nook e-readers during the holiday shopping season.

Revenue fell 9% to $2.22 billion. Analysts had predicted sales of $2.4 billion.

Revenue from the company’s retail unit dropped 10% to $1.51 billion. Same-store sales fell 7.3%. Excluding Nook sales, same-store sales edged down 2.2%.

Barnes & Noble released its results just days after company founder, chairman and largest shareholder, Leonard Riggio, announced plans to offer to buy the physical bookstores and website of Barnes & Noble, but not the Nook unit. On Thursday, the company said it has appointed board members to evaluate a proposal when it is made.

In response to the Nook sales shortfall over the holiday season, Barnes & Noble said Nook is calibrating its business model and has implemented a cost reduction program that the company projects will significantly reduce the related expenses.

“In terms of the Nook Media business, we’ve taken significant actions to begin to right size our cost structure in the Nook segment, while also taking a large markdown on Nook devices in order to enhance our ability to achieve our estimated sales plans in subsequent quarters,” stated William Lynch, CEO of Barnes & Noble. “Nook Media has been financing itself since October of 2012 due to the strong investment partners we’ve been able to attract in Microsoft and Pearson. Coming off the holiday shortfall, we’re in the process of making some adjustments to our strategy as we continue to pursue the exciting growth opportunities ahead for us in the consumer and digital education content markets.”

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ShopKeep POS earns customer service award

BY CSA STAFF

NEW YORK — ShopKeep POS was presented with a Bronze Stevie Award for Front-Line Customer Service Team of the Year in the Computer Hardware, Services & Software category at the seventh annual Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service. Other finalists in this category included Rackspace Hosting and nFocus Solutions.

ShopKeep POS was founded in 2008 by Jason Richelson, a former multi-store retailer in NYC, whose keen eye for merchant pain points and needs has influenced how he has built every inch of the company.

"We have the best customer care in the business because we care about our customers and listen to what they are saying," says Jason Richelson, CEO and founder of ShopKeep POS. "It sounds simple but most companies can’t get it right. When you listen to your customers you learn a lot from them. You figure out very quickly what you are doing right and what needs to change."

The company’s merchant onboarding and training process is incredibly simple, allowing businesses to get started in minutes. Once that happens, product updates and feature enhancements are primarily driven by merchant requests and merchants are empowered to provide feedback publicly on the company’s Get Satisfaction community board.

The Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service are the world’s top sales awards, contact center awards, and customer service awards. More than 1,100 entries from organizations of all sizes and in virtually every industry were submitted to this year’s competition, an increase of 10% over 2012. More than 100 members of eight specialized judging committees determined Stevie Award placements from among the Finalists during final judging this year.

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Sears narrows Q4 loss

BY Staff Writer

Hoffman Estates, Ill. — Sears Holding Corp. said its net loss for the quarter ended on Feb. 2 narrowed to $489 million from $2.4 billion a year earlier. Total costs dropped 2.2% to $12.88 billion in the fourth quarter.

Revenue declined 1.8% to $12.26 billion, but beat analysts’ average estimate of $11.77 billion.

Sears results came weeks after the company’s chairman and largest shareholder, Edward Lampert, took the reins as CEO in the wake of the departure of Louis D’Ambrosio, who resigned for a family-related health problem.

Sears domestic’s comparable-store sales improved 0.8% in the fourth quarter and declined 1.4% for the year. Kmart’s same-store store sales declined 3.7% in the fourth quarter and for the year. Sears Canada’s comparable store sales declined 3.8% in the fourth quarter and 5.6% for the year.

The company’s online business grew over 25% in fourth quarter 2012 and 17% for the full year.

"Sears Holdings made progress in 2012 improving the profitability of our business, but we know there’s more work to be done in 2013," said Lampert. "Our focus continues to be on our core customers, our members, and finding ways to provide them value and convenience through Integrated Retail and our Shop Your Way Membership platform. We have invested significantly in our online ecommerce platforms, our membership rewards program and the technology needed to support these initiatives."

In a letter to shareholders, employees and customers, Lampert emphasized improvements the chain has made, including improved clothing sales and its growing loyalty program.

“We demonstrated that the operating performance of the company, while significantly below what it should be, was not on a continued downward trajectory,” Lampert wrote.

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