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Boot Barn relaunches e-commerce site on Demandware platform

BY CSA STAFF

Burlington, Mass. — Demandware announced that Boot Barn, the largest western wear retailer in the world, has relaunched its e-commerce site, BootBarn.com, on the Demandware Commerce platform. Launched in September, the site kicked into high gear with a large boost in online sales during the 2010 holiday season and has continued its strong momentum into 2011.

Replacing its legacy in-house platform, Boot Barn selected Demandware Commerce because of its ability to scale to support the company’s growth and the powerful merchandising functionality that makes it easy to keep up with its dynamic marketing campaigns, Demandware said. Advanced capabilities such as Active Merchandising allow Boot Barn merchants to control all online merchandising interactions across search, personalization, analytics, promotions and catalog with a single, task-based user interface.

“The footwear and apparel business is highly competitive so we needed to upgrade our older ecommerce site to one that could help us compete at a world-class level,” said Patrick Meany, CEO of Boot Barn. “We made a significant commitment and investment in our ecommerce initiatives in 2010 and our decision to work with Demandware is seriously paying off for us and helping us lay the groundwork for future growth.”

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Winn-Dixie grabs hold of germ-free shopping carts

BY CSA STAFF

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Ever grab a shopping cart and think about the hundreds of hands and millions of germs that have touched it? Winn-Dixie Stores has, and the company announced that it recently signed an exclusive agreement with Green Secure Solutions Inc. to use its patent-pending process to clean, sanitize and protect shopping carts, hand baskets, handicap carts, food trays and other equipment at the grocer’s 484 stores.

“This service protects our customers’ health by using an environmentally safe product that continues to kill bacteria and other microorganisms for six months between treatments,” said Mary Kellmanson, Winn-Dixie groupVP marketing. “Green Secure Solutions has serviced every one of our stores and now they are beginning a second round of treatments, creating an invisible shield that provides additional protection for our customers and the food they’re buying.”

According to the company, Green Secure Solutions sanitizes equipment in their mobile units by usinga high-temperature, pressurized shower sterilized with hydrogen peroxide and ultraviolet light. Once the carts are dry, technicians from the Pompano Beach, Fla.-based company electrostatically apply Bioshield 75, an award-winning, water-based product that creates a highly durable coating that bonds to surfaces on which it is applied.

“Our system is the most advanced and environmentally safe technology available. There is no harmful waste water or chemicals running through a parking lot or getting into a storm sewer. Everything is self-contained in our mobile units,” said Max Ozgercin, Green Secure Solutions’ CEO. “We’re pleased that our service provides Winn-Dixie customers a difference in their lives.”

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Inflation, higher fuel prices to drive 2011 grocer gains

BY CSA STAFF

CINCINNATI — Kroger on Thursday beat analysts’ quarterly consensus, posting 46 cents in earnings per share (adjusted for a goodwill impairment charge) that exceeded consensus by 2 cents EPS with higher-than-expected identical-store sales lift of 3.8% (excluding fuel).

Same-store sales were particularly strong across natural food, bakery and deli/meat, Kroger chairman and CEO David Dillion told analysts during a conference call. “We were particularly pleased by sales growth in our drug and merchandise departments,” Dillon said.

For fiscal year 2011, Kroger anticipates identical-supermarket sales growth, excluding fuel, of approximately 3% to 4%. Full-year net earnings are expected to range from $1.80 to $1.92 per diluted share. Those projects skew conservative, company executives noted, because of the present “fragile” economy. “Economy recovery continues to be slower … than expected,” Dillon said. “And we expect this to persist.” Rising food prices — the grocer projects 1% inflation — could represent a significant drag on consumer discretionary spending, as could potential summertime gas prices of higher than $4 per gallon.

There’s a silver lining in all of this for grocers, however, Dillon noted. Inflation during a recession period would benefit Kroger’s brand, whether that inflation is restricted to brand offerings or not. However, inflation across certain categories, such as milk and perishables, are not a positive, Dillon said.

And any significant increase in gas prices is a similar boon. “The convenience of having gasoline is actually a big plus,” Dillon noted, pointing to the more than 1,000 fuel depots located across the chain’s supermarket footprint. When gas prices are high, consumers drive shorter distances and consolidate trips.

Dillon suggested Kroger will benefit further by its customer segmentation analyses — upscale consumes currently are more confident and are spending more; lower household-income demographics, however, are still challenged. “We try to address that in what we offer our pricing; what we do in our ads; what we do in our stores,” Dillon said.

Total sales for the quarter ended Jan. 29, including fuel, were up 7.4% to $19.9 billion. Excluding fuel sales, total sales increased 4.2% over the same period last year.

Net earnings for the fourth quarter totaled $278.8 million, or $0.44 per diluted share. At the end of the fourth quarter, net total debt was $7.3 billion, a decrease of $243.5 million from a year ago.

On a rolling four-quarters basis, Kroger’s net total debt to EBITDA ratio, adjusted for the impairment charges in fiscal 2010 and 2009, was 1.89, compared with 1.97 during the same period last year.

For fiscal year 2010, total sales increased 7.1% to $82.2 billion. Excluding fuel sales, total sales increased 3.4% over the same period last year. Identical supermarket sales, without fuel, increased 2.8% in fiscal year 2010, compared with the prior fiscal year.

Net earnings for fiscal year 2010 were $1.12 billion, or $1.74 per diluted share.

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