News

Celebrating an Anniversary By Going Digital

BY Murray Forseter

Eighty-four years ago this month, Godfrey Lebhar and Arnold D. Friedman published the first edition of Chain Store Age, the founding publication of our information company.

Through the Great Depression, a World War, the Korean War, the Cold War, the Vietnam War, two Gulf Wars, assorted military actions, countless economic bull and bear markets, 15 president of the United States, and myriad social revolutions, Chain Store Age came out every month with articles that served the ever-growing chain store industry. Every year we produced a profit. We still do.

But as any even casual observer of the publishing field can tell you, the printed word ain’t what it used to be. From the venerable New York Times to business magazines such as BusinessWeek, print has been under assault. Chain Store Age is no exception. Stung by an unrelenting economic tailspin, and buffeted by the Internet, advertising revenues have evaporated for many publications.

Unlike other publishers, we have been fortunate. Our objective of bringing buyers and sellers together through meaningful and actionable information on the retailing industry does not rest on the printed page alone. We have vibrant Internet and face-to-face event businesses.

This anniversary month is an appropriate time to launch the latest iteration of our mission, a digital edition of Chain Store Age. 

By now you’ve probably seen some of the rationalizations advanced for digital editions. They save trees. They have other carbon-saving benefits: Snail mail consumes energy; No longer dependent on the post office, your need for information can be instantly met by downloading the issue at the beginning of each month. You’ll also be able to use keyword search tools, click on hyperlinks and e-mail addresses, and share articles with colleagues without making paper copies.

Just as the retail industry has been affected by the Internet, publishing has, too. Where once we published but one print magazine a month, today we supplement that endeavor with a Web site that updates news at least twice a day. We publish four e-newsletters, with more to come. We conduct Webinars. We’re on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. You can access Chain Store Age with an RSS feed. You can get our daily news feed through Google, My Yahoo or My AOL. We blog. Indeed, we have three blogs, including a video blog from Marianne Wilson, our editor, and a blog called The Y’s Choice, the retail view from Generation Y, from our own Gen Y’er, Samantha Murphy. Through CSA TV we bring you video news from important industry functions.

Publishing is not the same from the days I began at Chain Store Age more than 30 years ago. Back then, our staff wrote almost everything we printed. Today, our Web site frequently carries guest commentaries from notable experts. We upload pictures of new stores as they arrive. Our daily stock ticker tracks public retail company performances. The CSA Composite index can be judged against the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the NASDAQ Composite and the S&P 500 Index. For employers looking for fresh talent, and executives looking for new placements, RetailCareersNow provides a wealth of opportunities. And one of the key benefits of the Internet is the ability to search our digital archives back to 1999.

This month we immerse ourselves deeper into the digital age. Join us by subscribing to our new digital edition at www.chainstoreage.com/digital .

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FINANCE

OfficeMax Q1 profit drops 79%

BY CSA STAFF

Naperville, Ill. OfficeMax announced its first quarter 2009 results on Thursday, which included a steep profit decline of 79%, from $62.4 million in first quarter 2008 to $13.1 million in first quarter 2009.

Total sales decreased 17% in the first quarter to $1.9 billion, compared with first quarter 2008.

“Although our financial results declined in the first quarter vs. the prior-year period, we continued to make improvements to our business and to contain costs,” Sam Duncan, chairman and CEO of OfficeMax, said. “We improved retail segment operating expenses as a percentage of sales compared to the first quarter of 2008 as a result of reorganizing our management, more efficient execution, and tighter cost controls.”

OfficeMax’s same-store sales decreased 12.7%, and sales declined across all major product categories primarily due to weaker small-business and consumer spending.

OfficeMax ended first quarter 2009 with a total of 1,020 retail stores, consisting of 939 retail stores in the United States and 81 retail stores in Mexico. During first quarter 2009, OfficeMax opened six retail stores in the United States and closed two stores in Mexico and six in the United States.

For the full year 2009, OfficeMax said it expects to open as many as 12 retail stores, and shutter between 15 and 25 retail stores.

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News

Big Lots tries something new in Columbus

BY CSA STAFF

COLUMBUS, Ohio Big Lots has moved in a different direction with the opening of a store in an affluent area of Columbus, Ohio.

Dow Jones reported that the store now occupying a former Linens ‘N Things offers similar merchandise to othe Big Lots stores, but is differentiated by better in-store presentations and wider aisles.

“We’re offering a higher standard of presentation here,” said Tim Johnson, VP strategic planning, in an interview with Dow Jones. “We understand that this is a different type of customer that wants to be communicated with differently.”

According to Dow Jones, Big Lots is looking to change its image as a bargain-basement, rummage-sale store, to something a little more sophisticated.

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