Children’s Place to Exit Disney Store Business
New York City Children’s Place on Thursday said it is in advanced talks with The Walt Disney Co. for Disney to regain ownership of two-thirds of Disney Stores in North America.
Disney confirmed it was talking about potentially buying back a portion of the Disney Store chain, which Children’s Place has operated under a license.
“Given the challenging macro-economic environment, we believe the steps we are taking today, while difficult, will put The Children’s Place in position to realize its full potential,” Chuck Crovitz, interim CEO of The Children’s Place Retail Stores Inc., said in the earnings release.
Children’s Place also on Thursday posted a net loss for the fourth quarter, compared with a year-ago net gain, hurt mostly by one-time charges regarding its exit of the Disney Store North America chain.
The company reported a quarterly net loss of $58.5 million compared with a net profit of $44.7 million a year earlier. Excluding items such as asset impairment charges, the company earned $20.5 million.
The company said it recognized a pretax asset impairment charge of $80.3 million in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2007, related to exiting the Disney store. The company said it plans to cut 80 positions from its shared services work force.
Children’s Place said consolidated comparable sales for all its stores in the fourth quarter rose 3%, while the Disney Stores comparable sales fell 4%.
Apart from the charges, Children’s Place said a tough economic environment and high inventory hurt earnings.
“By any measure, fiscal 2007 was a very tough year for our company. For the majority of the year, our merchandise assortments … did not resonate with the consumer and our inventory levels were too high, particularly given the challenging economic environment,” Crovitz said.
Amazon.com completes Audible buy
SEATTLE Amazon.com today announced that Audible has become a wholly-owned subsidiary of the company. All remaining outstanding shares of Audible, other than those held by stockholders who properly perfect appraisal rights under Delaware law, were converted into the right to receive $11.50 per share in cash.
Audible is the leading provider of spoken audio information and entertainment on the Internet. Through its websites in the US and UK and alliances in Germany and France, Audible offers over 80,000 programs, including audiobooks and other spoken word content from more than 520 content partners that include leading audiobook publishers, broadcasters, entertainers, magazine and newspaper publishers, and business information providers. Content from Audible is downloaded and played back on personal computers, CDs, or AudibleReady computer-based and wireless mobile devices.
Retailers come to aid of HD-DVD owners
MINNEAPOLIS The sudden end to the high-definition DVD format war has retailers scrambling to find ways to compensate customers who bought into the losing HD-DVD format.
Best Buy reported today that it is giving $50 gift cards to customers who bought an HD-DVD player or HD-DVD attachment from its U.S. stores before Feb. 23. In addition, starting on March 21, the company is offering customers who don’t want to get rid of their HD-DVD players the chance to trade them in for a value determined by the Best Buy’s Online Trade-In Center.
“The DVD format war has divided our customers in a way we haven’t seen since Betamax took on VHS more than 20 years ago,” said Brian Dunn, president and coo for Best Buy. “At Best Buy, we understood and shared our customers’ frustrations as they were being asked to choose one format or the other. Now that the format war is over, we hope these gift cards will reassure our customers that we will help them make a smooth transition into the right technology for their needs.”
Circuit City is giving customers who jumped on the HD-DVD bandwagon this year a longer period of time to return their players. The chain last week extended its 30-day return policy on purchases to 90 days for HD-DVD players. The policy applies only to players though and not to HD-DVD discs.