FINANCE

Children’s Place Q4 income down; to open 60 stores on 2012

BY Staff Writer

Secaucus, N.J. — The Children’s Place Retail Stores reported a drop in fourth-quarter net income from continuing operations after tax to $24.2 million, from $32.7 million in the year-ago period.

The chain said fourth-quarter sales performance was negatively impacted by the unseasonably warm weather this winter.

"Fiscal 2011 was a very productive year, despite the disappointing fourth quarter. The unseasonably warm weather forced us to take aggressive markdowns to clear winter apparel and these discounts, coupled with record high apparel costs, significantly impacted our fourth quarter margin and earnings," commented Jane Elfers, president and CEO. "On the positive side, comparable-store sales increased for the second consecutive quarter in our US Place stores and our e-commerce business grew double digits. In addition, our average unit retail increased high single digits across all channels and merchandise divisions during the quarter. We believe this demonstrates continued customer acceptance of our merchandise direction.

For the fiscal year, net sales increased 2.5% to $1.71 billion in fiscal 2011, compared with $1.67 billion in fiscal 2010. Comparable-retail sales for fiscal 2011 declined 2.5%.

Income from continuing operations after tax was $77.2 million in fiscal 2011 compared with $83.6 million in fiscal 2010.

The company closed 27 stores during fourth quarter 2011. During fiscal 2011, Children’s Place opened 88 stores and closed 34, ending the year with 1,049 stores. The company said it expects to open 60 new stores in fiscal 2012 and close 35.

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Consumer sentiment slips in March

BY CSA STAFF

YONKERS, N.Y. — After three consecutive months of improvement, the Consumer Reports Index for March slipped to 46.1, from 49.6 last month.

March’s Consumer Reports Index measures overall consumer financial health and showed that the confidence of the American consumer is waning.

Further challenging consumer confidence, The Trouble Tracker Index increased slightly this month to 52.2 from 49.1 in February, and is now at its highest level since August 2011.

Retail has yet to regain its footing after holidays, as Americans continue to pull back on spending. Consumer Reports Past 30-Day Retail Index fell slightly to 11.5 from 11.8 last month, a pattern similar to last year. Planned purchasing over the next 30 days, reflecting anticipated March activity, is 8.7, up from 7.1 the prior month, seeding hopes for an upturn in the near term.

"Consumers are not yet comfortable in their financial situation as the country limps into its fifth year of near-recessionary times," said Ed Farrell, director of the Consumer Reports National Research Center. "Weak retail is the symptom, not an underlying cause. Consumers will need a clear signal led by a greatly improved jobs outlook to resume spending."

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Kimberly-Clark names president global brands and innovation

BY CSA STAFF

DALLAS — Kimberly-Clark has elected Tony Palmer, SVPand chief marketing officer, to the role of president global brands and innovation.

In his expanded role, Palmer will leverage the company’s scale to build brands and drive growth for its businesses around the world. He will partner with K-C’s regional business leaders to achieve their business objectives.

"Over the past several years, Tony has transformed our global marketing and innovation capabilities and planning processes, enabling our global teams to build stronger brands and drive more innovation for the benefit of our consumers," said chairman and CEO Thomas Falk. "His leadership within our organization will enable continued growth of our global brand strategies with our consumer and business-to-business teams."

Prior to joining Kimberly-Clark in 2006, Palmer served as managing director, U.K. for Kellogg Company, and was president of the company’s natural, frozen and warehouse club businesses. He also previously served in marketing and general management positions within the Minute Maid division of Coca-Cola Company USA, and later as region director for Coca-Cola in Australia.

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