FINANCE

Circuit City Execs Lose Jobs in Overhaul

BY CSA STAFF

Richmond, Va. Circuit City Stores Inc. said Thursday two executives have lost their jobs due to organizational changes.

Chief marketing officer Peter Weedfald left the company on Friday and Steven P. Pappas, president of the company’s small stores, left last week, spokesman Jim Babb said.

Both joined the company in the summer of 2006.

“It’s not surprising for a company of our size, especially in the midst of a period of transformation, to have changes within its management,” Babb said in an AP report. “We are making and will continue to make the organization decisions that we feel will best further our turnaround, our strategies and shareholder value.”

The company reported a wider-than-expected loss for the third quarter and also anticipates a “modest loss” in the fourth quarter, the period that included the bulk of the crucial holiday shopping season.

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BJ’s beats 4Q EPS guidance

BY CSA STAFF

NATICK, Mass. BJ’s Wholesale Club today reported fourth quarter net income of $50.2 million, or 80 cents per diluted share, exceeding its guidance which called for earnings per share of 70 cents to 74 cents. The favorable net income results were due primarily to strong January sales, favorable merchandise margin rates, strong gasoline profitability and expenses coming in slightly lower than projected, the company reported.

For the fourth quarter of 2006, the company reported net income of $11.9 million, or 18 cents per diluted share.

For the full year 2007, net income was $122.9 million, or $1.90 per diluted share.

For the full year 2006, net income was $72 million, or $1.08 per diluted share.

Net sales for the fourth quarter of 2007, which included 13 weeks of sales versus 14 weeks of sales in 2006, rose by 1.9% to $2.4 billion. Comparable-club sales for the fourth quarter, based on 13 weeks of sales in both years, increased by 5.4%, including a favorable impact from sales of gasoline of 2.4%, and a negative impact from the absence of pharmacy sales of 0.4%. On a comparable-club basis, merchandise sales excluding gas and pharmacy increased by 3.4%.

Net sales for 2007, which included 52 weeks versus 53 weeks in 2006, increased by 6.2% to $8.8 billion. Comparable-club sales for 2007, which included 52 weeks in both years, increased by 3.7%, including a favorable impact from sales of gasoline of 1.1%, and a negative impact from the absence of pharmacy sales of 0.4%. On a comparable-club basis, merchandise sales excluding gas and pharmacy increased by 3%.

BJ’s also reported its results for the month of February. Sales for the month increased by 9% to $655.7 million from $601.8 million in February 2007. On a comparable-club basis, sales increased by 5.9% for the month of February, including a contribution from sales of gasoline of 2.7%. For February 2007, the company reported a comparable-club sales increase of 3%, including a positive impact from gasoline sales of 0.9% and a negative impact from the absence of pharmacy sales of 0.4%.

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Study: Consumers pushed to lower-price stores

BY CSA STAFF

NEW YORK The weak economic conditions have taken their toll on U.S. consumers, and for the first time in more than 10 years, low prices is the main factor in determining what and where they shop. According to a survey by AlixPartners, a consulting firm, of more than 7,400 consumers, shoppers today especially keep low cost in mind when making purchasing decisions.

“In the ten years that I’ve administered surveys like this, consumers have always said that while absolute price is important, at the end of the day they were usually willing to pay a little more in order to get such things as service or a good overall experience,” said Fred Crawford, a managing director with AlixPartners. “However, this year, it’s a whole new ballgame. This year, consumers are saying it’s all about price, price and price. Clearly, 2008 will be ‘the year of value’ in U.S. retailing, and that’s going to have a dramatic impact on retailers of all stripes. This year is going to be batten-down-the-hatches time in retail.”

The survey found that pricing was important to consumers at all income levels, and all were likely to shift “one level down” in terms of the type of stores they shop, with aspirational high-end retail shoppers shifting down to department stores, department store shoppers dipping down into mass-market stores and so on.

“Consumers who were shopping at Nordstrom’s and Macy’s are now looking at JCPenney or Kohl’s,” said Crawford, “and those who were shopping at JC Penney are now at Wal-Mart, while some of those who were at Wal-Mart are now at dollar stores. You’re going to see a lot more Lexuses and BMWs in Wal-Mart parking lots going forward.”

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