FINANCE

Collective Brands narrows loss in Q4

BY CSA STAFF

Topeka, Kan. — Collective Brands, the parent company of Payless ShoeSource, said Wednesday that its net loss narrowed slightly in the fourth quarter as sales improved in its wholesale unit. The performance beat Wall Street expectations.

For the three months ended Jan. 29, Collective Brands lost $10.1 million, compared with a loss of $10.9 million in the year-ago period.

Net sales increased 4% to $773.8 million, boosted by growth in the company’s wholesale segment and international stores. Comparable-store sales — including international locations — rose 0.4%.

Collective Brands said an increase in price markdowns and higher product and freight costs cut into its sales.

Full year 2010 net income was $112.8 million.

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FINANCE

Casey’s acquires five QuikTrip stores in Missouri

BY CSA STAFF

Ankeny, Iowa — Casey’s General Stores has signed a definitive purchase agreement to acquire five convenience stores from QuikTrip Corp. All of the stores are located in the Springfield, Mo., metropolitan area.

The stores will be immediately rebranded to Casey’s once the transaction is completed.

“Springfield has been a great market for Casey’s and we are excited to expand our presence there,” said Robert J. Myers, president and CEO of Casey’s. “These stores have been well maintained and are high volume locations that will be a perfect fit for our proprietary prepared food program.”

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SUPPLY CHAIN

NRF: Shorter hours for truck drivers would increase costs and congestion

BY CSA STAFF

Washington, D.C. — The National Retail Federation told federal transportation officials this week that a proposal to limit the number of hours truck drivers spend behind the wheel each day would increase costs for businesses and consumers while undermining intended safety benefits by putting more trucks on the road during the most-congested hours.

“As a result of the current 11-hour daily driving limit, U.S. retailers have been able to achieve significant efficiencies within their supply chains and distribution networks,” NRF senior VP for government relations David French said. “Any change to this daily driving limit will upset the careful balance and efficiencies that have been achieved and require changes to those new systems and processes. In addition, such changes could result in significantly higher transportation costs and could lead to less safety as additional drivers and trucks will be required to make up for the shortfall.”

Proposed changes would increase transportation costs by anywhere from 3% to 20% depending on a specific retailer’s supply chain network and operations, “and would adversely impact the U.S. economy,” French said.

French’s remarks came in comments filed with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in response to a proposal that would potentially decrease the current 11-hour on-duty “hours of service” limit for drivers in effect since the beginning of 2004 to a 10-hour limit. In addition, the 34 hours of time off currently required between each week of driving would now have to include at least two midnight-to-6 a.m. periods of nighttime rest.

Supporters of the proposal say it would result in fewer fatigued drivers on the road and help reduce accidents. But NRF is concerned that shortening the daily driving limit would require more drivers and more trucks to move the same volume of goods during the same time period. That would increase congestion on the nation’s already overcrowded highways, increasing the potential for accidents. NRF is particularly concerned about the requirement for nighttime rest periods because retailers use overnight deliveries extensively in order to avoid daytime road congestion, particularly in urban areas.

“The deployment of more trucks during the night separates truck and automobile interactions, contributing to increased safety,” French said. “The proposed change … reduces the ability to schedule deliveries at night, placing more trucks on the road during normal commuting hours. This adversely affects a retailer’s supply chain performance, potentially increasing congestion-related delays and increasing the likelihood of accidents and a result of greater truck and automobile interactions.”

FMCSA issued its proposal in December and has until July to issue final regulations.

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