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Comps and debt grow at Container Store

BY CSA STAFF

The Container Store posted a better than expected profit performance during its first quarter as a public company but offered a full year outlook analysts found underwhelming.

Container Store chairman and CEO Kip Tindell said the company was pleased with its operating results for the third quarter ended November 30. Sales increased 7.3% to $188 million thanks to a 4.7% same store sales increase and the addition of six new stores during the current fiscal year. It was the fourteenth consecutive quarter of comp growth for the operator of 63 stores. The company also posted adjusted earnings per share of 11 cents, three cents better than analysts forecast.

“These results demonstrate the strength of our differentiated business model, brand awareness, unique employee-first culture and solid execution by the entire team at The Container Store,” Tindall said. “With 63 stores today, we have a long runway of growth ahead of us as we expand our store base to realize the 300 plus store opportunity that we believe exists.”

The company, laden with debt of $368 million following its late October 2013 stock offering, said its operating activities during the quarter generated $10.2 million in cash. It ended the quarter with $10.8 million in cash and $68.1 million available on its revolving credit facilities.

For the full year, the company expects sales total $754 million and same store sales to increase 3.4%. Profits on an adjusted basis are expected to total 40 cents a share.

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FINANCE

comScore puts holiday desktop e-commerce spending at $46.5 billion

BY Marianne Wilson

Reston, Va. — A total of $46.5 billion was spent online from desktop devices for the full November-December 2013 holiday season, an increase of 10% versus a year ago, according to comScore. While the total represents a record for online holiday spending and a double-digit gain from last year, it nevertheless fell short of comScore’s forecasted 14% growth of $48.1 billion in desktop spending.

“With just three weeks of online shopping between Thanksgiving and Christmas, consumers did not have the same opportunity to buy that they would have in a more typical holiday season,” said comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni.

"Ultimately, it seems that spending softness relative to expectations was mainly the result of the compressed holiday calendar They made up for it to some extent by spending significantly more online on the weekends, but so many fewer workdays provided a headwind for the season that ultimately proved very challenging to overcome. That said, it should also be noted that many consumers continue to be challenged economically, which forced retailers to offer large price discounts in an attempt to stimulate demand. Unfortunately, this also had the effect of reducing total dollar sales since consumers could buy more for less."

For the 2013 holiday season, apparel & accessories ranked as the top-gaining product category with a gain of more than 13% versus a year ago and outpacing consumer electronics (bolstered by smartphone sales) by a razor thin margin. computer hardware (bolstered by tablet sales) ranked third by fractions of a percentage point, while toys & hobbies and video game consoles & accessories rounded out the top five.

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MARKETING/SOCIAL MEDIA

H&M to air interactive TV ad during Super Bowl

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Fast-fashion retailer H&M will debut what is being called the first “shoppable TV commercial” during the upcoming Super Bowl. The 30-second ad, which will utilize Delivery Agent’s “t-commerce” platform, will promote David Beckham’s bodwear line, which is sold at H&M.

The in-commercial buying will only be available on "select Samsung Smart TVs.

According to reports, a small part of the screen will present a pop-up menu while the ad runs on the larger part of the screen. The menu will offer product information, the ability to send that information to another device and the option to buy the product directly. And the ad will remain interactive for viewers who rewind to it using their DVRs.

“This is a game-changer for the advertising industry," said Mike Fitzsimmons, Delivery Agent CEO. "With the upcoming launch of the t-commerce-enabled H&M Super Bowl XLVIII ad, we are collectively redefining the power and effectiveness of television advertising. Years ago, the world talked about the potential associated with buying Jennifer Aniston’s sweater. H&M, in an industry first, will now realize that potential by making their Super Bowl XLVIII ad actionable and directly measurable."

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