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Conn’s preliminary Q4 sales look strong; plans 15-20 new stores

BY Dan Berthiaume

The Woodlands, Texas – Conn’s Inc. released preliminary fourth quarter net sales and same-store sales results for its retail segment that suggest strong financial performance. On a year-over-year basis, Conn’s net sales for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2014 were an estimated $301.6 million, increasing $93.3 million, or 44.8%, from the same period last year.

Net sales represent total product sales, repair service agreement commissions and service revenues. Same store sales rose an estimated 33.4% over the comparable prior-year period. In addition, Conn’s expects to open 15 to 20 new HomePlus stores in fiscal 2015.

Theodore M. Wright, chairman and CEO of Conn’s, said bad weather did not impede the retailer’s sales, but increases in wholesale television prices have affected electronics sales.

“Unusually severe weather in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2014 did not prevent us from reaching our sales objectives,” said Wright. “Since the first of the year, however, vendor-supported promotion of televisions has declined compared to the holiday season and the same period a year ago. Net purchase prices for consumers increased significantly for many of our key television models and same store sales trends in electronics are below fourth-quarter fiscal 2014 levels. While our sales outlook for other product categories remains positive, we have revised our fiscal 2015 guidance to include lower expected sales rates in electronics.”

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Kirkland’s searches for new logistics leader

BY CSA STAFF

Kirkland’s SVP of logistics Todd Weier plans to leave the company. The company has begun a search for a new logistics leader.

“I believe that it is the right time for my departure and that my mission in the company has been largely accomplished. I am proud of our team’s many achievements throughout the years and the logistics infrastructure we’ve established,” said Weier. “I have enjoyed working with great people at Kirkland’s for more than 11 years, and I look forward to continuing those relationships. I look forward to new challenges and the opportunity to spend more time on personal pursuits.”

Prior to Kirkland’s, Weier served as director of logistics for Petsmart.com. His career also has included eight years with Victoria’s Secret Catalogue.

In a statement, Kirkland’s president and CEO Robert Alderson thanked Weier for his service and contributions.

“We wish him the very best. We have begun a search for a new logistics leader, and I’m pleased that Todd has agreed to work with us during this transition,” added Alderson.

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Gap to raise minimum wage to $10 for U.S. employees

BY Dan Berthiaume

San Francisco – Gap Inc. will raise the minimum hourly wage for all U.S. employees to $9 in 2014, and then raise it again, to $10, in 2015. The move will affect about 65,000 store employees across the company’s brands, which include Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy, Piperlime, Athleta, and Intermix. Gap’s announcement comes amid a nationwide debate about the minimum wage.

Gap chairman and CEO Glenn Murphy publicly announced the change in a brief blog post. He said employees had been notified in a company phone call early in the morning of Feb. 19.

“To us, this is not a political issue,” Murphy said in the blog post. “Our decision to invest in frontline employees will directly support our business, and is one that we expect to deliver a return many times over. The people in our company who engage directly with our customers carry an incredible responsibility. Our success is a result of their hard work, love of fashion and commitment. We hope this decision provides them with some additional support as they grow their careers with Gap Inc."

In explaining the wage increases, Murphy told employees: “We work for a company with a strong set of values, which can be directly linked to our founders, Doris and Don Fisher. They invented specialty apparel retail, but Don also challenged us to live up to our promise to ‘do more than sell clothes.’ ”

Gap is based in San Francisco, which has a $10.74 citywide minimum wage. California has passed a law that establishes a minimum wage of $10 an hour by 2016.

President Barack Obama publicly praised Gap for the move.

"I applaud Gap for announcing that they intend to raise wages for their employees beginning this year," said Obama.

He also urged Congress to pass a bill that would raise the nation’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour from the current $7.25 an hour.

It’s time to pass that bill and give America a raise,” the president said.

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