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The Container Store makes public debut on New York Stock Exchange

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — The Container Store on Friday, Nov. 1, began trading on the New York Stock Exchange, under the ticker symbol “TCS.” Expectations were high: On Thursday, the retailer set its IPO price at $18 per share, higher than the originally-expected range of $14 to $16 per share.

The company is offering all 12.5 million shares of common stock, with an additional 1.9 million shares 30-day purchase option for the underwriters.

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Customer visits bolster Harris Teeter same-store sales

BY CSA STAFF

Grocer Harris Teeter credited its pricing and promotional strategies for driving unit sales and customer visits, which led to increased net and same-store sales for fiscal 2013.

For fiscal 2013, sales rose 3.8% to $4.71 billion from $4.54 billion in the year-ago period. Same-store sales for the year increased 2.23%.

Fourth quarter sales rose 4.5% to $1.19 billion from $1.14 billion in the year-ago period. The increase in sales was fueled by an increase in same-store sales and sales from new stores, partially offset by store closings. Same-store sales increased 1.49% for the quarter.

Net earnings for the year totaled $107.9 million, compared with net earnings of $82.5 million for fiscal 2012. Net earnings for fiscal 2013 were comprised of earnings from continuing operations of $109 million, or $2.21 per diluted share, and losses from discontinued operations of $1.1 million. The merger related and acquisition costs reduced earnings from continuing operations after tax in fiscal 2013 by $6.6 million, or 13 cents per diluted share.

Net earnings for the fourth quarter were $21.1 million, or 43 cents per diluted share. The merger related and acquisition costs reduced net earnings in the fourth quarter by $5.9 million, or 12 cents per diluted share, the company stated. Net earnings for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2012 totaled $22.8 million and were comprised of earnings from continuing operations of $23.7 million, or 48 cents per diluted share and losses from discontinued operations of $0.9 million.

“We are pleased with our results for fiscal 2013 and the opportunities ahead of us with the Kroger merger and our recent store acquisitions. On a comparable-store basis, we experienced increased unit sales compared to fiscal 2012 and our store brand penetration continues to improve. We believe these positive results are attributable to our continuing commitment to our customers to deliver outstanding values and excellent customer service,” stated Thomas W. Dickson, chairman and CEO.

On July 8, the company and Kroger entered into a definitive merger agreement under which Kroger will acquire all outstanding shares of the company for $49.38 per share in cash. The terms of the merger agreement were approved by the boards of both companies and has been approved by the company’s shareholders; however, it remains subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions. The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter of calendar year 2013.

On Sept. 12, the company announced that its operating subsidiary, Harris Teeter, entered into an agreement with Greenbax Enterprises, and certain of its subsidiaries to purchase six Piggly Wiggly store locations and one future store location in the Charleston, S.C. area. The acquisition was completed with five of the locations being re-opened shortly after the acquisition date. The remaining two locations are expected to be opened during fiscal 2014.

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Walmart kicks off online holiday deals early

BY Marianne Wilson

San Bruno, Calif. — Walmart on Friday kicked off its online holiday deals, a month earlier than usual, and announced that it is offering free shipping on about 99% of its online items this year for orders over $50. (Last year, only about 15% of its assortment qualified for free shipping). The moves come as retailers get ready for what is expected to be an extremely competitive season, one marked by intense promotional activity. Retailers are also challenged by this year’s calendar: Thanksgiving falls late, on Nov. 28, resulting in six fewer shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas compared to last year.

The chain’s online sales event on November 1 features some 300 early-bird specials and includes items from JVC 42-inch LED televisions for $299 to Xelio 10.1-inch tablets for $49. According to the retailer, those are Walmart.com’s lowest prices in those categories.

Customers can learn about Walmart’s holiday deals through the season by signing up for the retailer’s emails, liking Walmart on Facebook on or downloading the mobile app.

"We know that our customers start shopping for the holidays on Nov. 1 because historically our traffic spikes the day after Halloween," said Joel Anderson, president and CEO of Walmart.com.


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