News

Cost Plus CEO Steps Down

BY CSA STAFF

Oakland, Calif., The chairman, CEO, and president of Cost Plus, Murray Dashe, has stepped down and plans to retire, the specialty retailer announced today. Danny Gurr, who has served as company director since 1995, has been appointed interim president and CEO while a replacement is sought. In addition, Fredric M. Roberts, a company director since 1999, has been named non-executive chairman of the board.

“On behalf of the board, we thank Murray for his efforts over the past seven years and his role in helping grow the company from 58 stores to a nationwide chain of 236 stores with annual sales approaching $1 billion,” said Gurr in a statement. “We have a strong and experienced team of dedicated employees to execute our strategies and several key initiatives that we have undertaken to strengthen our brand and increase returns for our investors.”

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FINANCE

Frank’s Nursery & Crafts Files Reorganization Plan

BY CSA STAFF

Troy, Mich., Frank’s Nursery & Crafts announced the filing of its proposed plan of reorganization in the Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in September 2004. Frank’s has concluded the wind-down of its store operations by completing going-out-of-business sales at its locations and has also sold or rejected substantially all of its leasehold interests.

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FINANCE

Kroger Reported to Consider Winn-Dixie Buy

BY CSA STAFF

Cincinnati, Kroger Co. may be considering making a play for a large chunk of Winn-Dixie, according to a report in the South Florida Business Journal. Kroger would serve as a supplier to a portion of the bankrupt supermarket operator’s 900-plus supermarkets at first. Eventually, it would take over Winn-Dixie’s operations in northern Florida and other states, the report said, with Winn-Dixie retaining a core group of stores in southern and central Florida.

In other news, Kroger reported wider fourth-quarter losses due to a hefty impairment charge related to the company’s Ralph’s and Food 4 Les chains. Quarterly losses totaled $675.9 million, or 93? per share, including a goodwill impairment charge of $884 million, or $1.21 per share. In the year-ago period, Kroger reported a loss of $337.4 million, or 45? per share, including charges of $663.1 million, or 89? per share. Total sales increased 5.1% to $13.7 billion from $13.03 billion last year.

Looking ahead, Kroger expects 2005 net income to exceed $1.16 per share, excluding the effect of the goodwill impairment charge. Kroger expects its earnings growth to be fueled by improved results in Southern California and lower interest expense.

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