FINANCE

Dick’s Sporting Goods to invest in U.K.’s JJB Sports

BY Marianne Wilson

Pittsburgh — Dick’s Sporting Goods has agreed to make a 20 million pound investment ($31.75 million) in U.K. sports retailer JJB Sports plc, which operates over 180 stores in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Dick’s will purchase 18.75 million pounds ($29.76 million) in junior secured convertible notes and 1.25 million pounds ($1.98 million) in ordinary shares of JJB Sports. The transaction is subject to approval of the British company’s shareholders.

Dick’s has also received an option to buy an additional 20 million pounds in junior secured convertible notes of JJB in connection with a follow-on financing expected to take place in first quarter 2013.

Upon full conversion of the notes, Dick’s would become a controlling shareholder of JJB.

“This is an exciting strategic investment that provides us with a valuable introduction into the workings of the United Kingdom sporting goods market from an established company that shares our commitment to serving the needs of core athletes,” said Edward W. Stack, chairman and CEO. “By partnering with JJB, we will be positioned to share our more than 60 years of operating experience in the United States while gaining insight into the specific needs of United Kingdom athletes, which will serve as a stepping stone for our company’s future growth and development.”

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Retailers raise outlook on better-than-expected March sales

BY CSA STAFF

NEW YORK — Target Corp., The TJX Cos., and Ross Stores reported stronger-than-expected March sales as warm weather put consumers in a spending mood. Both retailers also revised their first-quarter outlooks upward on the results.

Target said its same-stores sales rose 7.3% in March, helped by warm weather. Analysts had predicted a 5.4% increase.

“March sales were well above our expectations, reflecting a healthy underlying trend combined with the benefit of an earlier Easter and favorable weather this year,” said Gregg Steinhafel, chairman, president and CEO of Target. “We’re now planning for a revised first quarter comparable-store sales increase of five to six percent, reflecting a low- to mid-single-digit increase in our April comparable-store sales.”

Target said that strong performers included food, household essentials, clothing and health care items. Electronics products were among the weakest areas.

At TJX Cos., same-store sales surged 10% in March, ahead of expectations. The firm also raised its earnings per share outlook for the fiscal first quarter. TJX reported strong increases in all of its businesses in the United States, Canada, and Europe.

“While unusually warm weather was a positive in the month, sales were also strong in regions where the weather is typically warm,” commented TJX CEO Carol Meyrowitz.

Ross Stores Inc. said mild weather helped drive March same-store sales up a better-than-expected 10%, and the chain raised its forecast of first-quarter profit. Juniors, children and shoes were the strongest categories, and the Southeast, Mid-Atlantic and Florida were the best regions, the company said.

But not every company beat expectations. Costco Wholesale Corp.’s same-store sales rose 6% in March, short of the 6.7% increase analysts expected. Taking out higher gas prices and the negative impact of foreign currencies, same-store sales rose 5% in the United States and 9% internationally.

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FINANCE

Bed, Bath & Beyond Q4 up 24%; will open 40 stores in fiscal 2012

BY Marianne Wilson

Union, N.J. — Bed Bath & Beyond Inc.’s profit in the fourth quarter rose to $351.0 million, from $283.5 million a year ago.

Revenue for the quarter ended Feb. 25 increased 9.1% to $2.73 billion. Same-store sales were up 6.8%.

In a conference call with analysts, the chain said it anticipates opening a total of 40 stores across all its concepts this fiscal year.

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