ECOtality selects JLL for site selection of Blink EV stations
Chicago — As part of its $114.8 million federal stimulus grant to construct the country’s electric vehicle (EV) charging station infrastructure, ECOtality said Thursday it has chosen Jones Lang LaSalle’s Corporate Retail Solutions team to assist in location selection, conduct due diligence and negotiate contracts with potential host locations throughout EV Project regions to install ECOtality’s Blink EV Chargers.
In partnership with ECOtality, Jones Lang LaSalle will assist in identifying over 2,000 host sites for Blink Chargers in select EV Project markets across the country including San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Seattle, Phoenix, Tucson, Ariz., and Portland, Ore., as well as various cities and metropolitan areas throughout the state of Tennessee.
ECOtality is project manager of The EV Project, the largest deployment of EV infrastructure in history. As part of the Project, data will be collected from host locations to help determine how smart EV infrastructure, like ECOtality’s Blink Chargers, can be supported in parking lots at shopping centers, office buildings, municipal properties, and other appropriate public and commercial locations. This data will play an important role in reaching President Obama’s goal of “one million EV cars on the road in the United States by 2015.”
Sam’s Club is Walmart’s top performing division!
It’s true. Sam’s Club smoked its first quarter same-store sales guidance that called for a 1% to 3% increase by hanging a 4.2% increase on the board and managed to grow operating profits by 7% to $459 million, easily outpacing the performance of Walmart’s U.S. stores and international division.
When was the last time anyone could say that about Sam’s Club? But there you have it. Sam’s Club is getting it done, and now has five consecutive quarters of sequentially higher same-store sales, and second quarter guidance in the range of 3% to 5% envisions the possibility of a sixth.
Higher year-over-year fuel prices boosted the topline sales figure considerably, but that 4.2% first-quarter comp gains reflects merchandise sales only. Without the beneficial effect of gas prices that on average were about 35% higher during the first quarter compared to a year earlier, Sam’s sales increased 4.9% to $11.3 billion.
The same-store sales growth was broad-based in terms of increased customer traffic and larger average transaction sizes.
“From a merchandise perspective, comp increases were strong across fresh foods, grocery, home and apparel categories,” said Sam’s Club president and CEO Brian Cornell. “We continue to see inflation in key categories such as produce, meat and dairy. However, we managed through inflation, with little impact on our margin and have seen continued growth in units sold year-over-year.”
Comps, currency and 54 new stores boost international sales
Sales at Walmart’s international division increased 11.5% to $27.9 billion, aided to a large degree by a $1.3 billion currency exchange benefit, without which the sales increase would have been a more modest 6.2%.
International sales would have been stronger except for the fact that the division operates on a different sales calendar than Walmart’s domestic businesses, so sales related to Easter won’t show in the international division’s results until the second quarter. Mexico, China and Chile shined during the quarter, with those countries posting the strongest comp sales growth and the highest increases in year-over-year net sales.
The sales growth the division did experience did not translate into strong profitability as operating income grew 1.2% to roughly $1.1 billion and actually declined 3.3% to $1 billion when measured on a constant currency basis. Inventory growth related to new stores was also an issue.
“Our progress on inventory was disappointing for the first quarter of this year with days on hand increasing over last year in most of our markets,” said Walmart International president and CEO Doug McMillon.
He also noted that much of the 11.4% increase in inventory was due to the addition of 54 new stores before adding, “Our management teams across all countries, especially China and Brazil, have [inventory control] as a priority.”
Speaking of Brazil, McMillon said the company expects to add 80 new stores in that market this year on top of an existing 480 units and operating profit there could suffer due to the ongoing implementation of EDLP.
“Prices on more than 10,000 items, primarily in food, have been reduced, and this number increases each month,” McMillon said. “As I’ve said before and as we saw in Japan, this is a long term initiatives o we expect to experience some pain during the conversion period.”
The bright spot in Brazil was the online business,which grew 41% on top of last year’s growth of 80%. Those gains are coming on a small base as the online business launched at the end of 2008 with 10,000 items in 11 categories and now offers more than 70,000 products in 21 categories.