STORE SPACES

Express to open 30+ Central and South American stores over 5 years

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Columbus, Ohio — Express said Friday that one of its subsidiaries has entered into a franchise agreement with Fastco Commercial S.A., a retail franchise operator, to open more than 30 Express stores over a five-year period in Panama, Peru, Costa Rica, Colombia, The Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.

Express said it expects there will be up to three Express locations open in Panama, Peru, and Costa Rica by the end of the fourth quarter. The product assortment in these locations will resemble that of the U.S. stores with moderate seasonal adjustments. The stores are expected to have the same new store design that Express is rolling out in the U.S.

"This is another exciting step in Express’ international expansion strategy, particularly with such an experienced partner," said Michael Weiss, president, chairman and CEO, Express.

The company previously announced that it plans to drive international expansion through a three-pronged approach that includes company-owned stores, joint venture relationships and franchise agreements.

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FINANCE

Roundy’s grows Q2 profit

BY Staff Writer

Milwaukee — Midwestern grocer Roundy’s reported Friday that net income for the quarter ended June 30 rose 6.6% to $18.9 million, compared with $17.7 million in the year-ago period. Sales edged up 1.7% to $996.8 million.

Same-store sales dropped 3.3%.

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FINANCE

J.C. Penney records bigger-than-expected Q2 loss; 22% sales drop

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Plano, Texas — J.C. Penney Co. reported Friday a bigger-than-expected second-quarter loss of $147 million, compared with net income of $14 million in the same period last year.

Sales plummeted 22% to $3.02 billion from $3.9 billion, and same-store sales tumbled 21.7% after an 18.9% fall in the first quarter. Wall Street had forecast revenue of $3.2 billion.

Facing the investment community on Friday, CEO Ron Johnson admitted to some strategic pricing mistakes, but said he and his team will stay the course.

"We have now completed the first six months of our transformation, and while business continues to be softer than anticipated, we are confident the transformation is on track," said Johnson in a statement. “The transition from a highly promotional business model to one based on everyday value will take time and we will stay the course."

In February, J.C. Penney launched a new pricing plan that eliminated its long-time sales approach and implemented a three-tiered everyday low pricing strategy that has left customers confused. On Aug. 1, the pricing plan was tweaked again and terminology such as “Best Price” sales are now called “Clearance,” in hopes, said Johnson, that customers will better understand the pricing strategies. A new series of ad campaigns are also intended to clear up any confusion. Other changes in the works include 200 in-store jeans shops by 2015 and enhanced service areas call Town Squares.

"We continue to learn and adjust, and fully expect that our unique, specialty department store experience will drive J.C. Penney’s long term success,” said Johnson.

The changes, however, will take time. The company said Friday it no longer expects to meet its earnings guidance for 2012.

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