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Family Dollar to open 450 to 500 stores in new fiscal year; Q4 profit up 8%

BY Marianne Wilson

Matthews, N.C. — Family Dollar Stores announced Wednesday that it plans to open 450 to 500 new stores in fiscal 2012, a 50% jump compared with the number of openings in fiscal 2011, and will renovate, relocate or expand over 1,000 locations. The discounter also reported that its fiscal fourth-quarter net income rose 8%.

“In fiscal 2012, we intend to accelerate investments to drive sales and profitability,” said Howard Levine, chairman and CEO.

Family Dollar, which rejected a $7 billion takeover bid by Nelson Peltz’s Trian Fund Management LP in March, earned $79.8 million for the period ended Aug. 27, up from $74 million in the year-ago period.

Revenue rose 9% to $2.13 billion from $1.96 billion, helped by sales of consumables, seasonal items and electronics. Same-store sales rose 5.5%.

The chain exceeded Wall Street estimates, both in sales and profit.

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Macy’s speeding up adoption of RFID technology

BY Marianne Wilson

Cincinnati — Macy’s is ramping up its adoption of RFID technology. The retailer announced that its Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s stores are adopting the technology on an accelerated timeline to more precisely manage item-level merchandise inventories. The company expects that by the third quarter of 2012, it will begin using RFID in all stores nationwide to count size-intensive replenishment goods, which accounts for about 30% of the company’s total sales.

The news puts Macy’s in the forefront of retailers who are implementing RFID on a broad national scale. The company has been testing RFID technology for nearly two years in selected Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s stores and distribution centers. The Use of RFID to precisely track replenishment goods on-hand by size, color and style is expected to be completed by fall of 2013 in all stores.

“To Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s, RFID is a tool to better serve customers and drive sales by ensuring we have the right product in the right place at the right time for our in-store and omnichannel shoppers,” said Tom Cole, chief administrative officer of Macy’s. “RFID will allow us to more frequently count item-level inventory with precision so our inventory is readily accessible to our customers. This is technology that has proven effective in our testing, and we believe now is the right time to roll out RFID aggressively.”

With RFID, Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s store associates can count inventory significantly faster. This will enable multiple counts throughout the year, compared with the current practice of taking a physical inventory once a year. Testing has shown that, on average, inventory accuracy can be maintained at 97% or better, the company said. Frequent counts will also ensure the correct placement of items in the right range of sizes, colors and styles on the selling floor.

The initial 2012 launch of RFID technology will be in size-intensive replenishment categories such as men’s furnishings, intimate apparel, men’s slacks, denim and women’s shoes in each store nationwide. Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s private brands are included in the initiative.

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Slower CE spending trends reflected in Best Buy hiring plans

BY CSA STAFF

MINNEAPOLIS— While other retailers are beefing up their sales staff ahead of the holiday season, Best Buy Co. said Tuesday that it has cut its 2011 seasonal hiring plans to about half of last year’s staff numbers, in a move to curtail costs. This year’s plans call for 15,000 holiday workers, compared with 29,000 hired last year.

The retailer said it plans to increase its regular staffers’ hours to compensate for the fewer seasonal workers, and also plans to increase services such as free tech support and a longer window for product returns during the holidays. It will also promote under-$100 deals to promote more sales.

"The consumer continues to be cautious," said CEO Brian Dunn. "That’s not just a blip, that’s the new normal."

Best Buy’s planned reduction in holiday hiring follows a second quarter where slower sales in key departments and a slowdown in consumer spending lead to a decrease in earnings and comparable-store sales. Best Buy has reported net earnings of $177 million, or 47 cents per diluted share, for its fiscal second quarter ended Aug. 27, compared with $254 million, or 60 cents per diluted share, for the prior-year period.

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