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Francesca’s profit drops 21%, 85 new stores planned

BY Dan Berthiaume

Houston — Francesca’s Holdings Corp. on Tuesday reported a 21% drop in profit during the first quarter of fiscal 2014, to $8.6 million from $10.9 million. Harsh winter weather and higher expenses related to its boutique business contributed to the decline in net income. The company also reduced its annual outlook.

Francesca’s plans to open 85 new stores during fiscal 2014, including 16 in the second quarter.

Net sales rose 8% to $85.4 million from $79 million, spurred by the opening of 62 new stores. Same-store sales decreased 7%. Francesca’s plans to aggressively reduce slow-moving inventory during the fiscal year, which caused it to reduce its guidance for the second quarter and full year.

For the second quarter, net sales are expected to be between $98 million and $103 million assuming a mid to low single digit decrease in same-store sales, including the direct-to-consumer business. For the full year, net sales are now expected to be in the range of $387 million to $399 million assuming a low single digit decrease to flat change in same-store sales, including the direct-to-consumer business

"Total sales growth of 8% to $85.4 million was driven by the strength of our new and non-comparable boutique sales and direct-to-consumer initiatives, contributing to incremental year over year growth of 16%,” said Neill P. Davis, president and CEO of Francesca’s. “Our new boutiques continue to open strong and are meeting our expectations of payback periods of less than one year. Declining sales within our comparable boutiques partially offset these gains and were a reflection of decreases in boutique transactions, which has limited the effectiveness of our merchandise clearance strategies through existing channels."

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Rent-A-Center names CFO, HR head

BY Dan Berthiaume

Plano, Texas — Rent-A-Center, Inc. has appointed two new senior executives. The company named Guy J. Constant as executive VP finance, CFO and treasurer, and Jody Diaz as senior VP HR and chief people officer, both effective June 16, 2014.

Constant was previously employed by Brinker International Inc. and held several key financial positions during his 10-year tenure, most recently serving as executive VP, CFO and president of global business development. Prior to Brinker, Mr. Constant spent nine years at AMR Corporation, the parent of American Airlines, in various finance positions of increasing scope and responsibility,

Diaz has led the human resources function for a variety of large employers. Most recently, she served as senior VP of HR for Ace Cash Express.

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Market6 releases retailer/supplier collaboration suite

BY Dan Berthiaume

Deerfield, Ill. — Market6, a provider of Web-based retail analytic applications, is introducing Market6 Vantage, a suite of retail analytic applications that automate and simplify joint business planning and retailer/supplier collaboration. Vantage is designed to enable retailers and their suppliers to streamline their collaboration efforts to build and execute more effective and profitable shopper-centric merchandising plans.

With built-in demand driven forecasts, simulation models, and expected/actual analysis, Market6 Vantage is designed to give retailers and suppliers smarter, forward-looking insights to drive more accurate planning and execution. Market6 Vantage provides a common platform of integrated merchandising, shopper, market and operational data, and establishes a set of analytic-enriched measures and assessments as the basis for ongoing collaboration. Vantage’s modules for historical analysis, future planning and execution tracking let users connect planning to execution, identify data-driven performance insights in real-time, and spot opportunities to fix problems.

“Strategic planning and execution with suppliers allows retailers to better serve their target shopper and drive increased sales and gross profits,” said Jim Kelly, CEO of Market6. “Until now the strategic joint planning and execution process has been too resource and time intensive to implement widely. Vantage automates the preparation and on-going maintenance of joint plans, simplifies the collaboration process, and gives trading partners a single view of the actions against a plan to drive improved results.”

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