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Francesca’s Q4 profit doubles, on track to open 76 new stores in 2013

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Houston — Francesca’s Holdings Corp. reported Tuesday that profit for the fourth quarter grew nearly 100% to $8.4 million, from $4.3 million in the year-ago period. Results handily beat Wall Street expectations.

Sales surged in the period almost 55% to $61.7 million, past Wall analysts’ estimated $57.6 million. Same-store sales increased 15%.

The retailer said it expects to open 76 new boutiques during fiscal year 2013.

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Mild weather helps sustain retail growth in February

BY CSA STAFF

WASHINGTON — February retail sales rose 8.6% over last year, marking 20 consecutive months of sustained growth, The National Retail Federation reported Tuesday.

The seasonally adjusted increase — stronger than expected — was 0.5%, which excludes automobiles, gas stations and restaurants.

“Though February is typically a month for consumers to stay home and wait for spring, shoppers this year took advantage of mild weather to get a head start on outdoor projects and warm-weather apparel,” NRF president and CEO Matthew R. Shay said. “While February sales certainly present continued reason for optimism, retailers are paying close attention to rising gasoline prices, which are forcing millions of our customers to spend a significant portion of disposable income filling their gas tanks.”

NRF continues to forecast retail industry sales will rise 3.4% in 2012 to $2.53 trillion.

“Pent-up demand is turning desires into needs, which is one reason why consumers have begun opening up their wallets,” NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “There is no doubt that the economy is on the upswing, certainly compared to six months ago. Stronger-than-expected February sales and an improving labor market paint a bright picture of the U.S. economy, although the impact rising gas prices will have on the economy’s momentum remains unclear.”

Other findings from February retail sales numbers include a 1% seasonally adjusted rise at sporting goods, hobby, and book and music stores (up 7.4% unadjusted year-over-year), a 1.4% increase at building material, garden equipment and supplies dealers (18.2% unadjusted year-over-year), a 1.5% rise at department store (4.8% unadjusted), and a 1.8% increase at clothing and accessories stores (11.6% unadjusted).

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ODP drives away with NASCAR business award

BY CSA STAFF

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — NASCAR has honored Office Depot with the 2011 NASCAR Driving Business Award for its leadership and results through their participation in the NASCAR Fuel for Business Council (NFFB).

The award was bestowed upon NASCAR’s Official Office Supply Partner at a ceremony in Las Vegas during the most recent NFFB Council Meeting. Office Depot is also the co-primary sponsor of reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, Tony Stewart, and the No. 14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet.

The NFFB Council is a program that brings together an exclusive group of more than 50 Official NASCAR Partners to get more out of their sponsorship, specifically getting partners together four times a year to buy and sell products and services, NASCAR said.

According to NASCAR, Office Depot’s partnership with the NFFB Council lead to newbusiness accounts with Chevrolet, Ford, the National Corn Growers Association, Getty Images, and NASCAR RV Resorts, to name a few. During the past seven seasons, Office Depot also used its status as an Official NASCAR Partner to activate its highly acclaimed “Official Small Business of NASCAR, Courtesy of Office Depot” promotion. In 2010 and 2011, Office Depot teamed up with fellow NFFB Council member and business partner, 3M Corp., on the promotion.

“Office Depot is honored to be this year’s recipient of NASCAR’s Driving Business Award,” said Kevin Peters, President of North America for Office Depot. “Our sponsorship in NASCAR and active involvement with the NFFB Council provides Office Depot with strong B2B opportunities because sponsors within the sport want to do business with each other. And we’ve also been able to deepen relationships with many of our customers by bringing them to NASCAR races. The sponsorship has proven to be a great business-building tool for Office Depot over the years.”

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