OPERATIONS

Gap names H&M global exec as president of Old Navy

BY Katherine Boccaccio

San Francisco — Gap Inc. announced Monday that it has appointed former H&M global sales head Stefan Larsson as the new president of Old Navy, effective the end of October.

Larsson replaces Tom Wyatt, who left the company in February.

The move is expected to pay dividends for Gap as it preps to open its first overseas Old Navy store – in Japan – this July.

Nancy Green, executive VP and chief creative officer, and Tom Sands, executive VP stores and operations, will continue to jointly lead Old Navy until Larsson joins the company in the fall.

Gap is on a mission to rework Old Navy, a victim last year of falling sales and rising costs. The retailer named Nike VP global apparel Jill Stanton as creative advisor earlier this year as part of its move to take the brand international.

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OPERATIONS

Sears to combine Outlet and Hometown into one company

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Hoffman Estates, Ill. — Sears Holdings Corp. revealed in a Monday filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that the previously announced spinoff of its Sears’s Outlet and Sears’s Hometown and Hardware stores will now combine the two chains into one separate company.

The move, part of Sears’ initiative to cut expense and regain profits, will result in the newly named Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores Inc. and a public offering that is expected to raise $400 to $500 million for Sears.

The new company will consist of about 1,240 smaller-format stores, including 944 Hometown locations and 96 Sears Hardware stores.

Sears chairman Edward Lampert is expected to obtain a larger stake in the new company. According to a report by Reuters, Lampert’s ESL Investments hedge fund will acquire all of the stock it is entitled to and as many additional shares as are available for purchase, enabling Lampert and his funds to potentially control a larger share of Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores Inc. than the 62% they currently hold in Sears Holdings Corp.

In related news, the Monday filing also said that current chief accounting officer Robert Riecker has been named interim CFO, but will not remain with the new company with the spinoff is complete.

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News

Ahead of annual meeting, Sears predicts Q1 income growth

BY CSA STAFF

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. — Ahead of its annual shareholders’ meeting, Sears Holdings has provided first-quarter guidance calling for net income between $155 million and $195 million (between $1.46 and $1.84 per diluted share from continuing operations) versus a net loss from continuing operations of $165 million ($1.53 loss per diluted share from continuing operations), for the first quarter in 2011. The above range includes approximately $235 million, after tax and minority interest, of gains from the sale of certain U.S. and Canadian stores. These transactions generated $440 million of cash proceeds.

For the first quarter, Sears Holdings reported a total same-store sales decline of 1.3%. Comps were down 1% and 1.6% at its domestic and Kmart units, respectively.

The sales decline at Sears’ domestic unit were offset by double-digit increases in its apparel and footwear categories. These increases were offset by declines in the appliances and consumer electronics categories. Kmart’s comparable-store sales decrease reflects increases in the apparel and footwear categories, offset by declines in the consumer electronics category.

Sears Canada expects to report a comparable store sales decline of 6.2% for the quarter. The decline is primarily due to sales decreases in electronics, home decor, hardware and apparel, partially offset by increases in major appliances and mattresses.

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