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GNC Q2 profit up

BY Marianne Wilson

Pittsburgh — GNC Holdings Inc.’s second-quarter net income rose nearly 8% amid strong sales.

During the three months that ended June 30, GNC’s income rose to $71.7 million, from $66.7 in the year-ago period. Its results beat expectations.

Revenue increased 9.2% to $676.3 million from $619.1 million a year ago. Same-store sales rose 6.8% at company-owned stores and 5.2% at franchise locations.

"GNC continues to consistently deliver strong year-over-year results, while making meaningful investments in the business. We are well positioned for sustained long-term growth — capitalizing on our leadership position in the marketplace — and continue to execute a strong capital return to shareholder program," Joe Fortunato, chairman, president and CEO, stated.

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Report: Leading ecommerce sites not keeping up with demands of consumers

BY Marianne Wilson

The top U.S. retailers’ web sites are barely keeping up with customers, according to a report by Radware, a provider of application delivery and application security solutions for virtual and cloud data centers. Now in its fifth edition, the “State of the Union: Ecommerce Page Speed & Web Performance, Summer 2013” study reveals that websites for the top 500 U.S. retailers continue to slow down, a 13.7% drop since spring 2012. Site owners who do not implement core best practices, critically affect website performance and customer experience, according to the report.

Radware tested the website performance of the top 500 U.S. retail websites over a two-week period. Below are key findings from the study:

Web pages continue to slow down. The median load time is 7.72 seconds, a slowdown of 13.7% since Spring 2012.

The median page is 1,095 KB and contains 91 resources (images, JavaScript, CSS files, etc.). This represents 8% growth since Spring 2012.

Adoption of performance best practices has either plateaued or is on the decline. Site owners who neglect core best practices miss out on the opportunity to make relatively easy performance gains.

Across all three major browsers, performance has either plateaued or is trending downward. Browser vendors are challenged to keep pace with the demands of today’s large, complex, dynamic web pages.

Additionally, the report revealed that the median time to interact (TTI) is 4.9 seconds. (TTI is the point at which a page displays its primary interactive content, such feature banners with functional call-to-action buttons.) Of the top 100 e-commerce sites tested, only 8% of the top 100 sites had a sub-2-second TTI, while 9% had a TTI time of eight or more seconds.

“These findings are startling – retailers still don’t realize that they are losing customers by neglecting core best practices,” said Tammy Everts, web performance evangelist, Radware. “Fifty-seven percent of consumers will abandon a page that takes longer than three seconds to load. Web pages need to work smarter and harder. Site owners not only need to adopt core best practices, but also utilize advanced techniques that optimize the browser’s efficiency.”

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J.C. Penney, 7-Eleven among companies targeted in massive hacking scheme

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Five individuals have been charged with running a sophisticated, worldwide hacking organization that the U.S. Department of Justice called the largest hacking and data breach scheme ever prosecuted in the United States. The victims in the scheme included such retailers as J.C. Penney, 7-Eleven Inc., Carrefour and Hannaford Brothers Co.

A federal indictment made public Thursday in New Jersey charges five men — four Russian nationals and a Ukrainian — in the scheme that, over the course of seven years, targeted major corporate networks and stole more than 160 million credit-card numbers. All five are charged with taking part in a computer hacking conspiracy and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The four Russian nationals are also charged with multiple counts of unauthorized computer access and wire fraud.

Other companies that were victimized included electronic stock exchange Nasdaq, JetBlue, Heartland Payment Systems Inc. and the Belgium bank Dexia Bank Belgium.

The individuals who purchased the credit and debit card numbers and associated data from the hacking organization resold them through online forums or directly to others known as “cashers,” according to the indictment, with U.S. credit card numbers selling for about $10 each; Canadian numbers were $15 and European ones $50.

The data was stored on computer servers all over the world, including in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, California, Illinois, Latvia, the Netherlands, Bahamas, Ukraine, Panama and Germany, the Associated Press said.

The cashers would encode the information onto the magnetic strips of blank plastic cards and cash out the value, by either withdrawing money from ATMs in the case of debit cards, or running up charges and purchasing goods in the case of credit cards.

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