OPERATIONS

Golfsmith partners with South African retailer

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Austin, Texas — Golfsmith International said Tuesday that it has established a partnership with The MoreGolf Group – South Africa’s largest golf retailer – as part of a global strategy toward growth.

At 78 stores, Golfsmith is the largest golf specialty retailer in the United States. It said it will reinvest the income generated from the just-announced partnership into its core U.S. business.

In the past year, Golfsmith has formed new partnerships for its proprietary brands in Europe, Japan, Korea, Australia, New Zealand and now South Africa.

MoreGolf banners include The Pro Shop’s retail chain and World of Golf experiences, two of the best known names in South African golf.

The partnership will allow both retailers to share best practices in merchandising, operations, club fitting, sourcing, sales and marketing. Additionally MoreGolf will have an exclusive agreement to sell MacGregor golf products as well as Golfsmith’s other proprietary brands throughout the entire MoreGolf group that includes The Pro Shop’s 18 stores, its World of Golf facility and three World of Golf villages.

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OPERATIONS

NRF survey: Retailers use background checks for safety

BY Staff Writer

Washington, D.C. — A new survey released Tuesday by the National Retail Federation found that nearly all retailers rely on background checks to keep their customers, and themselves, safe.

The survey, completed by retail executives from 96 of the nation’s leading department stores, mass merchants, discounters, drug stores, grocery stores and restaurants, examined retailers’ use of background screenings during the application and employment process.

Nearly all retailers (97%) utilize background screening in some form during the application, hiring and employment process, according to the survey. Additionally, companies routinely conduct pre-employment background checks on a wide range of associates from senior executives (85.7%) to store associates (55.2%), with a particular focus on customer-facing employees and managers.

A majority of retailers report screening is conducted for most job categories, including store, distribution center and corporate office employees, since each of these positions work with customers, manage merchandise or handle sensitive information. Even senior executives undergo background screening in most companies.

The survey results highlighted current concerns that retailers have about potential EEOC guidelines that will prohibit criminal history checks.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is currently considering new guidelines that would prevent all businesses from asking potential employees about their criminal history during the application process.

The so-called “Ban-the-Box” guidelines, coined by retailers based on the criminal history box seen on most application forms, was the focus of a recent EEOC meeting in July 2011. The hearing examined employment barriers for convicted criminals and ways to ease criminal re-entry into the workforce. NRF joined a dozen other industry groups to express concerns over “banning-the-box” and outline its adverse impact on retailers, employees and consumers.

New guidance could be issued by the EEOC as early as this month.

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FINANCE

Costco Q4 profit up 11%, raises membership fees

BY Marianne Wilson

Issaquah, Wash. — Costco Wholesale Corp. reported an 11% increase in its fourth quarter net income, below forecasts. The company also announced that it will raise its membership fees starting Nov. 1.

Costco’s net income rose to $478 million for the period ended Aug. 28, up from $432 million in the year-ago period. The quarter included a "last-in, first-out" inventory charge of four cents per share. This charge reflects a requirement that the company revalue its inventory if prices rise or fall notably.

Revenue rose 17% to $28.18 billion as membership fee revenue increased to $590 million from $533 million. The company said its performance was also helped by sales from its Mexico joint venture.

Same-store sales climbed 10% in the United States, and 19% abroad. Removing the impact of inflation in gas prices and strengthening foreign currencies, same-store sales rose 7%.

Costco announced it will raise annual membership fees by $5 to $55 for U.S. individual, business and business add-on members, as well as Canada business members beginning Nov. 1. The membership fee increase follows a similar move by BJ’s Wholesale Club.

Costco’s executive membership annual fees will also increase in the United States and Canada to $110 from $100. The maximum 2% reward tied to the executive membership will rise from $500 to $750.

For the year, Costco’s earnings rose 12% to $1.46 billion, and annual revenue rose 14% to $88.92 billion.

Same-store sales were up 10%, rising 7% in the United States and 16% overseas.

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