FINANCE

Harris Teeter profit edges up in Q2, four stores and 10 remodels on tap

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Charlotte, N.C. — Harris Teeter Supermarkets reported Thursday that net income for the quarter ended April 1 edged up to $30.3 million, from $29.9 million in the year-ago period.

Sales climbed 6.7% in the period, to $1.12 billion from $1.05 billion. Same-store sales increased 3.9%.

During the first half of fiscal 2012, the grocer said it opened three new stores and closed one, and said it plans to open four new stores and complete major remodels on 10 stores over the remainder of fiscal 2012. Five of the remodels will involve sq. ft. expansions.

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FINANCE

Bebe narrows loss in Q3

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Brisbane, Calif. — Women’s apparel retailer Bebe stores reported Thursday that it narrowed its loss for the quarter ended March 31 to $200,000, compared with a $2.6 million loss in the year-earlier period.

Sales climbed 10.5% to $121 million, from $109.5 million. Same-store sales rose 7.2%.

For the remainder of fiscal year 2012, the retailer said it expects to open three 2b stores and close two Bebe stores.

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OPERATIONS

Retail hiring down in April

BY Marianne Wilson

Chelmsford, Mass. — The Kronos Retail Labor Index edged down to 3.8% in April from a March level that was revised three-tenths lower. Even with declines over the last two months, the Retail Labor Index remains above levels seen over the last few years, averaging 4.0% over the first four months of this year, up from 3.5% last year. (The Index is defined as the ratio of hires to applications within a given month, expressed as a percentage. A level of 3.0) means that for every 100 applications received, three hires occurred)

“This was the second consecutive decline in hires, following a strong, nearly 11 percent gain in February,” said Chris Varvares, senior managing director and co-founder, Macroeconomic Advisers, which prepares the analysis and write-up of the Kronos report. “Hiring in February may have been boosted by the unseasonably warm weather experienced this winter, pulling some spring hires forward and helping to explain some of the subsequent declines in March and April.”

“In addition, readings on retail sales and chain-store sales through March were strong and above expectations, suggesting business conditions for retail firms are improving,” Varvares added.

“We look for the pace of hiring at retail firms to pick up in the coming months as this sector continues to strengthen,” he said.

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