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Hershey’s Chocolate World, New York-New York Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas

BY CSA STAFF
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Hershey’s Chocolate World immerses shoppers in all-things Hershey. The two-level, 13.000-sq.-ft. store, which has a 74-ft. high Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar that visitors can walk through and entrances styled to resemble Hershey’s Kisses, is designed as the ultimate brand experience. Custom chocolate sculptures of the Statue of Liberty, made of almost 800 lbs. of pure Hershey’s Milk Chocolate, and the Empire State Building, made of 1,800 Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bars, make idea photo ops.

Although it features more than 800 candy and chocolate offerings, Hershey’s is more than just a candy store. Interactive technology allows shoppers to personalize products and customize wrappers with their own image and message — and they can star in their very own Reese’s television ad. Shoppers can also send their friends and family a Hershey’s Kiss e-card, view a timeline of Hershey’s history or discover their ideal Reese’s combination of chocolate and peanut butter.

Design: JGA, Southfield, Mich.


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Activist investors sparks fireworks at PetSmart

BY CSA STAFF

The nation’s largest pet specialty retailer could be in for a long summer now that activist investor Jana Partners is pressing for a review of strategic alternatives after acquiring a 9.9% stake in the company.

Jana Partners, a 13-year-old firm that describes itself as a value-oriented adviser specializing in event driven investing, disclosed in filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on July 3 that it had acquired a significant ownership position in PetSmart and it was looking for changes to be made. Jana Partners indicated it had acquired had acquired 9,820,734 PetSmart shares, a figure that includes options to purchase 4,733,700 shares, which equates to roughly 9.9% of the 99,208,627 PetSmart shares outstanding as of May 16.

Jana Partners indicated in the filing that it believes PetSmart shares are undervalued and represent an attractive investment opportunity. The disclosure of the company’s stake on its own was enough to cause Petsmart shares to surge more than $7 from the July 2 closing price of $59.81.

The firm indicated it plans to have discussions with the PetSmart board and management to review strategic alternatives such as a sale of the company, improving operating performance, the company’s capital structure and how to return significant capital to shareholders. Jana Partners’ filing also indicates it wants to discuss improving PetSmart’s disclosure to shareholders and the composition of the company’s management and board of directors.

PetSmart responded in a statement saying it, “welcomes open communications with its shareholders and values constructive input toward the goal of enhancing shareholder value. Our Board and management team are committed to creating value for all PetSmart shareholders, and we will continue to take actions to accomplish this goal and position the company for growth and success.”

PetSmart is off to a difficult start this year. The company’s first quarter same store sales fell 0.6% while total sales at the company’s 1,340 stores increased 1.1% to roughly $1.7 billion. Earnings per share of $1.04 were up 6.1% compared to 98 cents a share the prior year. The tepid performance prompted the company to forecast that second quarter same store sales would be flat to down slight and full year comps were likely to be flat.

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Walgreens and Rite Aid looking good in June

BY CSA STAFF

June was a good month for two of the nation’s largest drugstore operators. Walgreens reported sales of $6.3 billion for the month, an increase of 8.9% as compared to the same month in fiscal 2013, while Rite Aid realized a 3.9% same-store sales increase for the four weeks ended June 28.

Total front-end sales at Walgreens increased 1.8% in June compared with the same month in fiscal 2013, while comparable store front-end sales increased 1.3%. Customer traffic in comparable stores decreased 2% while basket size increased 3.3%.

Prescriptions filled at comparable stores increased by 7.3% in June and increased 4.7% on a calendar day-shift adjusted basis. June 2014 had one additional Monday and one fewer Saturday compared with June 2013. These calendar shifts positively impacted prescriptions filled at comparable stores by 260 basis points.

June pharmacy sales increased by 13.4%. Comparable store pharmacy sales increased 11.3% and increased by a calendar day-shift adjusted 8.7%. Calendar day-shift adjusted comparable store pharmacy sales were negatively impacted by 140 basis points due to generic drug introductions in the last 12 months. Pharmacy sales accounted for 65.2% of total sales for the month.

Sales in comparable stores increased by 7.5% in June. Calendar day shifts positively impacted total comparable sales by 170 basis points. Generic drug introductions in the last 12 months negatively impacted total comparable sales by 90 basis points.

Calendar 2014 year-to-date sales for the first six months were $38.1 billion, an increase of 5.9%. Fiscal 2014 year-to-date sales for the first 10 months were $63.7 billion, an increase of 6%.

Walgreens opened 15 stores during June, including three relocations, and closed 13. Nearly all of the June store closings were part of the company’s previously announced efforts to optimize its asset base by closing a total of 76 drug stores.

Meanwhile, Rite Aid saw June front-end same-store sales increase 0.9%. Pharmacy same-store sales, which included an approximate 169 basis points negative impact from new generic introductions, increased 5.4%. Prescription count at comparable stores increased 3.5% over the prior-year period.

Total drug store sales for the four-week period increased 3.5% to $2 billion. Prescription sales accounted for 68.4% of drug store sales, and third party prescription sales represented 97.5% of pharmacy sales.

Same-store sales for the 17-week period ended June 28 increased 3.3% over the prior-year period. Front-end same store sales increased 0.2% while pharmacy same store sales increased 4.8%. Prescription count at comparable stores increased 2.6% over the prior-year period.

Total drug store sales for the 17 weeks ended June 28, 2014 increased 2.8% with sales of $8.4 billion. Prescription sales represented 68.4% of total drug store sales, and third party prescription sales represented 97.4% of pharmacy sales.

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