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Hibbett Sports’ Q2 profit rises 48%

BY Staff Writer

Birmingham, Ala. — Hibbett Sports reported Friday that profit for the quarter ended July 30 surged 48% to $5.9 million, compared with $4 million a year earlier.

Revenue rose more than 9% to $153.1 million, beating Wall Street’s projected $151.9 million in revenue.

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Walgreens officially kicks off Nice! launch

BY CSA STAFF

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens on Thursday officially unveiled its new store brand, Nice!

"Store brands have always been a core part of our business," stated Joe Magnacca, Walgreens president of daily living products and solutions. "With more shoppers seeking value in this economy, we’ve been able to attract new customers across every income level to our brands and maintain their loyalty with a focus on quality and assortment. [And] now with the launch of Nice!, we are streamlining our offering to make it even easier for customers to identify high-quality everyday essentials at a great value."

The new brand will include more than 400 high-quality grocery and household products at prices up to 30% below the prices of other national brands. Walgreens plans to have most Nice! product on its shelves by early 2012, including many that go beyond what might be expected from a drug-store-brand, such as soups, sauces and bakery items.

Nice! features a bold, clean design aimed at being easily recognizable and simplifying the shopping experience. Current store brands, including Cafe W, Deerfield Farms, W and others, will be phased out and transitioned to Nice!, Walgreens stated. The change is Walgreens’ latest move in its strategy to build its private-brand business, including the consolidation of many of the brands in its existing portfolio.

In addition to store signage already under way, the drug store chain will launch a broad national marketing campaign planned for next year to drive awareness and generate trial. Employees also are being engaged to become brand ambassadors for Nice!. "With the consolidation of brands, and the additional products we will roll out under Nice!, we expect it will become a leading brand," said Moe Alkemade, Walgreens divisional VP and general merchandise manager of private brands.

According to A.C. Nielsen data, total private-brand sales in the United States have increased from $64.9 billion in 2005 to $88.5 billion in 2010. The fastest-growing store-brand consumer segment is households with incomes more than $100,000. Nielsen consumer research also found that 75% of Walgreens shoppers purchase store brands in Walgreens.

"The Nice! product line compared favorably to respective national brand competitors in consumer testing," Alkemade said. "And the sleek new packaging garnered rave reviews, which is expected to promote trial of the new products."

The Nice! unveiling is the next step in Walgreens’ efforts to refine its private-brand business, which began a year ago with the introduction of DR Delish products. In recent months, the company has tweaked the brand’s name and packaging, now Good & Delish, and bolstered the selection of the line’s premium snacks and beverages. "The Delish brand gives our customers snacks and beverages with premium recipes but at more affordable prices," Alkemade said. "This brand further differentiates us from other major retailers."

Walgreens this year also launched a national marketing campaign promoting Walgreens-brand health-and-wellness products. The Walgreens label will continue to be used for health-and-wellness products, which include such items as over-the-counter medicines, vitamins and supplements, first-aid supplies and sun care.

Walgreens also has enhanced and expanded its Pet Shoppe brand of pet supplies, growing from 10 items to more than 60 this year. New packaging and more prominent placements within stores will make it easier for pet owners to find value. "We believe we will continue to build loyalty to our stores and our brands as shoppers find favorites on our shelves that will become staples in their everyday lives," Magnacca said. "We are confident that our more refined approach will provide a new level of simplicity and choice, which is the ultimate value objective for our core customer."

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Hibbett Sports shapes up strong same-store sales

BY CSA STAFF

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Hibbett Sports reported that net sales for the second quarter ended July 30 increased 9.5% to $153.1 million compared with $139.8 million for the second quarter ended July 31, 2010. Comparable-store sales increased 5.9%.

Net income for the quarter increased 48% to $5.9 million compared with $4 million for the same period last year. Earnings per diluted share increased 56.4% to 21 cents compared with 14 cents for the same period last year.

Jeff Rosenthal, president and CEO, stated, “Our performance in second quarter is our seventh consecutive quarter of comparable-store sales increases and our eighth consecutive quarter of earnings increases. The true nature of our success is our great employees and their dedication to providing exceptional service to our customers. We continue to see strength in our active wear and footwear businesses. We are well positioned entering the back-to-school season and have experienced continued positive sales trends to date in the third quarter.”

For the second quarter, Hibbett opened eight new stores, expanded five high performing stores and closed five underperforming stores, bringing the store base to 802 in 26 states as of July 30, 2011. In Fiscal 2012, the company expects to open approximately 50 to 55 new stores, expand 15 high performing stores and close 10 to 15 stores.

The company increased its earnings guidance for fiscal 2012 to a range of $1.90 to $2.00 per diluted share with a comparable store sales increase in the mid-single digit range.

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