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H&M profit falls 30%

BY CSA STAFF

New York City — Hennes & Mauritz AB Thursday reported that its net profit in the first quarter fell 30% from a year earlier on “significantly higher” cotton prices, higher transportation costs and a stronger Swedish krona. The chain said profit in the quarter ended Feb. 28 fell to 2.62 billion Swedish kronor ($414 million).

The gross margin slipped to 57.8% in the quarter from 61.9% a year ago, with H&M noting "significantly higher" cotton prices, less spare capacity and higher transportation costs along with a negative U.S. dollar effect.

The company said it plans to open 97 stores and close eight during the second quarter of the year. China, the United Kingdom and the United States are expected to be the biggest expansion markets for H&M in 2011.

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Staples forms alliance with Swiss office products company

BY CSA STAFF

FRAMINGHAM, Mass.— Staples announced that it has formed a new strategic alliance with one of the leading Swiss office products companies, Büro Schoch Direct AG. Within Switzerland, Staples and Büro Schoch Direct will work together exclusively on international accounts and collaborate to exchange best practices, the company reported.

“With Staples’ commitment to serving our multi-national clients across the globe, this alliance represents an opportunity for the company to serve both new and existing accounts that are looking for Staples’ expertise and industry-leading service levels in the Swiss market,” said Rob Vale, president Staples Europe. “Schoch has a long and successful presence in the Swiss market and shares Staples’ passion for making it easy for customers to buy office products and services. We look forward to working with the Büro Schoch Direct team.”

The Schoch Group is a leading office products company in Switzerland, offering a full range of office and computer supplies, facility products and related services. Founded in 1882, the company has operations in Winterthur, Ohringen and Aarburg. With thousands of customers and over 100 employees, Büro Schoch Direct is a contract business that serves companies of all sizes.

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Sony brings a new experience to L.A.

BY CSA STAFF

LOS ANGELES — Sony Electronics announced that on April 1 it will open its first newly branded Sony store in the United States at the Westfield Century City Shopping mall in Los Angeles.

According to the company, the 4,200-sq. ft. store offers customers a full interactive experience with Sony’s wide range of products. To encourage this experience, the store features an open space with products displayed on tables, Sony said. In addition, thestore features movable interior walls and changeable color schemes so that it can be adapted and reconfigured to highlight specific products, services, or create fresh experiences for returning customers.

While in the store, customers can test out Sony’snetwork services — including Music Unlimited and Video on Demand powered by Qriocity — on network-connected products, to playing PlayStation’s GranTurismo 5 on a PS3 and a Sony 3DTV. They will be able to shoot video on a wide range of cameras, get lost in a 3D movie from Sony Pictures, and test headphones while listening to Sony Music artists.

The store also provides a place to learn about future and emerging technologies and innovations, such as the RayModeler, a futuristic 360-degree display prototype that projects a 3D image that can be seen from all angles.

While in the store, customers will have access to a trained staff that can assist withsetting up all products, activation of wireless services, and technical PC and IT support, Sony reported. Also available are in-home consultation, delivery, and TV, and home audio and video installation by authorized technicians.

"Sony’s goal is always to exceed customer expectations by providing an exciting, interactive and entertaining shopping experience," said Phil Molyneux, president and COO Sony Electronics. "Our new store concept gives shoppers an opportunity to interact with trained and knowledgeable staff as well as preview, test, compare and unlock the full potential of Sony’s entertainment offerings."

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