REAL ESTATE

H&M, Uncle Buck’s to anchor Destin Commons expansion

BY Michael Fickes

Destin, Fla. — H&M and Uncle Buck’s Fish Bowl & Grill will anchor a 100,000-sq.-ft. expansion of Destin Commons slated to open in mid-2014.

Construction is underway on the 20,000-sq.-ft H&M store, the first H&M in northwest Florida.

Uncle Buck’s, a concept by Bass Pro Shops, will offer casual dining and 16 lanes of bowling. Uncle Buck’s has also taken 20,000 sq. ft.

The expansion will include about 20 additional stores and restaurants.

The mixed-use property is set on 56 acres and currently includes more than 70 stores and restaurants. Major national retailers include Bass Pro Shops and Belk. The AMC Destin 14-screen stadium movie theatre, Pirate’s Cove children’s soft play area and a fountain provide the entertainment. The development also offers 70,000 sq. ft. of Class A office space.

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Simon, Mac Naughton, Ruiz and other Walmart execs headlining events this fall

BY CSA STAFF

Top executives from Walmart will be sharing insights into the company’s strategies this fall by participating in a wide range of conferences and investor event.
First up is Walmart U.S. president and CEO Bill Simon who is scheduled as the featured luncheon speaker on September 11, at the Goldman Sachs Global Retailing Conference in New York. Simon also spoke at the event in 2010 and 2012 and this year he will be fresh off of headlining Walmart’s U.S. manufacturing summit in Orlando in late August.
The following day digital initiatives will be in focus closer to Walmart’s home when John Boswell, SVP of marketing, member insights and e-commerce at Sam’s Club speaks at a meeting of the Bentonville Bella Vista Chamber of Commerce’s Walstreet members.
Details about Walmart’s 2014 store expansion, global e-commerce, small format outlook and expense leverage strategies will be revealed on October 15 when Walmart hosts its 20th annual investor conference.
Later in October, Walmart’s chief merchandising and marketing officer Duncan Mac Naughton is scheduled to participate in the 13th annual Emerging Trends in Retail conference organized by the Center for Retailing Excellence at the University of Arkansas’ Sam M. Walton of College of Business.
Mac Naughton will be part of a panel discussion at the October 30 event to address the topic of long term joint business planning along with Jeff Schomburger, president of Procter & Gamble’s global Walmart team and Dina Howell, worldwide CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi X.
The Emerging Trends conference also will feature a joint business planning discussion by a trio of merchants responsible for diverse categories. Walmart vp of candy and impulse merchandising, Joe Grady and vp of alcoholic beverage merchandising Latriece Watkins and Sam’s Club vp of grocery and snacks Heather Mayor are scheduled to address the topic of “the tasks at hand and what is on the horizon.”
One final noteworthy appearance this year by a senior Walmart executive occurs on November 14 when Gisel Ruiz, chief operating officer of Walmart U.S. speaks at a Bentonville Bella Vista Chamber of Commerce event for Walstreet members. As Walmart’s top operators, her comments should be particularly noteworthy so close to the holiday season and on the same day that Walmart is scheduled to report third quarter financial results.

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Fred’s ‘pleased’ with Q2 performance

BY CSA STAFF

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Fred’s experienced growth in sales, customer traffic, average ticket and gross margin for the second quarter ended Aug. 3.

The company’s net income for the quarter was $3.3 million, or $0.09 per diluted share, compared with net income of $6.1 million, or $0.17 per diluted share, in the year-earlier period. However, the prior-year quarter included a benefit of approximately $4 million, or $0.11 per diluted share, for favorable tax credits.

Adjusting to exclude those favorable tax credits, Fred’s net income for the quarter increased 63% from the second quarter last year, while earnings per diluted share increased 50%.

Total sales for the quarter increased 2% to $482.2 million from $470.8 million for the same period last year. Comparable store sales for the quarter increased 2.2% compared with a decline of 1% in the second quarter last year.

"We are pleased by the company’s performance during the second quarter, which was highlighted by a strong increase in both operating income and net income, excluding last year’s tax benefits,” said Bruce A. Efird, CEO. “We also were pleased with the progress of the first phase of our reconfiguration plan as the penetration of stores with pharmacies increased from 50% to 52% and we experienced strong comparable sales performance in our expanded Hometown Auto & Hardware departments.”

Fred’s anticipates that the competitive climate will be intense and the operating environment challenging in the second half of the year. Efird said that discretionary spending for lower-income consumers — a key customer segment for Fred’s — is expected to remain under pressure.

“The programs we put in place earlier this year, combined with our pharmacy expansion and the aggressive general merchandising initiatives we have planned in the back half of the year, are designed to meet these economic and competitive challenges,” added Efird. “We remain confident that our earnings for the year will fall in the middle to the upper end of the range we earlier projected, with earnings in the second half increasing 14% to 28% over the same period last year and earnings for the full year increasing 17% to 25% over 2012, excluding the tax benefit recorded last year."

Fred’s gross profit for the quarter increased 3% to $136 million from $131.8 million in the prior-year period. Gross margin for the quarter increased 20 basis points to 28.2% compared with 28% in the same quarter last year. Improvements were driven by an increased pharmacy department gross margin, specifically reflecting the impact of the brand-to-generic mix shift, and better shrinkage control.

During the quarter, Fred’s opened two new stores and one new Xpress location and closed 21 locations. Currently, Fred’s operates 697 discount general merchandise stores, including 21 franchised Fred’s stores, in the southeastern United States.

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