FINANCE

Home Depot commits to helping weather-impacted communities

BY CSA STAFF

Atlanta — The Home Depot Foundation announced that it has created a $1 million weather impact fund to aid relief, recovery and rebuilding efforts in response to the recent storms throughout the Southeast and Midwest United States, and in expectation of continuing violent storms throughout the spring season.

As a part of this commitment, The Home Depot Foundation said it is donating $250,000 to the American Red Cross for immediate relief needs in response to yesterday’s tornadoes and storms that caused serious damage through the Southeast. Throughout the month, the Foundation has been responding with donations to nonprofits that are assisting communities affected by recent severe weather in St. Louis, southern Illinois, Wisconsin and Iowa. Future funding will be deployed to local stores, communities and nonprofits as needed.

"This spring has seen an extraordinary spate of storms and tornadoes that have devastated many parts of the country, and at this early stage of the season, it’s likely to be one of the worst springs in history in terms of storm damage and destruction. We are a part of these communities and it is our responsibility to help -– not only with the needs today, but as these communities start rebuilding," said Frank Blake, chairman and CEO of The Home Depot.

In addition to funding, Team Depot, the company’s associate-led volunteer force, has been mobilized locally to help with relief and recovery efforts, Home Depot reported.

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FINANCE

Weis expands 2011 cap ex budget

BY Michael Johnsen

Sunbury, Pa. — Weis Markets on Thursday announced an increase of its 2011 capital expenditure budget by 7% to $110 million. The current budget includes 14 major remodels, two additions and three new/replacement stores.

The company currently is building a replacement unit near Reading, a new unit near Easton and a replacement unit near State College, all in Pennsylvania.

"We’ve significantly increased the pace and tempo of our growth," stated Jonathan Weis, vice chairman of Weis Markets, during the grocer’s annual shareholders meeting. "Over the past two years, we’ve averaged 15 major projects — triple what we were doing a couple of years ago — and our cap ex budget has increased by nearly 35% during this period. We continue to reinvest in our stores, information technology systems and human capital at an unprecedented rate."

Weis Markets president and CEO David Hepfinger also reported that the company would continue to increase its technology investments, which has totaled $25 million in recent years. "While we will continue to make major investments in our store base, our growth will be based on more than just bricks and mortar," Hepfinger said. "Effective Information technology systems are essential to our growth and success. We are determined to give our associates the tools and analytics they need to do better serve the needs of our business and our customers."

In related news, Weis’ board of directors declared a quarterly dividend of 29 cents per share to shareholders of record as of May 9, payable on May 23.

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News

FAO Schwarz, Kidlandia help kids create worlds

BY CSA STAFF

NEW YORK – Kidlandia, a company that enables children to create such personalized items as maps, kingdoms and family trees, has opened its first in-store boutique at FAO Schwarz in Midtown Manhattan.

Working with a dedicated FAO Schwarz associate, children and their families can use the Kidlandia Kiosk, which utilizes hardware provided by HP, to create their own personalized kingdom. Customers can select from Kidlandia’s own map designs, or choose a map featuring popular characters from Disney and Nickelodeon. Each map will be designated the land of the child’s name provided, and for further personalization, other names of family and friends can be added, which then become the names of locations on the map.

In addition, as an exclusive to FAO Schwarz, guests can select a map of Manhattan and use it as a way to remember their trip.

The Kidlandia Personalization Boutique will offer 24 x 18-inch Kidlandia fine art prints that will be packaged in a travel-friendly tube for the customer, the company reported.

“2011 will be a monumental year for Kidlandia,” said Kidlandia CEO Brian Backus. “The company was born to give every child their own kingdom to rule. All these exciting new initiatives and products are certain to entertain, educate, and delight kids and parents, and also capture important moments in a highly personalized gift.”

Kidlandia also has an online retail presence with Disney Store, Pottery Barn and Gilte Group. The company said it is developing other relationships with brick-and-mortar retailers.

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