FINANCE

Home Depot to Cut 500 Jobs

BY CSA STAFF

Atlanta, Home Depot Inc. said on Thursday it will cut 500 jobs at its Atlanta store support center, or about 10% of the headquarters staff.

Company spokesman Ron DeFeo said employees were notified of the cuts Thursday. He said the company wants to ensure appropriate staff levels as it boosts funds for store improvements.

“Clearly we’re operating in a tough business environment,” he said. “We see that continuing into 2008.”

Employees to be idled will be paid through early April, DeFeo added.

Home Depot is upgrading stores, hiring more trade specialists and taking other steps to improve business and win back market share under Frank Blake, who took over as chief executive when Robert Nardelli resigned under criticism in early 2007.

The retailer, which faces increased competition as rival Lowe’s Cos Inc. expands into big U.S. cities, has forecast that earnings per share could fall as much as 11% for the 2007 fiscal year as the softer U.S. housing market cuts into sales. It is expected to report full-year and fourth-quarter results in February.

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Costco looks to open down under in ’09

BY CSA STAFF

BELLEVUE, Wash. Costco plans to open its first store in Australia in 2009 and is currently looking at sites for its first store down under.

At its annual shareholders meeting in Bellevue, Wash. on Jan. 29, Costco chairman of the board Jeffrey Brotman said Costco plans to “open in Australia sometime next year” when asked about the chain’s plans for international expansion.

Costco evp and cfo Richard Galanti later confirmed that Costco is searching for sites in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne. “We’re looking at opening there in 2009 if everything goes as expected,” said Galanti.

But Costco is still not ready to entertain a move into China. Brotman said Costco has been looking at China for years and said it’s, “still undecided, though we’re taking a hard look at it.”

During his presentation, ceo Jim Sinegal said Costco continued to push eco-friendly ideas in stores last year. He said Costco increased the number of stores powered by solar energy to 13 and that the company is considering solar panels for 25 more locations.

Sinegal also confirmed the 531-store chain plans to open 29 new stores this year and estimates Costco could eventually open 1,025 stores worldwide with more than 700 warehouses in the U.S.

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Giant Food Stores names head nutritionist

BY CSA STAFF

Carlisle, Pa. Giant Food Stores has hired Sylvia Emberger, R.D., L.D.N., as its corporate nutritionist, the company announced today.

Emberger will help set the strategic direction for Giant’s health and wellness programming and overseeing Giant and Martin’s in-store nutritionists. Emberger reports to Shirley Axe, acting manager for health and wellness.

Emberger most recently worked for The Hershey Company in the Hershey Center for Health and Nutrition where she focused on nutrition labeling and nutrition profiling of products. She also served as a lead dietitian for Messiah Village, a long term care facility, she was responsible for developing systems to track the nutritional status of nursing home and rehab residents.

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