FINANCE

J.C. Penney cites improving sales in September; sees ample year-end liquidity

BY Marianne Wilson

Plano, Texas — J.C. Penney Co. on Tuesday said that it was making “solid progress” in its turnaround as it reported a smaller decline in same-store sales for September, compared to August. The company also said it expects that it will have ample liquidity at year end.

While Penney’s September same-store sales fell 4% over the same month last year, they showed an improvement of 580 basis points compared with August.

Penney said its online sales continue to trend double digits ahead of last year, and are up 18.6% in the third quarter to date. September sales on jcp.com experienced 25.3% sales growth over the same period last year.

Departments performing better than average included women’s and men’s apparel, fine jewelry and women’s accessories. Women’s apparel, Penney’s largest business, reported positive sales in September.

"Over the last six months, we have made significant strides and are now seeing positive signs in many important areas of the business, in spite of what continues to be a difficult environment for consumers and retailers in general," CEO Myron Ullman said in a statement. “While pleased with the improving trends and more predictable performance, we are still in the early stages of the turnaround and will maintain a relentless focus on achieving our long-term goals for the benefit of our customers, associates and shareholders."

The company reiterated that it would end the year with more than $2 billion in cash, after taking into account proceeds of $785 million from a recent stock sale.

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J.Shaughness says:
Oct-09-2013 01:21 pm

"a smaller decline in same-store sales for September" is only good news for the JCP suicide watch folks.

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OPERATIONS

Walmart, Lowes and Pacific Business Group on Health launch innovative healthcare program

BY Mike Troy

New York — Walmart and Lowe’s have joined the Pacific Business Group on Health Negotiating Alliance (PBGH-NA) to launch the national Employers Centers of Excellence Network that will offer no-cost knee and hip-replacement surgeries for employees at four highly regarded hospitals in the United States.

PBGH and health care management company Health Design Plus will oversee the program which includes treatment for knee and hip replacement surgeries for the more than 1.5 million employees and their dependents enrolled in the Walmart, Lowe’s and other employers’ medical plans.

The only catch for employees is that they are required to obtain care at one of four designated center of excellence health care organizations: Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore, Md.; Kaiser Permanente Orange County Irvine Medical Center in Irvine, Calif.; Mercy Hospital in Springfield, Mo.; and Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle.

“This national program is about providing our associates with exceptional care and reducing their medical costs so that they pay nothing out of pocket when they use one of the designated facilities,” said Sally Welborn, senior VP of global benefits at Walmart. ”Each of these providers has a proven record of practicing evidence-based medicine with above average positive patient outcomes in knee and hip replacement procedures.”

Employees will receive consultations and care covered at 100% without deductible or coinsurance, plus travel, lodging and living expenses for the patient and a caregiver. Patients must be healthy enough to travel for the surgeries. The program is voluntary and employees or their covered dependents can still choose to receive care from local providers and incur routine costs, according to program rules.

According to Lowe’s VP of international human resources Randy Moon, “Under this program, employees and their dependents covered under Lowe’s medical plan have access to medical care at renowned medical facilities at no cost. This is especially important for our employees who live in areas underserved by high quality health care providers. The four healthcare centers are located throughout the U.S., making it easier for employees who wish to use this benefit to travel.”

The national Employers Centers of Excellence Network complements Centers of Excellence programs that Walmart and Lowe’s have and will continue to offer separately from the alliance with PBGH-NA. In 2013, Walmart expanded its long-standing program covering transplants at the Mayo Clinic to also include treatment for certain heart and spine surgeries at five leading hospital and health systems in the U.S., including ECEN providers Virginia Mason and Mercy Springfield, for associates and their covered dependents enrolled in medical plans. 


In 2010, Lowe’s began an alliance with Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, to provide its full-time employees and their covered dependents enrolled in the company’s self-funded medical plans enhanced benefits coverage for qualifying heart surgery procedures.

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OPERATIONS

OfficeMax introduces new services center

BY Marianne Wilson

Naperville, Ill. — OfficeMax announced that it has launched new Services Center in its stores nationwide to provide business owners the essential operations support they need to grow.

The new center offers an extensive portfolio of more than 40 services designed to relieve administrative burden and assist businesses with critical needs, including web design and maintenance, 24/7 On-Call Tech Support, printing and document management, marketing materials, shipping, credit card and payroll processing, human resource services and legal assistance.

"This new data advances what we found in extensive national research with business owners of all sizes," said Kim Feil, OfficeMax executive VP and chief marketing and strategy officer. "Business owners spend a lot of time conducting support work that, while critical, takes them away from working with their customers and growing their business. They want to refocus their time building their businesses, and they want reliable partners who will address their specific needs. Our new OfficeMax Services Center builds on services we have always provided to give business owners a complete range of essential support, from credit card processing and payroll services to IT support and cloud storage solutions."

Business owners receive guidance from the OfficeMax Services Center staff to personalize their services and bundle services to increase value and savings.

"The introduction of the OfficeMax Services Center expands upon our services evolution. We’re pleased to have our store associates working in partnership with customers to assess customers’ business needs and connect them with the best solutions and services packages to streamline their support functions and, in turn, free up time to focus on business growth," to said Michael Lewis, OfficeMax executive VP and president of retail.

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