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Kmart up, Sears down in December

BY CSA STAFF

Hoffman Estates, Ill. — A 2.3% same-store sales gain at Kmart was not enough to offset a 6% decline at Sears resulting in an overall 1.7% decline for the combined companies domestic operations during the five week December reporting period ended Jan. 1.

The December results were released as parent company Sears Holdings updated its earning guidance for the quarter ending Jan. 29 and indicated profits per share would exceed analysts’ consensus estimate of $3.09 and fall in a range of $3.39 to $4.12 with net income between $370 million and $450 million. For the fourth quarter to date, Kmart’s same store sales are up 3.4% while Sears is down by 5.3%. Last year, fourth quarter profits were $3.74 a share or $430 million.

The quarter to date gain at Kmart is attributable to the layaway program and strength in categories such as toys, home, sporting goods, apparel and footwear, according to the company. However, those increases were partially offset by declines in the food and consumables and pharmacy categories.

The sales difficulties seen at Sears are the same as those affecting other retailers with significant exposure to the consumer electronics category and televisions in particular. Price deflation and moderating sales of existing flat panel sets coupled with a slow uptake of newer technologies has hindered sales growth at Best Buy, HH Gregg and Target. Over half of the decline at Sears occurred in consumer electronics category, but appliances and tools also experiencing declines, according to the company. Conversely, Sears said footwear, jewelry and automotive categories produced comparable store sales growth during the quarter-to-date period.

The company also updated its financial position and said it expects to end the year with approximately $1.1 billion in net cash balances and no outstanding borrowings under its $2 billion domestic credit facility. Sears Holdings plans to report its fourth quarter and full year results before the market opens on Feb. 24.

Improved profits during the fourth quarter will be offset by losses earlier in the year results in the company reporting full year net income between $130 million and $210 million, or between $1.16 and $1.88 per share. Last year, net income totaled $235 million or $1.99 per share.

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Charming Charlie, Kronos team toward workforce management

BY CSA STAFF

Chelmsford, Mass. — Kronos said Monday that fashion accessory retailer Charming Charlie has selected Kronos’ end-to-end workforce management solution to sustain growth, increase productivity and improve employee retention.

Charming Charlie selected the time and attendance, forecasting and scheduling, hiring, labor analytics and human resources and payroll applications from Kronos.

“Kronos will help us achieve the right blend of effective hiring, scheduling and trend analysis to maximize sales,” said Ron Batts, director of store operations for Charming Charlie.

Charming Charlie is replacing manual processes with the Kronos solution. “By automating workforce management processes at this critical growth juncture, Charming Charlie has displayed a progressive attitude and dedication toward customers and employees,” said Charlie DeWitt, VP of vertical marketing for Kronos.

Kronos made the announcement at the National Retail Federation convention in New York City.

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Giant Eagle selects Galleria for behavioral cluster planning

BY CSA STAFF

Chicago — Galleria announced that Giant Eagle has signed an agreement to deploy its Behavioral Cluster Planning solution, a behavioral-based clustering solution that provides consumer insight and analysis.

The solution will cluster Giant Eagle’s stores based on product and category performance to help the retailer gain more insight to its shoppers’ needs to accurately meet customer demand. An existing customer of Galleria, Giant Eagle is currently using Galleria’s Customer-Centric Merchandising and Promotional Display Optimization solutions and plans to roll out the Behavioral Cluster Planning solution in 2011.

“We continuously work to better understand our customers’ wants and needs to provide them with the best shopping experience possible,” said Dan Schnorr, senior director of retail space planning at Giant Eagle. “We continue to have great success with Galleria’s other merchandising solutions and look forward to deploying Behavioral Cluster Planning to further optimize sales opportunities and help ensure we have the right products for our customers in store.”

Using Galleria’s automated application, the supermarket retailer can cluster stores based on product and category performance. Through a combination of bottom-up and top-town methodologies, the solution accounts for local demographics, sales patterns, store sizes and store locations. The process will enable Giant Eagle to determine the ideal amount of clusters for each category to ensure the benefits of localization are balanced against the costs of implementation.

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