FINANCE

Kmart Workers, Retirees in Pension Deal

BY CSA STAFF

Troy, Mich., As many as 150,000 employees and retirees of the former Kmart Corp. would share $11.75 million in a proposed settlement of a lawsuit against ex-company officials over the investment of pension funds in Kmart’s now worthless stock. The agreement involves those who participated in Kmart pensions from March 15, 1999, to March 6, 2003.

“The settlement is fair, reasonable and in the best interest of the class and should, therefore, be approved,” Glen Connor, a Birmingham, Ala., lawyer for one retiree who filed a class-action lawsuit, said in court papers filed Monday. The papers asked Detroit U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn to approve the deal.

The settlement would be paid from proceeds of a $25 million insurance policy from National Union Fire Insurance Co., the Detroit Free Press said.

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Black Friday Jump-Starts Spending

BY CSA STAFF

New York City, Statistics from Black Friday continue to trickle in, and they paint a mostly optimistic picture of the holiday selling season. While discounters made news with their long lines of bargain hunters in the wee hours of the morning on Friday, the malls are hoping for better things to come as the holiday progresses

Nationwide, sales Thursday through Sunday were up nearly 22% to $27.8 billion from $22.8 billion last year, according to a shopping survey by the National Retail Federation, based in Washington, D.C. The spending was fueled by deep discounts and demand for electronics, the NRF said. Big winners over the weekend appear to be the discounters. Wal-Mart Stores, the world’s largest retailer, said Saturday that it expects to post a solid 4.3% gain in same-store sales for November, helped by better-than expected sales on Friday.

Separately, Visa USA said retail spending on Visa credit and debit cards rose 11% to $3.7 billion on Nov. 25-26, led by purchases of electronics. According to New Canaan, Conn.-based Customer Growth Partners (CGP), sales in November are showing strength year over year. Total sales are up 9.0%, home improvement is up 13%, electronics up 14%, discount stores up 10% and e-commerce up 11%. The CGP estimates for the period Nov. 1-26 uses data from the U.S. Census Bureau/Monthly Retail Trade Survey and company data. “The headline is that, so far, the holiday season is a home run, but as they say in the wine business, ‘One swallow does not a season make,” said CGP president Craig Johnson.

ShopperTrak RCT Corp., which tracks total sales at about 45,000 retail outlets, said overall sales on Friday were relatively unchanged compared with a year ago, despite heavier discounting and expanded hours that drew a surge of shoppers in the early morning. The Chicago-based research group reported total sales at $8 billion, down 0.9% from a year ago.

“Although the Black Friday number is a bit flat, this may be misleading as we’re comparing this to a very strong 2004 performance,” said Michael P. Niemira, chief economist and director of research for the International Council of Shopping Centers, in a statement.

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New Chief at 7-Eleven

BY CSA STAFF

Dallas, 7-Eleven, Inc. named Joseph M. DePinto president and CEO of the company effective Dec. 1. DePinto will replace Jim Keyes, who retired from the company earlier this month. DePinto will oversee all strategic, operational and financial aspects of the company, and will report to Toshifumi Suzuki, chairman and CEO of Seven-Eleven Japan Co., Ltd. DePinto, 43, is returning to 7-Eleven from GameStop Corp., one of the world’s largest video-game and entertainment software retailers, where he has served as president since March 2005. Before joining GameStop, DePinto was VP of operations at 7-Eleven.

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