FINANCE

Kohl’s profit soars 20% in Q3

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Menomonee Falls, Wis. — Kohl’s Corp. reported Thursday that profit for the quarter ended Oct. 29 rose 20% to $211 million, compared with $176 million in the year-ago period.

The retailer cited cost cuts and strong demand for exclusive brands for the strong performance, which matched Wall Street expectations.

“The launch of our Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony brands during the quarter met our aggressive sales plans,” said Kevin Mansell, Kohl’s president and CEO. “We expect our collection of powerful brands supported by significant marketing investments, especially in broadcast and digital media, to deliver a strong holiday season.”

Revenue rose 4% to $4.4 billion in the quarter, up from $4.2 billion. Same-store sales rose 2.1%.

Kohl’s opened 31 stores during the third quarter, and completed 15 remodels.

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FINANCE

99 Cents Only profit up 17% in Q2, on track to open 12 stores in second half

BY Katherine Boccaccio

City of Commerce, Calif. — Discounter 99 Cents Only Stores reported Wednesday that profit for the second quarter rose 17% to $15.1 million, compared with $12.9 million a year earlier.

Revenue rose 8.8% to $363 million, beating analysts’ expected $357.3 million. Same-store sales increased 6.7%.

The company said it plans to open 12 new stores in the second half of its fiscal year, the majority in California. It also announced plans to accelerate store growth rate in fiscal 2013, with the majority of those stores also opening in California.

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OPERATIONS

NRF survey: Return fraud to cost retailers $3.5 billion this holiday season

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Washington, D.C. — Survey results released Thursday by the National Retail Federation found that fewer retailers expect return fraud rates to grow this holiday season, due in part to stronger checks and balances and to enhanced return policies.

According to NRF’s annual Return Fraud Survey, completed by loss prevention executives at 103 retailers, the retail industry will lose an estimated $3.48 billion to return fraud this holiday season, down from $3.73 billion last year. Annual return fraud will cost retailers an estimated $14.37 billion in 2011, up slightly from $13.66 billion in 2010.

“Those who think they will be able to get away with manipulating a company’s return policy will be sorely disappointed this holiday season,” said Joe LaRocca, senior asset protection advisor for NRF. “Retailers have been putting checks and balances in place to prevent people from taking advantage of stores’ return policies, which raises prices for honest shoppers.”

According to the survey, 89.1% retailers say they have experienced the return of stolen merchandise in the last year, and just as many (89.1%) report that employee return fraud or collusion with external sources has been a problem in the past year. Wardrobing – the return of used, non-defective merchandise like special occasion apparel and certain electronics – also poses a huge issue, as 61.4% of retailers say they been victims of this activity within the last year.

Additionally, 81.2% say they have experienced the return of merchandise purchased on fraudulent or stolen tender, and 38.6% have found criminals using counterfeit receipts to return merchandise.

When asked if their company has ever changed its return policy to specifically address return fraud, nearly two-thirds (64%) said it had.

The growing problem of return fraud has forced many retailers to adopt policies which require customers returning merchandise to show identification. Retailers have made significant progress in reducing fraudulent returns when a receipt is present, as the survey found 2.89% of returns with a receipt are fraudulent, down from 3.89% in 2010. Of those without a receipt, retailers estimate 14.02% of those returns are fraudulent. As a result, 62.1% now require customers returning items without a receipt to show identification. Slightly more than 10% of retailers require customers making returns with a receipt to show ID.

Most respondents (82.5%) said their return policies will remain unchanged this holiday season, on par with last year, but slightly more (12.6% versus 10.9% in 2010) will tighten their policies to combat the typical excess return fraud they see each year during the holiday season.

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