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Kohl’s Q1 profit falls 5% but beats Street

BY Marianne Wilson

Menomonee Falls, Wis. — Kohl’s Corp. reported a 5% drop in first-quarter profit on weak sales fell due to unseasonably cold weather in large parts of the United States.

Kohl’s net income fell to $147 million in the quarter ended May 4, down from $154 million a year earlier.

Sales fell 1% to $4.2 billion. Comparable-store sales fell 1.9%.

“After a slow start, sales improved considerably in April as the weather finally improved in our most weather-sensitive regions,” said Kevin Mansell, Kohl’s chairman, president and CEO. “Despite the lower than expected sales, we outperformed our earnings guidance as gross margin results and expense management were better than expected. Our inventory levels are consistent with our expectations."

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Swedish retailer taps Starcounter to power supply chain management application

BY Staff Writer

Stockholm, Sweden — Starcounter announced that its high performance in-memory NoSQL database powers the supply chain management application utilized by Gekas, a superstore in Sweden visited by 4.5 million customers each year. With 100,000 different products in stock and all items in its warehouse sold out more than three times per week, Gekas uses the low-cost system from Heads, a real-time retail application vendor, to integrate and streamline its entire supply chain, from procurement and its central warehouse to customer sales.

“Big standard supply chain management solutions are too complex and expensive, and most other systems are focused on financials and bookkeeping. We wanted an ERP system that focuses on our critical business processes, and the Heads solution based on Starcounter’s NoSQL database fit the bill,” said Johan Armfelt, CIO of Gekas. “In addition to centralizing all of our retail items in real time, the solution lowers our maintenance costs, as all data is stored in just one central server. It also cost less to develop compared to buying a big standard system and having to customize it to meet our needs.”

Starcounter’s database enables Heads to provide Gekas with a high performance system that processes large volumes of ACID-compliant database transactions per second on a single server. The database also offers continuous traceability of all retail items in real time. For example, for each product, Gekas’ procurement officer can see how much has been sold and how much remains in stock, both in real time.

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Tardy tax refunds, cool weather affect Walmart’s Q1

BY CSA STAFF

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Same store sales at Walmart’s U.S. stores declined 1.4% in the first quarter, but the retailer forecasts comps should rebound during the second quarter.

Sales were just below Wall Street expectations as the giant retailer struggled with a number of issues that impacted its U.S. sales, from the payroll tax increase to an unseasonably cold spring to delayed tax returns. The discounter also scaled back its earnings expectations for the current three-month period.

Net income rose 1.1% to $3.8 billion. Revenue edged up 1%, to $113.4 billion.

"Frankly, we had a more difficult quarter than expected when we announced our guidance in February,” said Walmart CEO Mike Duke on the company’s first quarter earnings conference call. “Sales were pressured primarily by delayed tax refunds, which caused customers to put off discretionary purchases. And though no one likes to talk about weather, it was a real factor across the United States.”

Comp traffic was down 1.8% and the average ticket increased 0.4%.

"Despite comps being lower than expected, we continued to generate market share gains," stated Bill Simon, Walmart U.S. president and CEO. "According to The Nielsen Company, we gained 20 basis points of market share in the measured category of ‘food, consumables and health & wellness/OTC’ during the 13-weeks ended Apr. 27, 2013."

Simon was optimistic looking forward, and said that the second quarter is off to a good start, with positive comps.

"We continue to believe in the strength of our strategic plan to deliver a broad assortment with EDLP,” he said. “We also continue to monitor the impact of the 2% payroll tax increase.”

At Sam’s Club, sales rose 0.2%, while comp traffic was up 1.3%, while ticket was down 1.1% for the 13-week period ended April 26.

"Comp sales for the first quarter were impacted by unfavorable weather and less than expected inflation," stated Rosalind Brewer, Sam’s Club president and CEO. "Our business member is an integral part of our business, and comp sales and traffic patterns indicated that they remained pressured in the first quarter.”

In remarks released with the company’s results, Duke echoed Simon’s optimism.

“I’m confident about our long-term strategy and the direction Walmart is headed," he stated. "Our expectations about our U.S. businesses’ performance, coupled with more discipline in International, will allow us to improve our performance throughout the year."

Duke also noted that the chain’s e-commerce sales grew more than 30% in the first quarter versus last year.

"There is no doubt that our company is making the right investments in e-commerce to differentiate ourselves and become a better Walmart," said Duke. "And with our sales growth in the first quarter, we believe our investments are paying off."

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