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Kroger’s Loss Widens in Q4

BY CSA STAFF

Cincinnati, Kroger Co. posted a loss of $675.9 million in the fourth quarter ended Jan. 29, compared to a loss of $337.4 million in the same quarter last year. The company’s identical store sales including fuel increased 2.1% as total sales increased 5.1% to $13.7 billion.

Kroger’s results include a goodwill impairment charge of $884 million related to the Ralphs and Food 4 Less operations, which operate about 450 stores in Southern California. In a statement, the retailer pointed to strong sales momentum. “This momentum has continued in fiscal 2005, with identical food-store sales through the first five weeks running ahead of our fourth-quarter results,” said David Dillon, chairman and CEO.

For all of 2004, Kroger lost $128 million, compared to earnings of $314.6 million in the prior year. Full-year sales rose to $56.4 billion from $53.8 billion a year earlier.

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NRF Urges Senate to Reject Minimum-Wage Increase Amendment

BY CSA STAFF

Washington, The National Retail Federation (NRF) today encouraged the Senate to reject an amendment that would raise the federal hourly minimum wage to $7.25 in three steps over 26 months. It would be an increase of $2.10, or 41%, over the current $5.15 minimum. The amendment, which the Senate will vote on today, would add a minimum wage increase to S 256, the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005.

Steve Pfister, NRF senior VP for Government Relations, said, “Not only would the increase proposed by Senator Kennedy represent an unprecedented and extreme hike in the entry-level wage, it also would serve as a poison bill to the bankruptcy bill, which has been a long-standing priority of the retail industry.”

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Monday Afternoon Earnings Roundup

BY CSA STAFF

•Freeport, Maine-based L.L. Bean announced annual net sales of $1.4 billion for the 2004 fiscal year ended Feb. 27, which is a 9% increase over 2003 net sales of $1.3 billion. In addition, comp-store sales increased 7% over 2003.

The company plans to convert a factory store in New Hampshire to a retail store this year, and also intends to open two new stores in 2006, and three stores in 2007. The new stores all are planned for the New England/mid-Atlantic region.

•San Francisco-based Dick’s Sporting Goods reported net income for the year ended Jan. 29, 2005, was $75.1 million, or $1.42 per share, compared to net income of $50.7 million, or $1.01 per share, for the 2004 fiscal year. Total sales for the year increased 43% to $2.1 billion, while comp-store sales increased 2.6%. For the fourth quarter ended Jan. 29, Dick’s reported net income of $39.9 million, or 75? a share, compared to $26 million, or 50? per share, for the same period in 2004. Net sales increased to $788 million from $474.4 million. Fourth-quarter net earnings were bolstered by Dick’s July 2004 acquisition of Galyan’s Trading Co.

•Hudson, Ohio-based Jo-Ann Stores reported that net income for the year ended Jan. 29 increased 15.2% to $46.2 million, compared to $40.1 million in fiscal 2004. Net sales for the fiscal year increased 4.5% to $1.81 billion from $1.7 billion in 2004. Comp-store sales increased 3.2%. For the fourth quarter, Jo-Ann reported net income of $32.4 million, compared to $26.7 million in the prior year. Fourth-quarter net sales increased 6.4% to $588.2 million from $552.6 million a year ago. Jo-Ann Stores, which ended the year with 851 stores, expects to open about 40 superstores this year and close about 50 traditional units.

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