OPERATIONS

LivingSocial names Sears, Walgreens veteran as CFO

BY Dan Berthiaume

Washington, D.C. – Online marketplace LivingSocial appointed Atul Kavthekar as CFO. He will join the company in June, and will report to president and CEO Gautam Thakar.

Kavthekar has more than 20 years of experience in finance, banking and strategic business development. Prior to LivingSocial, he served as CFO and head of corporate development for Sears Holdings Corp.’s Health and Wellness Solutions business unit,responsible for overall financial management, corporate and business development, and strategic planning for the division.

Prior to Sears, Kavthekar was the CFO for Walgreens’ e-commerce division, where he oversaw the financial management and business development of the retailer’s rapidly growing, multi-billion dollar unit, including its mobile, tablet and website platform development. Also at Walgreens, he was a leader in mergers and acquisitions and strategic investing.

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FINANCE

Gap Q1 profit, sales down, hurt by strong dollar; Old Navy continues to surge

BY Dan Berthiaume

San Francisco — Gap Inc. posted an 8% decline in its first-quarter profit amid currency fluctuations, merchandise delays from the West Coast ports slowdown, and sluggish sales at its namesake and Banana Republic stores. On a positive note, Old Navy continued its strong performance.

Gap reported earnings of $239 million for the quarter ended May 2, down from $260 million the same period a year earlier. The results met Wall Street expectations. Net sales decreased 3% to $3.66 billion compared with $3.77 billion. Currency fluctuations and merchandise delays affected sales as well as profits.

Global same-store sales fell 10% at the namesake Gap banner and 8% at the Banana Republic banner. But they increased 3% at Old Navy, coming on top of three consecutive years of growth.

“Old Navy’s performance gives me confidence – the team has hit the right formula and they are consistently delivering a truly aspirational experience that’s resonating with customers,” said Art Peck, CEO of Gap Inc..

Addressing the company’s troubled namesake brand, Peck said ”Gap remains a top priority as we focus on reestablishing the brand’s aesthetic to bring to life an optimistic and elevated sense of American style.”

The company said it expects to open about 115 company-operated stores, focused on greater China, Athleta and global outlet stores. It ended the first with 3,749 store locations in 51 countries, of which 3,309 were company-operated.

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FINANCE

Aeropostale shrinks net loss in Q1 amid cost reductions; sales decline 19%

BY Dan Berthiaume

New York — Aeropostale Inc. managed to shrink its net loss in the first quarter of fiscal 2015, even as sales declined. The mall-based specialty retailer reported a net loss of $45.27 million, down from $76.78 million, amid reductions in selling, general and administrative expenses (SG&A) and restructuring charges helped cut net loss.

Net sales dropped 19% to $318.6 million from $395.9 million. Same-store sales, including e-commerce, fell 11%.

“As we anticipated, the first quarter of 2015 represented a period of transition for us,” said Julian R. Geiger, CEO. “We worked our way through a number of issues, including a merchandise assortment that was not consistent with our future direction, unseasonably cool weather, and the West Coast port slowdown. However, the performance of our women's division exceeded our expectations, and we were encouraged by the demand we were able to create through certain key items and promotions."

Looking ahead, Geiger emphasized that the back to school period represents the time when all of the strategies the chan has instituted over the last nine months should come to fruition.

“To prepare for this key selling season, we are focused on optimizing the quantity and composition of our merchandise to ensure a successful Back to School launch,” he said. “We are enthusiastic about seeing the results that this key period will bring.

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