SUPPLY CHAIN

Lowe’s wins top EPA transportation award

BY Dan Berthiaume

Mooresville, N.C. – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded Lowe’s Companies Inc. the highest honor for industry leadership in its SmartWay Transport Partnership. Lowe’s received a 2014 SmartWay Excellence Award for superior environmental performance in supply chain operations.

Lowe’s was one of 11 companies to receive this award, representing the best environmental performers of SmartWay’s nearly 3,000 partners. With 2014 recognition for its efforts to reduce emissions and improve fuel efficiency across the freight industry, Lowe’s became the only retail shipper partner ever to receive six SmartWay awards.

"Earning this distinction from the EPA and celebrating the work of all the SmartWay partners is a great reminder that Lowe’s is a part of something bigger," said Rick Gabrielson, Lowe’s VP of transportation. "It strengthens our commitment to continue to promote responsible transportation practices that benefit the freight industry, all of our communities and, ultimately, our customers."

Lowe’s helped launch the SmartWay program aimed at improving emissions of drayage trucks that deliver freight in and around U.S. ports. Today, two-thirds of Lowe’s import containers are transported by trucks that are 2007 models or newer. To reduce operational costs and emissions, Lowe’s continues to expand the use of trucks powered by natural gas, a cleaner and more economical alternative to diesel fuel. Natural gas trucks are now active at Lowe’s regional distributions centers in seven states, including a fully dedicated fleet that ships products out of Lowe’s distribution center in Mount Vernon, Texas. By the end of 2014, the company expects to service more than 20 percent of Lowe’s stores with natural gas trucks.

All domestic shipments routed by Lowe’s are transported by SmartWay carriers. Since 2005, the EPA program has helped Lowe’s carriers generate fuel savings of more than 180 million gallons and carbon-dioxide savings of more than 2 million tons, the equivalent of removing more than 420,000 cars from America’s roads.

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FINANCE

Alco swings to Q2 loss on expenses

BY Dan Berthiaume

Coppell, Texas – An increase in selling, general and administrative (SG&A) expenses driven by growing costs of advertising, new stores and store support helped Alco Stores Inc. swing to a net loss of $7 million in the second quarter of fiscal 2014 from net earnings of $800,000 a year earlier.

Net sales dropped 6% to $110.7 million, from $117.7 million. Same-store sales declined 8.9%.

According to Stanley B. Latacha, the recently appointed CEO of Alco, the company has a new management team dedicated to adapting to an evolving retail environment, managing the balance sheet, and driving sustainable change while focusing on smaller markets. The company is also attempting to launch a recapitalization.

"Alco is working hard to develop and implement a turnaround plan," said Latacha. "While our new board of directors and I have been in place with the company for only three weeks, we are wasting no time addressing the operational needs of the business as well as analyzing strategic alternatives for the company, including overhauling our balance sheet and evaluating options for raising additional capital. We are in the process of developing a strategy with our key financial stakeholders, including existing lenders, vendors, stockholders and landlords to create a long-term solution. The details of a recapitalization have yet to be finalized, but we are reviewing several alternatives. There is no pre-determined outcome to this work. Our highest priority is crafting a solution that maximizes value to all of our stakeholders."

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OPERATIONS

Toys ‘R’ Us plans 45,000 holiday hires

BY Dan Berthiaume

Wayne, N.J. – Toys ‘R Us Inc. plans to hire 45,000 seasonal employees at its stores and distribution centers nationwide, more than doubling the company’s workforce, as it prepares for the 2014 holiday shopping season.

The positions include sales associates, stock crew and omnichannel fulfillment teams, as well as distribution center workers and department managers.

“We’re looking for dedicated, customer-centric employees who will strive to help shoppers deliver a great Christmas for the little ones in their lives whenever, wherever and however they choose to shop with us this holiday season,” said Mark Eberly, VP of HR, Toys “R” Us U.S. “Ensuring we are fully staffed with knowledgeable employees is integral as we look to assist customers in crossing off items on their children’s wish lists.”

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