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Mexican and Chilean operations among Latin America’s top BrandZ

BY CSA STAFF

Walmart’s Bodega Aurrera stores in Mexico and Lider stores in Chile are among the most valuable Brands in Latin American, according to an extensive new report by global communications giant WPP.

The firm’s Millward Brown division in conjunction with BrandAnalytics conducted an extensive research project to assign and rank the value of brands in such leading Latin American countries as Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Chile and Colombia. In Mexico, Walmart’s Bodega Aurrera brand ranked 22nd overall and fifth within the list of Mexican brands. Walmart’s Lider stores in Chile ranked 26th overall and sixth within the list of Chilean companies.

Regarding Mexico, the report noted that “the Bodega Aurrera discount store brand is the dominant and fastest growing format operated by Walmart de Mexico y Centroamerica. Bodega Aurrera added a record 305 units in 2011, ending the year with a total of 1,204 stores. The stores offer both food and general merchandise in three different formats sized to local market needs. The store portfolio includes 385 full size Bodega Aurrera outlets, 227 medium size Mi Bodega Aurrera stores and 592 small format Bodega Aurrera Express locations. The brand emphasizes low prices and features a masked wrestler character named Mama Lucha. Clad in a green costume bearing the Bodega Aurrera logo, she serves as “la campeona de los precios bajos” (the champion of low prices).

The Bodega Aurrera brand was founded in 1958 by Cifra SA de CV, a company that began trading on the Mexican stock exchange in 1977. In 1991, Cifra entered into a joint venture with Wal-Mart Stores Inc., to begin opening Wal-Mart stores in Mexico. In 1997, Wal-Mart acquired a controlling stake in Cifra and in 2000 the company’s name was changed to Wal-Mart de Mexico, SAB de CV. In 2010 Wal-Mart Mexico acquired the Central American operations of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., and became known as Walmart de Mexico y Centroamerica.

Walmart’s Lider brand in Chile operates 69 supermarkets that average 71,000 square feet (6,600 square meters), as well as 57 smaller format Express Lider stores, which average 17,000 square feet (1,600 square meters).

“The brand grew slowly in 2011 as Lider and Express Lider each added one unit,” according to the report.

In early 2009 Wal-Mart Stores Inc. acquired a controlling interest in the Lider brand’s parent company, Distribucion y Servicios D&S SA. The following year D&S changed its name to Walmart Chile SA.

“Under Walmart’s ownership the Lider brand has placed an increased emphasis on every day low prices in keeping with the longstanding strategy of its parent company,” according to the report. “In addition, growth of the Lider brand has taken a backseat to Walmart Chile’s other food formats, Ekono and SuperBodega aCuenta, which serve the market in a no frills and limited assortment fashion.”

Walmart Chile added 23 small format Ekono stores to end 2011 with 137 units. And it added 13 SuperBodega aCuenta stores to end the year with 51 units. Walmart Chile ended 2011 with a total of 314 food formats operating under four different banners.

For more details on the rankings and the report’s methodology click here.

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New York & Company names new COO

BY CSA STAFF

NEW YORK — New York & Company, a specialty apparel chain with 541 retail stores in operation as of May 17, has named Laura Weil as EVP, COO, effective immediately. Weil, an executive consultant of New York & Company since Feb. 1, will continue to report to Greg Scott, CEO, and lead the company’s planning and allocation, sourcing, product life management, real estate, and information technology areas.

“We are pleased to have Laura join our company in a permanent position on our executive team,” stated Greg Scott, New York & Company’s CEO. “Laura is a talented leader with a proven turnaround record in women’s retail. In her short time with our organization, Laura has been an effective business partner to me and our entire executive team. She has already made valuable contributions to our business processes and in several key operational areas including our merchandise planning process. Importantly, she shares our vision and corporate values making her a natural fit for this key role. With this addition, we have assembled a strong leadership team across all areas of our company from design to merchandising, marketing, operations, finance, and human resources. We expect the combined efforts of our executive team to position our company for improved operating performance and positive long term growth.”

Weil joins New York & Company following a successful career in retail and investment banking spanning more than 25 years. Prior to joining New York & Company, she was CEO of Ashley Stewart, a fashion apparel and accessory retailer for women, from 2008 to 2011. Before that, she served as COO and senior EVP of Ann Taylor. From 1995 to 2005, she spent ten years as CFO and EVP of American Eagle Outfitters. Weil has held various consulting positions throughout her career and began her career at Lehman Brothers as a corporate finance analyst.

“I am equally excited to join the Company in a permanent role and believe strongly in the ability of New York & Company to become a destination for fashionable wear-to-work solutions at a great value,” stated Laura Weil, EVP and COO. “A significant opportunity exists to build upon the Company’s strategies and create a more powerful operational platform that is poised for sustained growth. I look forward to continuing to partner with Greg and the entire executive team to achieve our goals.”

About New York & Company

New York & Company, Inc. is a leading specialty retailer of women’s fashion apparel and accessories, and the modern wear-to-work destination for women, providing perfectly fitting pants and NY Style that is feminine, polished, on-trend and versatile—all at an amazing value. The Company’s proprietary branded New York & Company® merchandise is sold exclusively through its national network of retail stores and eCommerce store at www.nyandcompany.com. As of May 17, 2012, the Company operated 541 retail stores in 43 states. Additionally, certain product, press release and SEC filing information concerning the Company are available at the Company’s website: www.nyandcompany.com.

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And the dollar stores keep coming

BY CSA STAFF

Family Dollar’s third quarter results were not as good as expected, but only marginally so, and the company’s growth strategy and potential to steal traffic from Walmart remain intact.

Family Dollar on Thursday reported results for its third quarter ended May 26 that increased 16.5% to 1.06 a share, a penny shy of analysts’ estimates for the widely followed company. Revenues that increased 9.6% to $2.36 billion were also slightly less than analysts forecast. Same-store sales increased 5% with the strongest performance coming in seasonal, electronics and consumable categories as customer traffic and average transaction sizes were higher.

“I am especially pleased that we delivered these record results even as we launched multiple initiatives late in the quarter to increase our relevancy to the customer and drive greater store productivity,” Levine said. “Delivering stronger shareholder returns begins with increasing sales per square foot, and this quarter, we began to implement a number of initiatives to broaden our consumable assortment and satisfy more of our customers’ shopping trips.”

The Family Dollar results were released during a week that saw its larger rival and more successful competitor, Dollar General, hold a meeting for analysts that further cemented its leadership position in terms of financial performance. Family Dollar is looking to narrow the gap and doing a lot of the things that made Dollar General successful and make both companies a threat to Walmart.

Family Dollar through the first three quarters of the year has opened 287 new stores and now operates 7,267 units, about 3,000 units less than Dollar General, which surpassed 10,000 stores earlier this year.

While Family Dollar isn’t opening stores as rapidly, it is makes significant merchandise moves including the addition of food, health and beauty products, cigarettes and RedBox rental kiosks.

During a conference call, Levine elaborated on the company’s food initiatives by noting, “This year, we plan to expand coolers in about 1,400 stores that are not part of this year’s renovation program. In the third quarter, we expanded coolers in about 700 stores and expect to complete the rollout by the end of August.”

The company also began expanding its food assortments by adding 250 items and more are on the way thanks to a relationship with McLane, a company Walmart used to own.
“In mid-September, our new supply chain partner, McLane, will begin to service our stores and we will enhance our selection of refrigerated and frozen food even further,” Levine said. “Our partnership with McLane will enable us to establish a national supply chain for refrigerated and frozen merchandise that will provide both the scale and service to support this growing segment of the business. Once these improvements are in place, I believe we will offer our customers a very competitive selection of food.”

Another key initiative is an increased emphasis on health and beauty products. Assortments were expanded last year and Family Dollar promotes the category aggressively with weekly ads and in store signage.

What’s likely to really move the sales and traffic needle in the months if not years ahead is the availability of cigarettes. Family Dollar has added cigarettes to about 1,300 stores so far and by year end cigarettes will be available at a projected 6,000 locations. Once smokers get wind of the availability of cigarettes at their nearby Family Dollar customer traffic is sure to improve.

To support future growth, Family Dollar in early June began shipping goods from its 10th distribution center in Ashley, Indiana and its expansion westward will be supported by a new DC in St. George, Utah that is supposed to be operation by next summer.

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