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Moms can get tooth wipes at Wal-Mart

BY Dan Berthiaume

Bentonville, Ark. – Busy moms who need tooth wipes, or maybe more well-known baby items, have a new resource in Wal-Mart. In a post on the official Wal-Mart blog, Diana Marhsall, VP of baby for Wal-Mart U.S., says the retailer is expanding the products and services for moms (or anyone else) shopping for baby needs.

In the past two years, Wal-Mart has expanded its selection of baby items, including launching the exclusive Urbini line of baby products. Wal-Mart has also made its online baby registry more accessible via mobile app and has brought suggestions to manufacturers such as including alarms on car seats to alert parents who still have a child in the car when they are leaving it.

Not coincidentally, Target has been relying on baby products as a big component of its current turnaround strategy. Also U.S. birth rates rose in 2014 for the first time since 2007, with prized millennial consumers driving much of the growth.

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Amazon.com produces 2Q profit

BY CSA STAFF

Shares of Amazon.com surged past the $500 mark after the company reported a second quarter profit and revealed more details about a phenomenally successful Prime day promotion that fell in the third quarter.

Sales for the second quarter ended June 30, increased 20% to $23.2 billion and excluding a $1.4 billion unfavorable impact from year-over-year changes in foreign exchange rates throughout the quarter, net sales increased 27%. The big news during the quarter was that Amazon.com was profitable. Net income totaled $92 million, or 19 cents a share, compared with net loss of $126 million, or 27 cents a share in the second quarter the prior year. The company also highlighted the fact that its free cash flow increased to $4.37 billion for the trailing twelve months, compared with $1.04 billion for the trailing twelve months ended June 30, 2014.

The company’s growth was driven by a wide range of factors and innovations, which founder and CEO Jeff Bezos was not shy about touting.

“The teams at Amazon have been working hard for customers,” Bezos said. Then in an extremely long run on sentence he detailed some of the company’s second quarter and more recent accomplishments. “We unveiled Amazon Business, opened Amazon Mexico, launched Prime free same-day, rolled out our ninth Prime Now city, broke our Black Friday record with the first-ever Prime Day, received 11 Emmy nominations for Transparent, debuted six new kids pilots, brought Echo to general availability, introduced the Alexa Skills Kit and Alexa Voice Service, opened FBA Small and Light, continued to double down on our fastest growing geography — India, launched 350 significant AWS features and services so far this year (ahead of last year’s pace), introduced AWS Educate, and entered into agreements for new solar and wind farms — enough to exceed our 2016 goal of 40% renewable energy.”

The Prime membership program is key to the company’s popularity and it continues to expand. Amazon launched Prime free same-day delivery in 14 U.S. metro areas, serving more than 500 cities and towns in the second quarter. The service allows Prime members to choose from more than one million items and order as late as noon to receive their order on the same day. The service is promoted as free, but being a Prime member costs $99.

To bring more customers into the Prime fold, Amazon held its inaugural Prime Day promotion on July 15 after the quarter ended. As part of the promotion, non-Prime members were given access to the service and the result was more new members tried Prime worldwide than any single day in Amazon history, according to the company. In addition, customers purchased more units on Prime Day than Black Friday 2014 and sellers using Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) experienced record-breaking unit sales.

Looking ahead to the third quarter, a period that will include the effects of Prime Day, the company envisions a wide range of sales possibilities. Sales could grow between 13% and 24% to range from $23.3 billion to $25.5 billion. The company’s operating income could range from a $480 million loss to a $70 million profit compared to a prior year operating loss of $544.

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Southeastern Grocers sells 29 stores to K-VA-T

BY CSA STAFF

Regional grocery chain Southeastern Grocers has agreed to sell 29 BI-LO stores to another regional grocery chain: K-VA-T Food Stores.

K-VA-T says it intends to continue to operate all of these stores under the Food City banner and hire the vast majority of their store associates, retaining their years of service.

“We are extremely excited to have this opportunity to expand our operation into the Chattanooga and Northwest Georgia markets. We certainly look forward to welcoming the BI-LO associates to our Food City family and serving the region,” says Steven C. Smith, Food City president and chief executive officer. “Our consumers can rest assured that we plan to complete the conversion process as quickly as possible, with the least interruption to the normal flow of business. It’s our intention to enhance the overall variety and selection and further develop the services and conveniences provided to our shoppers.”

Southeastern Grocers and K-VA-T anticipate that the transfer and handoff dates of the 29 BI-LO stores will begin Aug. 30, with all stores fully transitioned by Oct. 5, subject to the satisfaction of customary closing conditions.

"We are pleased to enter into this transaction with K-VA-T, which we believe is the right decision not only for Southeastern Grocers, but also for our stores and associates in Chattanooga and Northwest Georgia,” said Ian McLeod, president and CEO of Southeastern Grocers. “This was not an easy decision for us, as we have the utmost respect for our associates who serve our customers in these stores so well. In the approach by K-VA-T, we believe we have identified a strong partner to ensure these 29 stores and our associates are positioned for continued success under another reputable regional brand. On behalf of the management team, I want to thank all of our hardworking BI-LO associates for their dedication and support over many years."

K-VA-T Food Stores, Inc. is the corporate banner of a supermarket chain operating in three states under the Food City banner. With 15 units in Southeastern Kentucky, 27 units in Southwest Virginia and 62 units in East Tennessee, K-VA-T is an acronym of its trade area: Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee. The 104-store chain includes 93 Food City locations (with 79 pharmacies and 84 fuel/convenience stores), ten Super Dollar Discount Foods limited assortment stores and one wine & spirits store. They also operate their own 1.2 million square-foot distribution center, located in Abingdon, Va.

Southeastern Grocers, LLC, parent company and home of BI-LO, Harveys and Winn-Dixie grocery stores, is the fifth-largest conventional supermarket chain in the U.S. and the second-largest conventional supermarket in the southeast based on store count. The company employs nearly 72,000 associates who serve customers in approximately 790 grocery stores, 143 liquor stores and 527 in-store pharmacies throughout the eight southeastern states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

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