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More Trouble at OfficeMax

BY CSA STAFF

Itasca, Ill., OfficeMax, the third-largest office-products retailer, lost CFO Brian Anderson, who resigned after holding the top financial post at the chain for just two months. The company offered no elaboration on his departure, but said former CFO Ted Crumley will return to the company and fill the post on an interim basis during a search for a long-term replacement.

The company also will delay the company’s earnings release for the fourth quarter while it completes an internal investigation of possible accounting irregularities. The company cut its forecast for fiscal 2004 performance about three weeks ago.

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Holiday Sales Flat at Williams-Sonoma

BY CSA STAFF

San Francisco, Williams-Sonoma said same-store sales over the eight-week holiday period were flat compared with a year ago. Total sales for the eight weeks ended Dec. 26 rose 7.3% to $775.9 million, which the retailer said was below its expectations, largely due to a weaker-than-expected response to holiday marketing of its Pottery Barn brand. Retail sales for the holiday period increased 6.9% to $501.1 million from $468.9 million last year.

“While our overall same-store sales results were below our expectations, we were encouraged by the retail sales momentum in the Williams-Sonoma brand in the holiday period,” said Howard Lester, chairman.”

Williams-Sonoma said that a significant year-over-year increase in pre-holiday gift-card sales and a greater-than-expected shift in retail sales into the week after Christmas also drove results below plan.

Looking ahead, Williams-Sonoma said it expects fiscal 2005 revenue to grow by a low double-digit to mid-teen percentage, with earnings up by a mid-teen to high-teen percentage.

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Survey Sheds Light on Holiday Spending, Advertising

BY CSA STAFF

Troy, Mich., Selection is the main factor that determines where consumers shop for apparel, according to a new survey by advertising agency Meridian. Selection was picked as the most important factor by half of the consumers polled.

Other findings of the survey include:

• One quarter of respondents said price is the top reason for shifting holiday spending to other locations from the stores they shopped last year.

• Affluent consumers spent more of their holiday budgets with department stores in 2004 vs. 2003, reversing a pattern of declining spending established over the past few years. Meridian says this reflects more upscale merchandising and advertising strategies on the part of some department store chains.

• Mass retailers and mid-line retailers are twice as successful as department stores in creating store traffic through advertising.

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