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Natural Grocers net income climbs; plans six new stores

BY Dan Berthiaume

Lakewood, Colo. – Net income climbed 24.3% at Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage Inc. in the second quarter of fiscal 2014, rising to $4 million from $3.21 million in the same quarter the prior fiscal year. For the remainder of the current fiscal year, Natural Grocers plans to open six new stores and remodel one.

Natural Grocers attributed net income growth to lower store salary and television advertising expenses. Net sales increased 22.4% from the same period in fiscal year 2013 to $130.3 million from $106.5 million due to a $16.6 million increase in sales from new stores and a 6.9%, increase in same-store sales.

Looking ahead, Vitamin Grocers plans to sell only pasture-raised, non-confinement dairy products by April 2015.

"Our sales increases and disciplined approach toward operating expenses have resulted in strong financial results this quarter which allowed us to continue our investments into growth," said Kemper Isely, co-president.

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Ingles Markets has solid Q2

BY Dan Berthiaume

Asheville, N.C. – Ingles Markets reported a large increase in net income and smaller increase in net sales during the second quarter of fiscal 2014 as compared to the same period in the previous fiscal year. Net income soared 29.2% to $105 million from $8.1 million, while net sales grew 2.9% to $947.8 million from $920.7 million.

Lower interest expense helped boost net income. Ingles said growth in sales was negatively affected by the Easter holiday, which benefited sales in the second quarter of the previous fiscal year but will not occur until the third quarter the current fiscal year. Same-store sales increased 2.5%.

“We are pleased with our sales and net income growth this quarter,” said Robert P. Ingle, CEO. “Our stores continue to focus on sales growth and that certainly made a difference this quarter.”

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Retail veteran Andrea Weiss, digital expert Bill Mirabito form consulting firm

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Andrea Weiss, a 30-year retail veteran, and Bill Mirabito, a digital innovator, have teamed up to form The O Alliance, a consulting firm designed to help retailers better target today’s, multichannel digitally-savvy shoppers.

“There is clearly a new paradigm, yet many retailers are still operating with outdated business models that don’t reflect the new reality, “ said Weiss, who presently serves as president of Retail Consulting and also sits on several corporate boards, including Chico’s FAS and Pep Boys. “This is evident in the focus on channel. We focus on technology-enabled consumers and helping retailers better serve them.”

Weiss has a lengthy retail resume that includes serving as president of retail at Guess (1996 to 1998), executive VP, chief stores office, The Limited and Intimate Brands (1998 to 2001) and as president of Delia’s (2001 to 2002). Since 2002, she has been an advisor to European retailer Grupo Cortifiel.

The O Alliance will take a holistic approach, Weiss explained, that is designed to create a seamless shopping experience by refocusing a retailer’s organizational practices around digitally-savvy consumers, as opposed to the channel.

“Retailers need to align their operations with technology to reach this increasingly sophisticated consumer — from marketing and social media, to in-store digital tools, to the overall company culture. Point-to-point solutions are simply not enough,” said co-founder Bill Mirabito, CEO of consulting practice B2C Partners. He previously was a senior retail analyst at Forrester Research.

The firm uses a consulting model that leverages a network of partners in such key areas as operations, change management, digital tools, store design, marketing and e-commerce.

In addition to B2C, the O Alliance partners include brand strategy and design firm JGA; visual content agency Splashlight; training platform developer Multimedia Plus; inventory and change management consultancy iVibe Global; and Olson-Ng Retail Consulting Group, which specializes in financial improvements, merchandise planning, operational and supply chain efficiencies.

Sam Decker, CEO and co-founder of social engagement platform MassRelevance, and Jeffrey Rayport, founder and chairman of global strategy firm Marketspace have joined the O Alliance as advisors.

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