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New head marketer named at Scotts Miracle-Gro

BY CSA STAFF

MARYSVILLE, Ohio — The Scotts Miracle-Gro announced that Jim Lyski has been named EVP and chief marketing officer, reporting to ScottsMiracle-Gro president Barry Sanders.

"Jim will drive closer alignment between our marketing organization and our consumers by sharpening our focus on insights and analytics and providing increased regional marketing support," said Sanders. "He brings an impressive background to ScottsMiracle-Gro, and I have every confidence in his capability to further position the company for success now and in the future."

Lyski will also be accountable for advancing the company’s "Consumer First" strategy specifically to maximize opportunities for sustainable brand portfolio and market share growth, along with continuing to build stronger relationships with consumers.

Prior to joining ScottsMiracle-Gro, Lyski was chief marketing officer for Nationwide Insurance in Columbus, Ohio, where he was responsible for corporate strategy, marketing, brand management, advertising and communications. He has also held senior level positions in strategy and marketing for CIGNA HealthCare and FedEx Corporation.

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To profitability and beyond at Pier 1 Imports

BY CSA STAFF

After being left for dead four years ago, Pier 1 Imports has recuperated fully to the point where it recently embarked on a new three-year plan to restore growth to the company.

Key elements of the plan call for the acceleration of e-commerce, improvements to existing stores, new store expansion and investments in infrastructure to support the enterprise and improve efficiency.

“We have numerous opportunities to profitably increase the reach of the Pier 1 Imports brand,” said president and CEO Alex Smith. “With an outstanding management team, the strength of our brand and our rigorous capital discipline, we are focused on developing our company into a best-in-class multi-channel retailer.”

That means getting serious about online, an area where the company has been a laggard. It was only last fall that Pier 1 launched in-store merchandise availability on its site and now the next phase calls for the launch this spring of a site-to-store type service called Pier 1.2Go that allows for orders place online to be picked up in stores. That will be followed in mid-2012 by the Pier 1.2You service, which allows customers to have merchandise shipped to their home.

With regard to stores, the emphasis will be on improvement to existing units as opposed to dramatic square-footage expansion. The company plans to pursue a range of store improvement initiatives over the course of the next three years that will affect 90% of its 1,046 stores. Meanwhile, over the course of the next five years, the company expects it store base will increase to 1,100 units as it opens approximately 80 new stores and closes 30 others.

The unveiling of the three-year plan follows the release of fourth-quarter and full-year results that saw the company return to annual operating profitability for the first time in six years.

CEO Smith characterized the results as exceptional, with fourth quarter comps up 8.9% and up 10.9% for the full fiscal year ended Feb. 26. Total sales increased 7.7% during the fourth quarter to $426.6 million and full-year sales increased 8.2% to nearly $1.4 billion. The top line growth translated into profits as well with fourth quarter net income up 65% to $57 million and earnings per share up 60% to 48 cents. Net income for the full year was $100 million compared to net income the prior year of $86.8 million.

The momentum has continued into 2011.

“Our new year is off to a good start and our spring and Easter assortments are resonating with our customers. Although the Easter holiday falls into April this year, March comp store sales increased 11.3% on top of last year’s March comp store sales increase of 19.4%,” Smith said.

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With March behind, retailers look to Easter in April

BY CSA STAFF

WASHINGTON — While the calendar shift of Easter may have taken a toll on retailers’ march performance, April sales should see a boost, as the National Retail Federationnoted that consumers intend to spend more this year than in 2010.

NRF’s "2011 Consumer Intentions and Actions" survey, conducted by BIGresearch from March 1 to 8, noted that the average consumer is expected to spend $131.04 for the holiday — up from last year’s $118.60. Among all of the retail categories, food and candy will account for most of a consumer’s budget, bringing in $2.1 billion and $4.5 billion, respectively. The average person also will spend slightly more on each than they did last year — $18.55 on candy, compared with $17.29 last year, and $40.05 on food, up from $37.45 last year.

Though the numbers are not quite above pre-recession levels, it still is a good sign of things to come, NRF noted, adding that the biggest spenders would be adults ages 25 to 34 years, as well as young adults (ages 18 to 24 years).

“Due to such a late holiday, Easter promotions will last all spring long,” said NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay. “Though lingering concerns over food and energy prices may keep shoppers from splurging, retailers are expecting consumers to stock up on apparel, home decor and, of course, food and candy, a good sign leading into the much busier and important months to come.”

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