FINANCE

Report: Sears to sell off Lands’ End

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Hoffman Estates, Ill. — Multiple reports on Thursday said that Sears Holdings Corp. is considering a sale of its Lands’ End mail-order catalog business, as part of its move to raise up to $2 billion.

The New York Post reported that Sears is in talks with several private-equity firms about the potential sale.

Sears chief Eddie Lampert is said to be likely to hire Goldman Sachs to find a buyer for Lands’ End.

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OPERATIONS

H&M launching new retail chain in 2013

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Stockholm, Sweden — Swedish fashion retailer Hennes & Mauritz AB confirmed Thursday that it will open a new chain in 2013 that will build on the 2007 launch of its upscale Collection of Style (COS). No name for the new concept has been revealed yet.

"Like COS, which today is very successful with good profitability, the new chain of stores will be independent and complement the other offerings from the group," H&M CEO Karl-Johan Persson said. "We have great faith in this new brand and we see considerable potential for further initiatives."

Meanwhile, the company opened its first namebrand store in Sofia, Bulgaria, earlier in March, and plans to have opened other stores in Bulgaria, Latvia, Malaysia, Mexico and — through a franchise — Thailand by the end of 2012.

H&M also reported Thursday that net profit for the quarter rose to $411 million, from $393 million in the same period a year earlier.

Stockholm-based H&M said net sales rose to $4.17 billion, from $3.68 billion a year ago. Profit results, which H&M blamed on higher cotton prices, missed analysts’ expectations.

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OPERATIONS

Best Buy to close 50 big-boxes, expand mobile-only format

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Minneapolis — In a move to tighten its footprint and reduce costs, Best Buy Co. said Thursday it will close 50 of its signature big-box stores and open 100 of its small mobile locations in the United States in fiscal 2013. The shift will help cut $250 million in costs by 2013 and $800 million by 2015, said the electronics retailer.

The announcement coincided with Best Buy’s Thursday report that it posted a fourth quarter loss of $1.7 billion, compared with a profit of $651 million in the year-ago period. The results included $2.6 billion in charges related mainly to its acquisition of Carphone’s interest in Best Buy Mobile, and adjusted results met Wall Street expectations.

Revenue edged up 3% in the quarter to $16.08 billion, missing the $17.17 billion in revenue that analysts expected. Same-store sales dipped 2.4%.

For the full year, Best Buy swung to a $1.23 billion loss, from a $1.28 billion profit in 2010. Revenue for the year rose 2% to $50.71 billion and same-store sales fell 1.7%.

Best Buy said it will test a new smaller format it is calling Connected Stores in San Antonio, and in St. Paul, Minn. The renovation will reduce square feet in both stores by 20% and will turn the inventory focus to cell phones and other services such as showing customers how to connect electronics throughout the home.

Continued rollout of the mobile-only stores calls for 600 to 800 by 2016, up from 305 currently.

Additional cost-cutting measures include cutting 400 positions.

“We intend to invest some of these cost savings into offering new and improved customer experiences and competitive prices — which will help drive revenue,” CEO Brian Dunn said in a Thursday statement. “And, over time, we expect some of the savings will fall to the bottom line.”

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