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Report: Sycamore in early discussion to acquire Fred’s

BY Staff Writer

New York — Sycamore Partners is in early discussion with Fred’s about a potential takeover, Reuters reported.

In January, Fred’s disclosed it had hired Bank of America Corp. and Peter J. Solomon Co to explore strategic alternatives after disappointing holiday sales.

According to the report, at least one other party in also in talks with Fred’s.

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Strong spring painting season propel Sherwin-Williams

BY CSA STAFF

A strong spring painting season drove a near 10% increase in same store sales at Sherwin-Williams and fueled record sales and profits for the operator of 4,100 stores.

The company’s total sales increased 12.1% to slightly more than $3 billion due primarily to higher sales in the company paint stores group. Acquisitions were said to have increased net sales by 4.6%. Profits grew at an even faster pace, with earnings per share increasing 19.5% to $2.94 from $2.46.

The increases in second quarter profits was due primarily to improved operating results in the company’s paint stores and consumer business units. Sales in the paint store group increased 17.2% to nearly $1.9 billion due to architectural paint sales volume growth across all end market segments and acquisitions, according to the company. Acquisitions increased net sales 6.5% in the quarter.

Sales in the company’s consumer group, which includes brands such as Krylon, Minwax and Thompson’s Water Seal, increased 10.1% to $433 million in the quarter due to higher sales to retail customers and acquisitions which accounted for about half of the growth.

"We are pleased with the continued strong positive sales and earnings per share momentum. Our paint stores group continues to lead with sales volume and operating results,” said Christopher Connor, chairman and CEO of Sherwin-Williams. "We are continuing to invest in our business. In the first six months, (the) paint stores group opened 33 net new stores. For the year, we expect our paint stores group to open 80 to 90 new stores.”

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UserTesting releases free Peek video service

BY Dan Berthiaume

Mountain View, Calif. – Customer experience testing provider UserTesting is launching its free service Peek out of beta. Peek allows anyone to receive free five-minute videos of real people using their website, mobile site, or mobile app.

In roughly four months in beta, Peek achieved 40,000-plus user tests delivered, almost two years’ worth of videos watched, 202,000-plus video views, and more than 8,000 social postings and shares. Retailers including Staples and Wal-Mart have used Peek.

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