OPERATIONS

Report: Trader Joe’s ending part-timers’ health benefits

BY Dan Berthiaume

Monrovia, Calif. – Trader Joe’s will reportedly stop offering health benefits to part-time employees next year.

According to Bloomberg, employees who work less than 30 hours per week will no longer be eligible for corporate health benefits as of Jan. 1, 2014. That date is when the U.S, Affordable Care Act mandates employers start offering all full-time workers affordable coverage.

Part-time employees will receive a $500 stipend to assist them in purchasing health insurance on their own. A statement from Trader Joe’s indicates the company thinks most affected workers will be able to obtain their own insurance at little or no extra cost due to the stipend and federal tax credits that will become available next year.

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FINANCE

Same-store, e-commerce sales help HBC swing to profit

BY Dan Berthiaume

Toronto – Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) reported net earnings of $3.9 million in the second quarter of fiscal 2013, compared to a net loss of $2 million in the second quarter of the previous fiscal year.

In addition, HBC reported consolidated sales of $947.7 million, up 3.9% from $911.9 million. The retailer credited consolidated same-store sales growth of 3.5% and e-commerce sales growth of 56.1% to $37.3 million as helping to drive its healthy overall performance.

HBC also cited strong performance of ladies’ and men’s apparel, ladies’ shoes, handbags and accessories. Same-store sales at HBC’s Lord & Taylor brand dropped 1.2%, but 6.2% same-store sales growth at the Hudson’s Bay brand helped offset this result. Sales growth was particularly strong at recently renovated locations, including the company’s Vancouver flagship store.

“Hudson’s Bay continues to demonstrate industry-leading sales growth,” stated Richard Baker, HBC’s CEO. “This performance has been driven by a continued focus on our stated strategic initiatives. We are seeing strong performance from stores and departments that have recently received capital investments. We are also pleased by the continued growth of our e-commerce sales, which accelerated in the second quarter and are up approximately 45% year-to-date following our re-launch of both banner websites. Our online business was a key factor in our results, and reflects our increased investment in this component of our business.”

On July 29, 2013, HBC and Saks announced that they had entered into a merger agreement whereby HBC will acquire Saks in an all-cash transaction valued at approximately $2.9 billion, including debt. The combined company will operate 321 stores, including 179 full-line department stores, 73 outlet stores and 69 home stores throughout the U.S. and Canada, along with three e-commerce sites. HBC expects to achieve $100 million of annual synergies within three years.

The transaction has been approved by each company’s board of directors and is expected to close before the end of the calendar year, subject to approval by Saks shareholders and other customary closing conditions.

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FINANCE

Report: California sues Whole Foods for pesticide sales

BY Dan Berthiaume

Austin, Texas – The California Department of Pesticide Regulation is reportedly suing Whole Foods Market, Inc. for selling four pesticide products that allegedly fail to comply with state regulations.

An Associated Press report says the suit, filed Monday, Sept. 9 in Sacramento Superior Court, requests a court order to force Whole Foods to explain why it is selling the pesticides in question. If the court determines the pesticides are banned in California, the state could potentially fine the retailer.

The pesticide products listed in the suit are Natural Pines Pellet Cat Litter; Purely Botanical Cat Flea Spray; Purely Botanical Dog Flea Spray and Enviroman Bugs R Done Bugspray. Whole Foods declined to comment in the article.

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