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Report: Walmart slashing jobs in U.S. IT division

BY By Deena M. Amato-McCoy

The retail giant is reorganizing its U.S. technology division — a move that will impact about 10% of its workforce.

Sources familiar with the situation said that Walmart will eliminate 300 jobs across its information systems division (ISD). The layoffs at ISD in the chain's Bentonville headquarters began this week and are expected to continue through the month, according to Talk Business & Politics.

According to the report, associates received an email directing them to report to a training room on Tuesday, April 4, where they were told their jobs were being eliminated due to the company’s restructuring efforts. The layoffs appear to be across-the-board and include officers.

Impacted employees will remain on the payroll for 60 days and may apply for other jobs with the retailer. After the 60 days, a severance package will be provided to those who have not found other jobs, the report indicated.

Walmart would not comment specifically on the report, however the retailer confirmed it will continue to reorganize operations in effort to manage costs and operate efficiently.

“As we said in January, to fuel our growth and our investments we have to manage our costs and our capital decisions with discipline," Randy Hargrove, Walmart spokesman told Chain Store Age.

“This means we will continue to find ways to operate more efficiently and effectively, true to our cost-conscious heritage. In order to achieve this, from time to time you’ll see the company eliminate positions in an effort to stay lean and fast,” he said. “In some areas, we’ll invest in new positions but in other cases, we’ll operate more efficiently and work to change our processes and become more digital to change the work itself.”

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Bed Bath & Beyond’s Q4 finishes strong

BY By Deena M. Amato-McCoy

After three quarters of missing analyst estimates, Bed Bath & Beyond’s fourth quarter ended on a high note, and beat expectations.

For the quarter ended February 25, 2017, the specialty retailer reported net sales of approximately $3.5 billion, an increase of about 3.4% from approximately $3.4 billion reported in the fiscal 2015 fourth quarter. The chain’s quarterly earnings of $1.84 per share declined by a marginal 0.5% year over year, but still beat analyst estimates of $1.77.

Consolidated comparable sales in the fiscal 2016 fourth quarter increased by approximately 0.4%, compared with a 1.7% lift in last year's fiscal fourth quarter. Comparable sales from customer-facing digital channels grew in excess of 20%, while comparable sales from stores declined in the low single-digit percentage range during the fiscal 2016 fourth quarter.

During the fourth quarter, Bed Bath & Beyond repurchased approximately $171 million of its common stock, representing approximately 4.1 million shares, under its existing $2.5 billion share repurchase program. As of February 25, 2017, the program had a remaining balance of approximately $1.7 billion, and is expected to be completed sometime in fiscal 2020, the chain reported.

For 2016, the retailer reported net sales of approximately $12.2 billion, an increase of about 0.9% from $12.1 billion in fiscal 2015.

Comparable sales for the fiscal full year decreased by approximately 0.6% for the year compared with an increase of about 1.0% in fiscal 2015. Comparable sales from customer-facing digital channels grew in excess of 20% while comparable sales from stores declined in the low single-digit percentage range for the fiscal full year.

"During fiscal 2016, we made significant investments to evolve our company and advance our mission to be trusted by our customers as the expert for the home and 'heart-related' life events by continuing to build and deliver a strong foundation of differentiated products, services and solutions for customers, while driving operational excellence,” said Steven Temares, CEO and member of the Board of Directors of Bed Bath & Beyond.

As a reflection of the long-term health of the business, and commitment to creating shareholder value, the company's Board of Directors declared an increase in the quarterly dividend to $.15 per share. The increased quarterly dividend is payable on July 18, 2017 to shareholders of record at the close of business on June 16, 2017.

Despite ending the fourth quarter and year on a high note, Bed Bath & Beyond is modeling a decline in net earnings per diluted share in the percentage range of low-single digits to 10% for fiscal 2017.

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Zumiez sees net sales, comps climb in March

BY By Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Zumiez’snet and same-store sales were on the rise in March.

The teen retailer’s total net sales for the five-week period ended April 1, 2017, increased 4.3% to $71.7 million, compared to $68.8 million for the five-week period ended April 2, 2016.

Meanwhile, same-store sales increased 1.1% for the period, compared to a 7.8% decline for the five weeks ended Apr 2, 2016.

Analysts continue to monitor the chain’s performance, and expect Zumiez’s focus on omnichannel growth, authentic lifestyle positioning and commitment to customer service position bode well, according to Zacks.

Despite these gains, the chain projects a loss of between 17 and 21 cents per share for the first quarter, a factor that has prompted analysts surveyed by Zacks to lower earnings estimates for fiscal 2017 by 11.3% to $1.02 per share.

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