FINANCE

Rite Aid narrows loss in Q2

BY Staff Writer

Camp Hill, Pa. — Rite Aid Corp. reported Thursday that it narrowed its loss in the quarter ended Aug. 27 to $94.7 million, from $199.3 million in the year earlier period.

Revenue rose 1.8% in the quarter to $6.3 billion, and same-store sales – as previously reported – increased 2.2%.

The drugstore retailer has modified its outlook, now expecting smaller losses for fiscal 2012 than originally anticipated.

“We are pleased with the continued improvement in our top-line results, highlighted by three consecutive quarters of same-store sales growth,” said John Standley, Rite Aid president and CEO.

Rite Aid launched the rollout of its new wellness store format in the second quarter, with 40 wellness stores completed as of the end of the second quarter. Also during the quarter, the company relocated five stores, remodeled 35 stores and closed seven.

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OPERATIONS

NRF encourages Visa reform to up foreigner spending at U.S. stores

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Washington, D.C. — The National Retail Federation said Thursday it welcomed legislation that would require the State Department to speed up the visa application process for citizens from three key countries, saying the move would make it easier for tourists and business travelers to spend money in U.S. stores.

“U.S. retailers and other businesses are missing out on billions of dollars in sales every year because foreigners who want to come here and spend money in our stores are being told to stand in line at our embassies overseas,” NRF senior VP government relations David French said. “We are asking that the State Department be required to provide adequate personnel, technology and other resources so these applications can be processed in a timely manner. We want to see these yuan, rupees and reals put to work creating jobs and boosting the economy in the United States, not spent elsewhere because it’s too hard to get a U.S. visa. Congress needs to move as quickly as possible to see this legislation signed into law.”

The Senate Appropriations Committee is meeting later on Thursday to consider a State Department funding bill that would require the department to hire sufficient staff in China, Brazil and India in order to allow visa applications to be processed in no more than 30 days. It can currently take as long as 120 days in China and 145 days in Brazil for applicants to receive an interview for a visa.

The bill also requires the State Department to conduct a cost-benefit analysis of waiving the visa interview requirement for people who are renewing a visa that has expired within the past two years. It would also give the State Department discretion to establish a pilot program to use videoconferencing rather than requiring that the interviews take place in person, and the department would be required to submit a report to Congress on its efforts to speed up the process.

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News

Retailer on the ‘Express’ track in Canada

BY CSA STAFF

NEW YORK — Express is taking its brand of specialty retail apparel north of the border this September with the opening of its first location in Canada at Fairview Mall in Toronto.

The company said it plans to open a total six stores in Canada by the end of 2011, and an additional 50 stores across the country over the next five years. In addition to Fairview Mall, Express will also open at Lime Ridge Mall in September. In November, Express will have three locations opening in Calgary at Southcentre, Chinook Centre and Market Mall as well as an additional store in Toronto at Square One.

According to a company press release, the 10,000 sq. ft. store will feature a similar product assortment as Express’ U.S. stores.

"Canada is the perfect country for Express’ first foray into wholly-owned international bricks and mortar locations thanks to its cosmopolitan cities filled with young, fashionable men and women," said Michael Weiss, president and CEO of Express. "We sincerely appreciate the warm welcome we have already received from the Canadian people and look forward to expanding our reach as a fashion authority and to the growth potential of the brand in this new market."

With the opening of its newest location in Canada, Express now operates more than 600 stores across the United States, Puerto Rico and Canada.

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