News

Safety is automatic for Midwest grocer

BY Dan Berthiaume

Wisconsin-based, 21-store grocery retailer Festival Foods takes food safety so seriously that it no longer thinks about it.

That’s because Festival Foods has chosen the food safety platform from ReposiTrak to automatically manage regulatory and business documentation compliance within its supply chain.

“Our guests trust us to provide food that is safe for their family,” said Mark Skogen, president and CEO of Festival Foods. “ReposiTrak’s automated system not only helps us ensure that we are in compliance with state and federal guidelines, it makes doing the right thing for our guests easy.”

Powered by parent company Park City Group’s technology, the ReposiTrak platform consists of two systems. Compliance Management receives, stores and shares documentation, and also manages compliance through dashboards and alerts for missing or expired documents. Track & Trace identifies product ingredients and their supply chain path in the event of a product recall, and can identify backward chaining sources and forward chaining recipients of products in near real time.

High-profile product recalls in recent years have resulted in brand damage, lawsuits, and even prison terms for executives of companies involved. While the source brands typically face more regulatory and legal ramifications, it is still wise for retailers of produce and other food items to invest in technologies that use automation to minimize the likelihood or impact of such events.

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FINANCE

Acquisition weighs on Ascena comps

BY Gina Acosta

Strong sales at Maurices and Lane Bryant weren’t enough to lift Ascena in the first quarter, as the company reported a decrease in comps.

For the period ended Oct. 24, the company reported a net loss of 10 cents per diluted share compared to net income of 32 cents per diluted share in the same period of fiscal 2015. The company blamed the decrease on transaction costs related to the acquisition of Ann Inc., which closed during the first quarter fof fiscal 2016. Comps dropped 3% in the first quarter.

“On the operating front, we were pleased with first quarter earnings, which exceeded our expectations,” said David Jaffe, president and CEO. “We saw strong sales performance at maurices and Lane Bryant, and significant gross margin rate recovery at Justice, Ann Taylor and Loft. We continue to execute well against controllable factors, and believe we have compelling product and the appropriate level and mix of inventory to maximize our holiday opportunity.

“Specific to the Black Friday/Cyber Monday period, we saw mixed performance across our portfolio. Importantly, we were very pleased with performance at Justice, which significantly exceeded our expectations during this critical peak period, delivering strong positive comp performance despite a reduced level of promotional activity."

Net sales at Ascena increased 40% to $1.672 billion, compared to $1.194 billion for the first quarter of last year.

Jaffe concluded: "As we discussed in detail at our investor day last month, the initial phase of our integration of Ann Inc. is progressing well, along with each of the synergy work-streams. We are increasingly confident that the Justice turnaround is gaining traction, and we're excited about the continuing improvement of Lane Bryant fundamentals, along with the sustained strength of Maurices performance. While Dressbarn had another challenging quarter, we continue to work to build the foundation for future growth."

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ShopperTrak: In-store sales decline need to be viewed in context

BY Marianne Wilson

In-store sales declines over Black Friday weekend had many analysts buzzing about the future of brick and mortar. But an expert in store traffic cautioned that the declines should be taken with a grain of salt.

“It’s important to view the decrease in context,” said Bill Martin, founder, ShopperTrak.

Martin noted that where are several contributing factors, including fewer available store hours on Thanksgiving Day and a later Hanukah that is anticipated to push sales into December.

“Most importantly, the success of the holiday season doesn’t hinge on the performance of a single day,” he added.
Thanksgiving Day 2015 grossed an estimated $1.76 billion in sales, which is a 12.5% decrease versus 2014; Black Friday 2015 garnered an estimated $10.21 billion in sales, which is an estimated 11.9% decrease versus 2014.

“Seven out of the top ten sales days still remain, and December is anticipated to be strong,” added Kevin Kearns, ShopperTrak’s chief revenue officer. “With that in mind, we still maintain our 2.4% increase in sales for brick-and-mortar retail this holiday season.”

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