OPERATIONS

SAS, Winn-Dixie enter partnership

BY CSA STAFF

New York City — SAS on Monday announced a 5-year agreement with Winn-Dixie Stores around the company’s marketing and merchandising analytics offering.

“We chose SAS because of their strong commitment to retail and analytical excellence,” stated Maura Hart, Winn-Dixie’s CIO. “This partnership will enhance our customers’ shopping experience with the implementation of SAS’ technology and resources to provide improvements in pricing, assortment and category management.”

“Many grocers have mountains of data, but they lack the time and resources to gain meaningful intelligence from it,” noted Diana McHenry, global retail product marketing, SAS. “SAS is building a bridge so grocers can reap the rewards of advanced analytics just like other segments of the retail industry. … This will help grocers predict buying behavior and identify customers who are at risk of rolling their shopping cart to the competition.”

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FINANCE

Rain dampens discounter’s holiday performance

BY CSA STAFF

City of Commerce, Calif. — Third-quarter sales growth was hard to come by at 99 Cents Only as the extreme value retailer’s heavy concentration of stores in Southern California were negatively affected by unseasonably strong rains that hit the region prior to Christmas.

Total company sales for the period ended Dec. 25 increased 1.7% to $365 million while same store sales declined 0.7%. Company CEO Eric Schiffer said the comp decline in same-store sales was due to a reduction in the average number of transactions throughout the quarter that was exacerbated by heavy rains in the company’s major Southern California markets the final week before Christmas and an early freeze and adverse weather conditions led to reduced availability of product from produce suppliers.

Aside from the weak sales performance, Schiffer indicated the company made progress on several operational initiatives.

“We are pleased with our holiday assortment as well as the sales gains in our re-merchandised party section. Although we are still in the early stages of implementation of our new store systems, which will continue for the next two years, we are satisfied with our progress to date, and our system support and reliability showed material improvement,” Schiffer said. “Of paramount importance is our ability to manage our costs against the fluctuations in our same-store sales, as demonstrated by our management team in the third quarter.

The company is scheduled to report third-quarter earnings on Feb. 2 and indicated it expects earnings per share to be between 37 cents and 38 cents, compared with 35 cents the prior year. At the end of the third quarter, 99 Cents Only operated 280 stores, consisting of 208 stores in California, 34 in Texas, 26 in Arizona and 12 in Nevada.

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News

Kroger looks to speed up self-checkout lines

BY CSA STAFF

NEW YORK — Fujitsu on Monday unveiled its latest checkout technology at the National Retail Federation trade show.

According to the company, the new technology boasts reduced time on lines and a customer-friendly checkout experience. Fujitsu also said that supermarket giant Kroger currently is evaluating the new technology in a limited number of its stores to boost the retailer’s Advanced Checkout areas.

Kroger CIO Chris Hjelm said that the retailer noted a steady increased use of its Advantage Checkout lanes and that the response from customers and associates exceeded expectations.

"Customers are … choosing the Advantage Checkout because of its many enhancements to the shopping experience. These enhancements include: increased scanning and bagging speed and accuracy, minimizing of queuing for the payment process and the opportunity for improved associate engagement in both full service and self-checkout modes," Hjelm said. "We believe this system has the potential to revolutionize the front-end experience in our retail stores, providing a superior checkout experience for our customers and associates."

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