FINANCE

Sears to close six stores in Illinois, months after getting tax credit

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Hoffman Estates, Ill. — Two months after Sears Holdings Corp. received a $150 million Illinois tax credit for cementing its plans to keep its home base in the state, it announced Monday that it would close six stores in Illinois.

The retailer had already announced in December – two weeks after the tax credit – that it would close 100 to 120 stores, but no Illinois stores were on the initial list.

Sears laid off 100 headquarters employees earlier in February, but said the terminations did not violate the terms of the tax credit, which require that the retailer keep at least 4,250 jobs in state.

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FINANCE

Lowe’s Q4 profit up 13%, to open 10 stores in 2012

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Mooresville, N.C. — Lowe’s Cos. reported Monday that profit for the quarter ended Feb. 3 rose 13% to $322 million, compared with $285 million a year earlier. Results topped Wall Street expectations and demonstrated an upward consumer swing in home-improvement projects.

Quarterly sales increased 11% to $11.6 billion from $10.5 billion, beating analysts’ expectations of $11.35 billion in revenue. Same-store sales rose 3.4%.

“In 2012, we will capitalize on refinements we have made to our operating strategies, as well as our efforts to improve the customer experience,” said Robert A. Niblock, Lowe’s chairman, president and CEO.

For the full year, the company said profit dipped 8.5% to $1.8 billion, sales edged up 2.9% to $50.2 billion, and same-store sales were flat.

Lowe’s said it expects to open approximately 10 stores in fiscal year 2012.

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Publix tops in customer service

BY CSA STAFF

WABAN, Mass. — Publix earned top marks for customer service in a new survey by Temkin Group. The firm rated the customer experience of 206 large companies across 18 industries.

In the grocery industry, Publix earned the top spot and is the second overall company across all 206 companies in the study. Aldi, H.E.B., and Winn-Dixie also scored very well. These four grocery chains received "excellent" customer experience ratings, a level that was only earned by eight companies across all 18 industries, Temkin Group reported.

The overall grocery industry earned the top spot out of 18 industries, slightly higher than fast food chains and retailers but well ahead of other industries. The majority of the grocery chains earned "good" ratings. Piggly Wiggly, which is the lowest scoring grocery chain, earned an "OK" rating.

"Grocery chains are doing a good job of meeting their customers’ needs," states Bruce Temkin, author of the report and Managing Partner of Temkin Group.

  • The Temkin Experience Ratings evaluates three dimensions of customer experience:

  • Accessible: How easy is it for consumers to do what they are trying to do?

  • Emotional: How do consumers feel about their interactions with companies?

  • Functional: Does the company meet consumers’ needs?

Clickhere to access the full report.

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