FINANCE

Sears Submits Draft of Deal to Buy Restoration Hardware

BY CSA STAFF

San Francisco Sears Holdings Corp. reported Friday that it has submitted a draft acquisition agreement to the furniture retailer Restoration Hardware Inc. that offers to pay its stockholders $6.75 per share in cash through a tender offer.

The draft agreement, which was submitted Wednesday, was disclosed in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing on Friday.

After receiving the draft agreement, Restoration Hardware’s special committee declared Sears Holdings an “excluded party” under its prior acquisition deal with Catterton Partners, which allows negotiations to move forward. The private-equity firm offered Restoration Hardware $6.70 per share on Nov. 8.

Sears, which already owns 13.7 percent of Restoration, had made a tentative offer of $6.75 per share for Restoration Hardware on Nov. 23.

Last week, Restoration Hardware and Sears agreed to a confidentiality pact that gives Sears access to nonpublic information about the retailer. According to Friday’s filing, Sears plans to evaluate the company and the desirability of the acquisition under the terms of the confidentiality deal.

In other news, Sears chairman Edward Lampert has increased his stake in AutoNation to 31.9%, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing Thursday.

Lampert’s hedge fund, ESL Investments, and related parties now hold about 58.8 million shares of the Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based auto retailer.

Lampert stepped down from AutoNation’s board in May to devote more time to his duties at ESL and Sears.

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Safeway predicts ’08 growth

BY CSA STAFF

PLEASANTON, Calif. Safeway today announced its earnings outlook for the year 2008.

Safeway said that it expects earnings per share for 2008 to be in the range of $2.25 to $2.35. The company said it anticipates that identical-store sales growth (excluding fuel) will be in the range of 3% to 3.2%. According to Safeway, the identical sales growth will be strongly affected by contributions from Lifestyle stores and product innovation.

Innovation has been, and will continue to be, the key to our success, said Steve Burd, chairman, president and ceo. “We have developed highly successful programs to reduce costs, improve service, enhance the quality of products and the shopping environment, and have established new growth vehicles. We believe this will ensure our long-term growth.”

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Meijer looks to enhance supply chain

BY CSA STAFF

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. As part of Meijer’s new requirement for suppliers to generate their own replenishment orders as part of its scan based trading (SBT) program, the company has partnered with Prescient Applied Intelligence, a provider of supply chain and advanced commerce solutions, to test a store level replenishment (SLR) pilot program with one of its major suppliers.

“The SLR pilot program includes about a dozen stores,” said Tim Cronk, supply chain planner at Meijer. “We are using the pilot phase to set benchmarks and expectations for the 150+ store rollout, currently planned for early 2008.”

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