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Smart & Final swings to Q4 profit; to accelerate store expansion

BY CSA STAFF

Commerce Calif. — Value-oriented food retailer Smart & Final Stores Inc. plans to accelerate its expansion after posting double-digit sales growth in the fourth quarter.

The retailer reported net earnings of $9.27 million for the fourth quarter ended Dec. 28, compared to a net loss of $6.99 million in the prior-year quarter.

Net sales grew 13% to $839.34 million from $742.80 million in the same quarter last year, and topped five Wall Street analysts' consensus estimate of $820.5 million. Same store sales rose 7.8%.

"Performance across both the Smart & Final and Cash & Carry store banners was strong, driven by our ongoing merchandising and marketing efforts and consistent store level execution. Smart & Final Extra! continues to be the key to our new store growth," said Dave Hirz, president and CEO, Smart & Final, which operates 254 stores under the "Smart & Final", "Smart & Final Extra!" and "Cash & Carry Smart Foodservice" banners in California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Nevada, and Idaho, and an additional 14 stores in northern Mexico operated through a joint venture.

The company expects to open four new Smart & Final Extra! Stores in the first quarter. It expects to open a total of 20 new Smart & Final Extra! stores, complete nine conversions of legacy stores to the Extra! format, including three store relocations, and open three Cash & Carry stores, including one store relocation in fiscal 2015.

"Looking ahead, in 2015 we plan to continue our accelerated pace of new store openings and believe that our strong performance in comparable store sales, competitive positioning, and real estate development pipeline provide the foundation for strong operating and financial performance," Hirz added.

For the full fiscal year of 2014, the company reported that net sales increased 10.1% to $3,534.2 million, same store sales grew 6.3%, and net income was $33.1 million.

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Study: App security remains risky

BY Dan Berthiaume

Armonk, N.Y. – Mobile app use continues growing rapidly, but businesses are not keeping pace with security. According to new research from IBM and Ponemon Institute, nearly 40% of more than 400 large companies studied, including many in the Fortune 500, aren’t taking the right precautions to secure the mobile apps they build for customers.

The study also found organizations are poorly protecting their corporate and bring your own device (BYOD) mobile devices against cyber-attacks – opening the door for hackers to easily access user, corporate and customer data.

The average company tests less than half of the mobile apps they build. Also, 33% of companies never test their apps – creating a plethora of entry points to tap into business data via unsecured devices. Fifty percent of these organizations were found to devote zero budget whatsoever towards mobile security.

Among the organizations, each spent an average of $34 million annually on mobile app development. Of this tremendous budget, however, only an average of $2 million – or 5.5% – is currently being allocated to ensuring that mobile apps are secure against cyberattacks before they are made available to users.

In addition, 65% of organizations state the security of their apps is often put at risk because of customer demand or need, and 77% cite “rush to release” pressures as a primary reason why mobile apps contain vulnerable code. Of the companies that actually do scan for vulnerabilities before deploying apps to the market, only 15% of them test their apps as frequently as needed to be effective.

Furthermore, although most employees are “heavy users of apps,” more than half (55%) state their organization does not have a policy which defines the acceptable use of mobile apps in the workplace, and 67% of companies allow employees to download non-vetted apps to their work devices. Additionally, 55% of organizations say employees are permitted to use and download business apps on their personal devices (BYOD).

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Survey: RFID embraced for inventory tracking

BY Dan Berthiaume

Lawrenceville, N.J. – Apparel and general merchandise manufacturers and retailers are using item-level, electronic product code (EPC)-enabled radio frequency identification (RFID) to enhance inventory visibility and respond to consumer demands for omnichannel options. According to results of the 2014 GS1 US Standards Usage Survey, more than half (57%) of retailers reported that they are currently implementing RFID, and another 19% planned to implement RFID within the next 12 months.

Additionally, 10.5% of retail respondents planned to implement RFID in 13-24 months. Respondents reported that on average 47% of items received by apparel and general merchandise retailers have RFID tags.

In addition, nearly half (48%) of the manufacturers surveyed responded that they are currently implementing RFID, and another 21% planned to implement RFID within the next 12 months. Eighteen percent planned to implement RFID in the next 13-24 months. Respondents reported that

The survey measured the usage of EPC-enabled item level RFID by both manufacturers and retailers (including manufacturers who are also retailers).

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