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Soft sales don’t deter Advance Auto’s expansion agenda

BY Mike Troy

Advance Auto Parts announced plans to open its 4,000th store on Friday, one day after reporting disappointing sales at its 3,999 locations.

Total sales for the second quarter increased 6.1% to $1.55 billion due largely to the addition of 175 new locations. However, same store sales declined 0.3% on top of a prior year decline of 2.7%.

“We are pleased with our profit improvement despite our comparable store sales being essentially flat,” CEO Darren Jackson said. “The positive comparable sales growth at the start of the quarter was offset by weaker demand in the balance of the quarter including sales shortfalls in key seasonal categories. While the macroeconomic environment continued to impact our customers we continue to be encouraged by the strong long-term fundamentals of our industry and remain focused on improving our sales performance as we continue to improve our profitability.”

Profits increased 17.3% to $116.9 million, compared to $99.6 million. The improved profit performance was driven by sales of higher margin products and strong expense control as SG&A costs declined to 37.7% of sales from 38.3% the year earlier. The 58 basis-point decrease was primarily driven by the timing of last year’s company-wide leadership meeting, lower marketing expense, increased labor productivity and lower credit card fees as a result of the insourcing of the company’s commercial credit program.

“We are pleased that we were able to exceed our profit expectations for the quarter,” said Mike Norona, executive VP and CFO. “Despite softer sales than we expected in the back half of the quarter, our gross profit improvements and disciplined focus on expense management allowed us to increase our earnings per share 18.7% and our operating margins by 98 bps during the quarter. Our long-term operating income rate goal is to achieve 12% and our progress in the quarter is a solid step in the right direction.”

The 4000th store is set to open on August 14 in Montgomery, N.Y.

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Overstock.com’s donations to WWP break $1M

BY CSA STAFF

SALT LAKE CITY — Overstock.com’s donations to Wounded Warrior Project now exceed $1 million.

In keeping with the company’s longstanding commitment to support members of the U.S. Armed Forces, Overstock.com has collected customer donations on behalf of WWP since November 2009.

"It’s incumbent upon citizens to assist those who have endured serious injury while serving our nation," said Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne. "Overstock.com’s support for Wounded Warrior Project is another manifestation of this company’s deep sense of obligation to serve those who have sacrificed their own bodily well-being to ensure ours."

"Overstock.com’s support for Wounded Warrior Project has profoundly helped us positively impact the lives of thousands of wounded veterans and their families," said Steve Nardizzi, executive director, Wounded Warrior Project. "Both the funds and awareness raised go a long way in supporting our vision of the most successful and well-adjusted generation of injured service members in our nation’s history, and for that we are so grateful."

In addition to the company’s direct donations, customers can make donations in support of WWP at checkout.

WWP’s purpose is to raise awareness and to enlist the public’s aid for the needs of injured service members, to help injured servicemen and women aid and assist one another, and to provide specific, direct programs and services to meet their needs. WWP is a national, nonpartisan organization headquartered in Jacksonville, Fla.

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J&J exec turns to chocolate at Mars

BY CSA STAFF

Twenty-year Johnson & Johnson former executive Rick LaBerge was named VPof sales at Mars Chocolate North America.

In his new role, LaBerge will lead the Mars Chocolate sales organization, overseeing the strategy and execution of retail management, customer account teams, field sales and customer development. He will serve as a member of the Mars senior management team and will play an active role in industry events, according to the company.

LaBerge joins Mars from J&J where he most recently served as the general manager of the Walmart Global Cross Functional team for the health care company’s consumer product’s segment. In that role, LaBerg oversaw a mix of brands and segments across the consumer sector representing $1.6 billion in sales.

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