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On Spec

BY CSA STAFF

Fixtures

Leggett & Platt, Carthage, Mo., has launched a new branch, DisplayPlan US, to provide management, strategic direction and project management for point-of-purchase and display service to its U.S.-based clients. The new branch is headquartered in Chicago.

Energy Management

Carl’s Jr. franchise owner MJKL Enterprises, which operates 52 locations in Arizona, is converting all corporate-fleet vehicles to operate on alternative fuel derived from waste vegetable oil (WVO) collected at its restaurants. To date, 20% of the company’s vehicles have been converted to run on a WVO-based alternative fuel, with plans to convert the remaining fleet within the next 36 months.

Rebates, Incentives Available

Southern California Gas Co. (The Gas Company) is encouraging its business customers to apply for more than $10 million in energy-efficiency rebates and incentives reserved for them in 2007. It is the highest level of funding for such programs in the company’s 140-year history.

The money is available through a number of programs, including the Express Efficiency Program, the Food Service Equipment Rebate Program, the Energy-Efficiency Grant Program and the Custom Process Improvement and Process Equipment Replacement programs. Visit www.socalgas.com/energyefficiency for more information.

Flooring Goes Digital

Students at college bookstores across the country will be among the first consumers to experience a new type of dynamic advertising, one that delivers color, motion and sound literally right at their feet. C&N Sports Group, a performance-and athletic-apparel distributor, will sell digital floor displays from IntelliMat, Roanoke, Va., to some 750 collegiate bookstores nationwide.

“Not only is the IntelliMat one of the most unique products I’ve ever seen, but it has an unparalleled ability to quickly capture and hold the consumer’s attention,” said Russell Gaddy, president and CEO, C&N Sports Group, Roanoke, Va. Gaddy became familiar with the display technology during a pilot program at Virginia Tech’s University Bookstore.

The IntelliMat is a wireless computer embedded in a thin mat made of a thermoplastic alloy. Featuring four LCD screens, it creates a 30-in. diagonal display with full multimedia capability in the floor. The mat can be placed on top of virtually any floor surface. It is less than 1-in. thick, and the surround is ramped down on all four sides to bring it level to the floor.

The content on the display can be changed easily from a central location, allowing the retailer to target customers by demographics and day parts, highlight specific promotions and advertising or broadcast informational messages. Ads for C&N’s sports apparel will rotate on the mats in the college bookstores.

Tesco USA DC Looks to the Sun

Tesco, one of the greenest retailers in the United Kingdom, is extending its environmental commitment to its fledgling U.S. operation. The company is installing a $13 million solar roof on its distribution center in Riverside, Calif., which is now under construction.

“We believe this will be the largest roof-mounted solar installation in California and possibly the world,” said Tim Mason, CEO, Tesco USA.

The building integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) roofing system, from Solar Integrated Technologies, Los Angeles, is expected to produce more than 2.6 million kilowatt hours per year, providing nearly a fifth of the building’s power supply. It is expected to save approximately 1,200 tons of carbondioxide emissions each year.

The solar panels will be installed on two of the five distribution center buildings, and will cover 500,000 sq. ft. of the 640,000 sq. ft. of roof space.

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Sears comps hurt by energy costs

BY CSA STAFF

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. Sears Holdings today reported net income of $216 million, or $1.40 per diluted share, for the first quarter ended May 5, compared with net income of $180 million, or $1.14 per diluted share, for the first quarter ended April 29, 2006.

“In part, our domestic operating results reflect the impact of some of the same challenges being faced by our customers, such as rising energy costs and a slower housing market,” said Aylwin Lewis, Sears Holdings’ ceo and president. “However, as an organization, we need to overcome these factors by better controlling costs and developing innovative solutions that better meet our customers’ needs and allow us to generate a more reasonable level of profitability even in the face of such challenges.”

Domestic comparable-store sales declined 3.9% during the first quarter of fiscal 2007. Sears domestic comparable-store sales declined 3.4% for the quarter, while Kmart comparable-store sales declined 4.4%. We believe these declines reflect both increased competition and the impact of external factors such as rising energy costs, a slower housing market and poor weather conditions during the latter part of the first quarter of fiscal 2007. Kmart experienced lower transaction volumes across most merchandise categories, most notably within home goods, health and beauty products, and food and consumables. Similarly, Sears domestic recorded comparable-store sales declines across most merchandise categories and formats, with a notable decline in home appliance sales, which we believe reflects both a slower U.S. housing market and the impact of increased competition.

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Big Lots 1Q net sales up 3.4%

BY CSA STAFF

COLUMBUS, Ohio Big Lots today reported first quarter fiscal 2007 income from continuing operations of $29 million, or 26 cents per diluted share, compared to income from continuing operations of $14.5 million, or 13 cents per diluted share, in the first quarter of fiscal 2006. Including the impact of discontinued operations, first quarter fiscal 2007 net income totaled $28.8 million, or 26 cents per diluted share, compared to $13.7 million, or 12 cents per diluted share, in the prior year.

Net sales for the first quarter ended May 5, increased 3.4% to $1.13 billion, compared to $1.1 billion for the same period in fiscal 2006. Comparable-store sales for stores open at least two years at the beginning of the fiscal year increased 4.9% for the quarter.

For the second quarter 2007, the company expects income from continuing operations of 7 cents to 10 cents per share versus income from continuing operations of 4 cents per share last year. Comparable-store sales are expected to increase 2% to 4%, compared to a 5.2% comparable-store sales increase recorded last year.

For fiscal 2007, the company expects income from continuing operations of $1.25 to $1.30 per share versus income from continuing operations of $1.01 per share last year.

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