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Specialty grocer stocks up on supply chain compliance

BY Dan Berthiaume

Bristol Farms, a 13-store specialty grocery chain, is making food safety a priority.

The Carson, California-based retailer has selected technology from ReposiTrak Inc. to manage regulatory and business documentation compliance within its supply chain.

Powered by technology from parent company Park City Group, the ReposiTrak platform consists of two systems: Compliance Management, which receives, stores and shares documentation and manages compliance through dashboards and alerts for missing or expired documents; and Track & Trace, which identifies product ingredients and their supply chain path in the event of a product recall.

“Our top priority is to provide safe food for our customers at Bristol Farms,” said Kevin Davis, chairman, president and CEO of Bristol Farms. “As our industry continues to focus on bringing consumers more and better locally-sourced products, we needed an automated system to help us manage the complexity associated with the Food Safety Modernization Act. Repositrak gives us that ability.”

High-profile product recalls in recent years have resulted in brand damage, lawsuits, and even prison terms for executives of companies involved. While the source brands typically face more regulatory and legal ramifications, it is still wise for retailers of produce and other food items to invest in technologies that help prevent or minimize the impact of selling unsafe products.

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Specialty retailer shines with record sales and earnings

BY Gina Acosta

A specialty retailer that is defined by consistent same-store increases for the past three quarters, an over-the-top televised fashion show and loyal customers who still love its in-store experience has chalked up another record quarter.

L Brands, the parent company of Victoria's Secret and Bath and Body Works, kept its winning streak going in the third quarter ended Oct. 31. Same-store sales increased 7%. Net sales rose 7% to $2.48 billion.

Net income rose 24.4% to a better-than-expected $164 million, compared to $131.8 million last year.

“We delivered record results in the third quarter,” said Leslie H. Wexner, chairman and CEO. “Our brands are differentiated and have high emotional content and we continue to deliver new, compelling merchandise in an exciting in-store experience. We are pleased with our month-to-date performance and we are well-positioned for the most significant part of our year which is in front of us.”

In a conference call with investors, Wexner said he thinks the success of his company depends on brick-and-mortar, not e-commerce. He noted that L Brands customers depend on a rich and rewarding store experience, which, in turn, drives sales.

L brands has been topping analyst expectations for several quarters and its stock price has been steadily growing while most of its peers have lost value. To date, the retailer has even been able to avoid macroeconomic problems and weak currencies.

The company says it now expects 2015 fourth quarter earnings per share to be $1.85 to $1.95. It raised its adjusted full-year earnings forecast to $3.69 to $3.79 per share from $3.58 to $3.73 previously, which incorporates the third quarter earnings beat to its previous forecast and increased fourth quarter interest expense of approximately $0.04 per share related to its recent $1 billion note issuance.

L Brands operates more than 3,000 Victoria's Secret, PINK, Bath & Body Works, La Senza and Henri Bendel stores worldwide.

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Weak traffic trend hits Kirkland’s

BY Gina Acosta

The CEO of Kirkland's blamed disappointing third quarter sales on traffic problems that he expects to persist into the fourth quarter despite the busy holiday season ahead.

The Tennessee-based home decor retailer reported a decrease in same store sales and income for the third quarter ended Oct. 31 compared with the prior year quarter. Same store sales increased 1.8%, compared with an increase of 6.3% in the prior-year quarter. Net income was a loss of $0.3 million, or 2 cents per diluted share, compared with net income of $1.3 million, or 7 cents per diluted share, for the 13 weeks ended Nov. 1, 2014.

"While our fall seasonal merchandise performed well and e-commerce revenues exceeded our expectations, we were disappointed with our third quarter results. Comparable sales were impacted by soft traffic including weakness in Texas, where we have our highest concentration of stores," said Mike Madden, Kirkland's president and CEO, said. "Our revised guidance assumes traffic challenges persist."

Looking ahead, Kirkland's now expects adjusted fourth quarter earnings per diluted share to be in the range of 89 cents to 96 cents. Same store sales will be flat to up to 2%.

Kirkland's opened 21 stores and closed two during the third quarter of 2015, bringing the total number of stores to 370 at quarter end.

Madden added: "The bulk of the holiday selling season is ahead of us and we believe we have a strong and engaging holiday assortment as evidenced by our continued strength in conversion. We're also encouraged by the performance of our 2015 class of stores and will enter Thanksgiving with 11% more stores open versus last year."

Kirkland's, Inc. currently operates 379 stores in 35 states.

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