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SPECS 2010 underway with standing-room-only sessions

BY CSA STAFF

Orlando, Fla. Chain Store Age’s 46th annual SPECS (store planning, equipment, construction services) conference got off to a rousing start Sunday with an opening address by Mike Eruzione, captain of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team that surprised the world by beating Russia to ultimately take the gold medal.

Eruzione’s address was standing-room-only, as he inspired the audience of retailers and retail suppliers with the behind-the-scenes story of how a group of inexperienced hockey players took on the sport’s elite, and won.

The session was followed by the opening of the conference’s Solution Center, where attendees networked among the array of exhibit booths.

Monday’s opening address by noted adventurer and inspirational speaker Neal Petersen was also filled to capacity, as were the first lineup of concurrent informational sessions.

“I feel change in the air,” said one retailer on Monday morning. “It feels like we’ve turned the [economic] corner and everyone here is poised to get back to business in 2010.”

Watch for more reports from the show floor as the conference unfolds over the next two days.

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Jo-Ann celebrates craft month with in-store events

BY CSA STAFF

HUDSON, Ohio Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores announced that it is celebrating national craft month this March with special in-store demonstrations and new projects.

“This year, Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores is encouraging people to take time to craft a memory,” notes Brent Beebe, VP crafts. “With 63 million households crafting each year, we feel this theme reminds people what crafting can be—a memorable gathering of family or friends, or an individual artistic endeavor. It’s about the process as well as the project.”

The demonstrations will include wedding favors, papercrafting and Easter foam projects.

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Pier 1 Imports reports 4Q sales growth

BY CSA STAFF

FORT WORTH, Texas Pier 1 Imports reported that total sales for the fourth quarter were $396 million compared with $389 million for the same period last year. Comparable-store sales for the fourth quarter increased 6.5%. Total sales for the fiscal year were $1.29 billion compared with $1.32 billion last year. Comparable-store sales for the year increased 1.5%.

For the fourth quarter, Pier 1 said it anticipates that reported merchandise margins will be better than expected at approximately 55.7%, compared to 44.3% reported last year. Reported earnings per share are expected to be at least 29 cents per share compared with a loss of 33 cents last year.

 

Alex Smith, president and CEO, stated, “We are proud of our fourth quarter performance, which began with an extremely successful holiday selling season. We knew that the strength of December sales, the resulting seasonal sell-through, and the lower level of markdown inventory would shorten the Pier 1 sale. However, we were able to more than offset the pressure on sales in January with a very strong merchandise margin improvement. Our quarter ended with strong sales and margin in February, despite the extreme weather conditions experienced in many parts of the country. The increase in margin rate during the quarter is attributable not only to less clearance merchandise but also to our initial markups which remained strong.”

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