OPERATIONS

Sports Authority names new chief merchandising officer

BY Staff Writer

Englewood, Colo. — Sports Authority has named Stephen Binkley, formerly senior VP of merchandising and softlines, as its new chief merchandising officer. He replaces Greg Waters, formerly executive VP, chief merchant and chief marketing officer, who has decided to leave the company after 24 years to pursue personal interests.

During his tenure at Sports Authority, Waters held several leadership roles.

“Greg has been a great asset to Sports Authority and we thank him for his contributions to the company,” commented Michael Foss, CEO, Sports Authority. “He has played an important role in strengthening company operations and in our brand’s evolution overall. Greg will be spending the next several months aiding in the transition and we thank him for that. We wish Greg the best in all of his future endeavors.”

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Big 5 CEO ‘pleased’ with Q2 results

BY CSA STAFF

Big 5 Sporting Goods Corporation saw a slight uptick in customer traffic and same-store sales improvement for each of its major product categories — apparel, footwear and hardgoods — which contributed to a 4.4% same-store sales increase for the second quarter ended June 30 compared to the prior-year period.

Net sales for the quarter increased to $239.9 million from $226.6 million for the second quarter last year.

Second-quarter sales benefited from the Easter holiday, during which the company’s stores are closed, because it fell in first quarter this year, rather than in the second. This benefit was partially offset by the impact of the calendar shift of the Fourth of July holiday further into the third quarter this year, which resulted in certain holiday-related sales moving from the second quarter to the third quarter.

Gross profit for the quarter increased to $79.7 million from $73.1 million in the same quarter last year. Net income for the quarter improved to $6 million, or $0.28 per diluted share, from net income of $2.6 million, or $0.12 per diluted share, including $0.03 per diluted share of store closing and non-cash impairment charges, for the same quarter last year.

For the 26-week period ended June 30, 2013, net sales increased to $486.2 million from $445.1 million in the comparable period last year. Same-store sales increased 7.4% in the first 26 weeks of fiscal 2013 versus the comparable period last year. Net income improved to $13.6 million, or $0.62 per diluted share, for the first 26 weeks of fiscal 2013, from net income of $2.7 million, or $0.13 per diluted share, including $0.03 of store closing and impairment charges, for the first half of last year.

"We are pleased with our second quarter financial results as we continued to see the underlying performance of our business strengthen," said Steven G. Miller, chairman, president and CEO. "We experienced a slight improvement in customer traffic and a mid-single-digit increase in average sale, and our same store sales improved for each of our major product categories of apparel, footwear and hardgoods. We improved merchandise margins for the quarter and also maintained our cost discipline, which allowed us to continue to leverage expenses, expand operating margins and drive a strong earnings performance. We also reduced per-store inventory levels and used our strong cash flow to invest in our store base, pay our dividend and meaningfully lower our debt versus the prior year."

During the quarter, the company opened two new stores, one of which was a relocation of an existing store, ending the quarter with 416 stores in operation. During the fiscal 2013 third quarter, the company anticipates opening four new stores and closing one store as part of a relocation. For the fiscal 2013 full year, the company anticipates opening approximately 15 net new stores.

Big 5 is a leading sporting goods retailer in the western United States, operating 416 stores in 12 states under the "Big 5 Sporting Goods" name.

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Westfield Shopping Centers court tech-savvy BTS crowd

BY CSA STAFF

Los Angeles — Westfield, an Australian-based company that operates 47 U.S. malls, is leveraging mobile technology and social media to promote its back-to-school campaign.

The company is touting itself as a destination not only for apparel and accessories but also as the place where students can get supplies and the latest technology. Aiming its marketing efforts at the mall crowd, the company is also hosting special events and offering prizes both online and at its centers and stores and positioning itself as a place where students can connect with friends.

Beginning in August, the Westfield back-to-school campaign will take place on the weekends at 10 centers across the country, including Westfield Brandon, Westfield Fox Valley, Westfield Connecticut Post, Westfield Annapolis, Westfield Montgomery, Westfield Oakridge, Westfield Culver City, Westfield Santa Anita, Westfield Southcenter and Westfield North County. Oversize, colorful school lockers, which contain prizes, showcase retailers’ merchandise. For four consecutive days — or for eight consecutive days at select centers — shoppers will have a chance to “unlock” combinations, and enter to win daily prizes online and at the participating center. Daily winners who open a locker by texting their center’s special code to ‘51515’ can win an iPad Mini and other prizes.

“During the back-to-school season, Westfield knows busy parents are on a mission to find value and kids are on the hunt to find the latest and coolest items,” said Kirk Thompson, VP Marketing, Family, Community and Customer Service at Westfield. “Our goal is to deliver a fun and engaging experience, making it easy and convenient for our shoppers to be successful during back-to-school.”

The company is also inviting anyone who can’t make it in person to participate by following local mom bloggers and fashion vloggers, selected from each of the participating Westfield locations, who will be showcasing the Westfield back-to-school experience on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. Additionally, Westfield center Facebook fans will have the chance to win a $1,000 back-to-school shopping spree simply by “liking” their local center on Facebook.

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