OPERATIONS

Staples expands tech support services

BY Dan Berthiaume

Framingham, Mass. – Staples is launching its new Staples EasyTech Total Support plan, which provides consumers and small businesses with comprehensive technology services for both their new and old PCs, including upgrades, maintenance and installations. The service builds on Staples’ EasyTech program that launched in 2007, and helps customers make more happen with their devices.

“Staples EasyTech Total Support helps customers maximize productivity through comprehensive service that keeps their technology up to date and running well,” said Conor Kearney, VP technology, Staples, Inc. “Small businesses can now cover their old PCs as well as new devices, and our great trade-in options let customers upgrade to new, high-performing computers easily and affordably.”

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FINANCE

Blue Nile has fine Q1

BY Dan Berthiaume

Seattle – Blue Nile Inc. reported increases in net income and sales during the first quarter of 2014, compared to the same period in the prior year. Net income rose 30% to $1.07 billion, from $832 million.

Net sales increased 6.8% to $103.7 million, compared to $97.1 million. Looking ahead, Blue Nile expects net sales between $108 and $113 million during the second quarter of fiscal 2014 and net sales between $485 and $510 million for fiscal 2014.

"As we announce our financial performance, we remain steadfast in our execution of three key initiatives in 2014," said Harvey Kanter, president and CEO. "These include enhancing the user experience; developing our product lines in bridal and diamond jewelry, as well as fashion pieces through The Designer Collective; and expanding internationally by building our presence in China and growing our established markets. Through these initiatives, we continue on our quest to be nothing less than the worldwide leading retailer of bridal and fine jewelry."

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FINANCE

Pier 1 amends credit agreement; closes $200 million loan

BY Dan Berthiaume

Fort Worth, Texas – Pier 1 Imports (U.S.) Inc., a subsidiary of Pier 1 Imports Inc., has completed the amendment of its $350 million senior secured revolving credit facility and syndicated and closed a previously announced $200 million seven-year senior secured term loan B.

Proceeds from the $200 million term loan are intended to be used for general corporate purposes, including, among other things, working capital needs, capital expenditures, cash dividends and repurchases of the company’s common stock.

Pier 1 Imports (U.S.), Inc., amended its $350 million secured, asset-based revolving credit facility to allow borrowings under a new term loan facility. As of April 30, 2014, Pier 1 had no cash borrowings under the revolving credit facility and $43.0 million in outstanding letters of credit.

Pier 1 Imports (U.S.) Inc. also entered into a new $200 million senior secured term loan B facility with Bank of America N.A., as administrative and collateral agent, Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Inc. and Wells Fargo Securities LLC, as joint lead arrangers and joint lead bookrunners, and various other agents. The term loan facility matures on April 30, 2021, and does not require the company to comply with any financial maintenance covenants, but contains certain customary representations and warranties, affirmative and negative covenants, and provisions relating to events of default.

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