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Toys ‘R’ Us to install North America’s largest rooftop solar power system

BY CSA STAFF

Wayne, N.J. – Toys "R" Us is installing the largest rooftop solar power installation in North America at its distribution center in Flanders, N.J. Staging for the system is currently underway and construction will conclude this summer. Upon completion, the 5.38 megawatt on-site solar array will occupy 869,294 sq. ft. It is estimated to generate 72% of the electrical needs for the Toys "R" Us facility, which is the largest of the chain’s 10 DCs and covers over 1.5 million sq. ft., in addition to the roof, which spans 32 acres.

Constellation Energy will build, own and maintain the system. Toys "R" Us will purchase the electricity generated by the system from Constellation Energy through a 20-year power purchase agreement.

The Toys “R” Us solar power installation will cover nearly 70% of the distribution center’s 1,281,000-sq-ft. roof and will consist of more than 37,000 ultra lightweight Uni-Solar brand photovoltaic solar panels, manufactured by United Solar, a subsidiary of Energy Conversion Devices.

Depending on weather conditions, the system is expected to produce approximately 6,362,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity each year. Generating the same amount of electricity using non-renewable sources would result in the release of an estimated 4,387 metric tons of carbon dioxide, the equivalent emissions from 860 passenger vehicles or that of the electricity used to power 532 homes annually.

The solar power system is comprised of thin-film photovoltaic panels that are flexible, lightweight, durable and maintain performance, even in sub-optimal lighting conditions. In addition, the non-ballasted, non-penetrating and removable racking system allows access to the roof and prevents debris build-up and maintenance issues.

Beyond the solar project in Flanders, N.J., the company is making a number of sustainable upgrades to its existing stores around the country and incorporating renewable and energy efficient features into its new locations. In January 2010, a rooftop solar power system was installed at the Babies "R" Us in North Brunswick, N.J., through a partnership with the developer. It currently provides approximately 67% of the electricity needs for the location.

This spring, another rooftop solar system at the "R" Superstore in Secaucus, N.J., will be installed in partnership with Hartz Solar, a subsidiary Hartz Mountain Industries. It is estimated to generate 33% of electricity for the location.

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KPMG survey: Retailers look to organic growth initiatives to increase market share

BY CSA STAFF

New York City — Retailers will pursue major investment in customer relationship management systems, business intelligence systems, and enterprise resource systems for transaction processing, according to a survey of 152 senior financial executives of global retail companies by KPMG International. In improving supply chain efficiency and costs over the next two years, the retail execs, in order of priority, see enhancing distribution structure, investing in production or distribution technology, decreasing inventory levels, and consolidating suppliers as the greatest priorities.

As to how they believe their firms can increase market share, 46% said primarily through organic growth initiatives, 22% said through a mix of organic growth and M&A, and 22% primarily through M&A.

Forty-four percent of the retail executives in the KPMG survey believe that it is "very likely" that their companies will enter new geographic markets in 2011. As to how they will expand, 53% said by opening new stores, 39% said through additional distribution channels (including online), and 21% said through mergers and acquisitions.

Asia (49%) and the United States (48%) were identified as the global regions where the retail executives expect the greatest growth in company sales. The next two regions were Latin America (44%) and India (40%).

The surveyed retailers expect improved financial performance in 2011, as a result of increasing consumer demand, but many indicate that their companies will have difficulty raising prices and sustaining profit margins, In the KPMG global survey, 24% of the retailers expect "significant increases" in financial performance over last year and 51% are expecting "some increase." Only 9% expect a decline in performance. This optimistic view is a result of seeing an increase in consumer demand. In fact, 18% said they’ve already seen a sustained increase in demand for their company’s products and services since the economic slowdown, while 54% expect sustained demand in 2011, and 24% in 2012 or later.

Despite the growth in demand, 58% of the KPMG survey respondents said that their companies will have difficulty raising prices in 2011 and 41% said that their firms will have difficulty sustaining profit margins. In identifying the greatest threats to margins, 56% pointed to costs of inputs or merchandise and 47% to discounting and other sales incentives.

"Retail executives are seeing strong top line growth, but in order to generate growth and success in the years ahead, their companies will need to reconsider and often recast their understanding of customers, markets, and their means of serving them, as well as the level of investment that it will take to succeed going forward," said Mark Larson, KPMG’s global head of retail.

"With consumer behavior, spending, and demographic profiles changing rapidly," Larson said. "A key to success will be investing in technology to harness the vast amounts of data that reside in a company. That data can derive the insights that lead to the new markets, new strategies and new operating models that will ultimately generate growth and profitability.”

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Macy’s Q1 earnings soar; raises outlook

BY CSA STAFF

Cincinnati — Macy’s first-quarter earnings soared and easily beat Wall Street predictions on rising sales, tight expense controls and its efforts to tailor merchandise by region. The department store operator is doubling its quarterly dividend and raising its full-year earnings and sales outlook.

Macy’s posted net income of $131 million for the quarter that ended on April 30, nearly six times higher than the $23 million it reported a year earlier.

Same-store sales rose 5.4%, as Macy’s previously reported, while overall sales rose 5.7% to $5.9 billion.

Online revenue for Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s combined jumped 38.3% in the first quarter. The increase helped boost revenue at stores open at least a year by 1.3 percentage points.

"We are building a culture of growth at Macy’s," Terry J. Lundgren, chairman, president and CEO, said in a statement. "Our performance cannot be attributed to a single factor, but rather to the coordinated execution of a series of complementary … strategies."

Gross margin, which reflects the profitability of the items Macy’s sells, slid 0.3 percentage points to 39.1% as Macy’s dealt with rising cotton costs. But the company has repeatedly said its clout with vendors was mitigating some of that risk.

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