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Ultimate Electronics Reshuffles Execs

BY CSA STAFF

Denver, Major management changes are in store at Ultimate Electronics, which named Mark Wattles, former chief executive at Hollywood Entertainment, as the company’s CEO. Gone are former CEO David Workman; Neal Bobrick, senior VP of sales; and Gerry Demple, senior VP of services. The company also said it garnered final approval of its $118.5 million debtor’s in possession financing by the bankruptcy court.

Other new executives for the company include:

• Bill Besselman, VP of strategic planning and analysis. He was most recently VP of strategic planning and analysis at Hollywood Video.

• Lon Weingart, consultant to the company for approximately six months overseeing operations of the business. Most recently he was senior VP of operations at Hollywood Video.

• Jim Marcum, who joined the company’s board of directors when Mark Wattles became chairman, has been asked by the board to take an active role with respect to the company’s financial operations and restructuring strategy.

Wattles, said, “I am excited to be working with some of the talent that led Hollywood Video through its successful turnaround.”

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Friedman’s Seeks to Close 165 Stores

BY CSA STAFF

Savannah, Ga., Friedman’s Inc. announced it will seek the Bankruptcy Court’s approval in its Chapter 11 reorganization to close up to 165 underperforming stores in 17 states, and sell in excess of $25 million of inventory through a court-approved disposition process. The closings will leave Friedman’s with approximately 481 stores in 20 states.

The company’s board of directors approved the store-closing program on Monday, and pleadings were filed in the Bankruptcy Court on Monday evening. The Court has scheduled a hearing on the closings for March 2, 2005.

Friedman’s filed Chapter 11 in January 2005.

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Nordstrom 4Q Earnings Up 34%

BY CSA STAFF

Seattle, Nordstrom today reported a 34% rise in net earnings for the fourth quarter ended Jan. 29, 2005. The retailer reported net earnings of $140 million, or $1 per diluted share. The earnings were reduced $4.7 million, or 30? per share, due to a non-cash expense adjustment related to a correction in the company’s lease accounting policy. Excluding the adjustment, 2004 fourth-quarter net earnings were $144.7 million, or $1.03 per diluted share.

Sales for the quarter increased 9.4%, to a record $2.1 billion vs. $1.9 billion in the same period last year. Fourth-quarter same-store sales increased 7.2%, which was better than the company’s plan.

For the fiscal year ended Jan. 29, 2005, net earnings increased 62% to $393.5 million compared to $242.8 million for the same period last year. Total sales for the year increased 10.6% to $7.1 billion compared to prior-year sales of $6.4 billion. Same-store sales rose 8.5%.

Nordstrom opened two full-line stores during fiscal 2004, one in Charlotte, N.C., and the other in Miami. It plans to open a store at Phipps Plaza, Atlanta, during the first quarter of 2005.

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