FINANCE

Urban Outfitters misses on Q1 net income, sales

BY Dan Berthiaume

Philadelphia – Urban Outfitters saw its net income decline 20% to $37.08 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2015, from $47.06 million in the first quarter of the previous fiscal year. This significant net income drop came despite a 6% jump in total net sales to $686.3 million, from $648.2 million.

Net income and sales totals both came in below Wall Street expectations. Total same-store sales remained flat. Higher marketing expenses, which helped boost net sales, contributed to the decline in net income.

"I am pleased to announce record first quarter sales driven by strong performances at both the Anthropologie and Free People brands," said Richard A. Hayne, CEO. "While Anthropologie and Free People continue to deliver record levels in sales and profits, Urban Outfitters had a disappointing quarter and is working diligently to regain its fashion footing.”

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FINANCE

Hhgregg swings to loss in Q4

BY Dan Berthiaume

Indianapolis – Hhgregg Inc. swung to a net loss of $7.2 billion in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2014, compared to net income of $9.9 million in the same period the prior fiscal year. Net sales dropped 10% to $538.3 million, from $597.6 million.

A same-store sales decline of 10% affected both net income and sales, and charges related to Hhgregg’s planned exit from the mobile phone business also helped drive its net loss.

Dennis May, president and CEO of Hhgregg, cited severe weather as also hampering results in the fourth quarter.

“In addition to continued volatility in the consumer electronics business, extreme weather in January, February and the beginning of March negatively impacted traffic and operating performance in the majority of our stores, particularly those located in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions, where the weather was the most severe,” said May. “Despite these challenges, the company was able to report a comparable sales increase in its appliance category, which marked its 11th consecutive quarter of comparable store sales increases in the appliance category.”

For the full fiscal year, net income dropped 91% to $228,000 from $25.37 million. Net sales decreased 5% to $2.34 million, from $2.47 million.

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OPERATIONS

Trader Joe’s is consumers’ favorite grocery store

BY Dan Berthiaume

Boulder, Colo. – Trader Joe’s is North America’s favorite grocery retailer based on satisfaction. A study of more than 6,200 consumers by Market Force Information, also found that Publix and Aldi were ranked second and third.

All three were lauded for their courteous and fast service, as well as the quality of their private-label brands. For the rankings, Market Force asked participants to rate their satisfaction with their most recent grocery shopping experience and their likelihood to refer that grocer. The results were averaged to attain a Composite Loyalty Score, which reveals the intersection between overall satisfaction and the likelihood of recommending a store to others.

Trader Joe’s took the No. 1 spot out of the 12 grocery chains studied, with a score of 82%, and was trailed by Publix with 80%. Aldi, Costco and Hy-Vee rounded out the top five. This is the second year in a row that Trader Joe’s ranked first and Publix ranked second. Whole Foods and Wegman’s, which made it into the top five in the 2013 study, scored well, but failed to garner enough votes to earn a top spot on this year’s list, while brands like Safeway moved up considerably.

Publix and Trader Joe’s scored highest in many of the operational attributes that matter most to consumers, including courteous service, fast checkouts and inviting atmosphere. Aldi was the clear leader in low prices, ShopRite received the highest marks for its sales and promotions, and Walmart was lauded for offering a one-stop shopping experience.

Market Force also looked at consumer preferences across categories such as produce, meat and private-label products. Costco trumped Publix and H-E-B for highest-quality meat. Publix won on offering the highest-quality produce, with H-E-B a close second. Trader Joe’s dominated in categories related to healthy food and nutrition. It scored an 83% for its natural and organic food choice, far ahead of Publix with 31%. It also led by a wide margin in providing nutrition and health information and instituting sustainable policies. The honors for best private-label brand products also went to Trader Joe’s, followed by Aldi and H-E-B.

Market Force drilled down to identify the four most popular grocers in each region. Walmart led in all regions, except for the Northeast where ShopRite was a strong favorite. Publix was the second-favorite in the South, Kroger in the Midwest, Safeway in the West and Sobeys in Canada.

• Nationally: Walmart, Kroger, Publix, Aldi
• Northeast: ShopRite, Walmart, Stop & Shop, Giant
• South: Walmart, Publix, Kroger, H-E-B
• Midwest: Walmart, Kroger, Hy-Vee, Aldi
• West: Walmart, Safeway, Costco, WinCo Foods
• Canada: Walmart, Sobeys, Loblaws, No Frills

“Competition is fierce and growing in the grocery sector with regional players going national and national players moving toward neighborhood market concepts,” said Janet Eden-Harris, chief marketing officer for Market Force. “It’s only getting more difficult to attract and keep customers, and being adequate is no longer good enough. We’ve found that delighted customers are three times more likely to recommend a grocery store than those who had just an OK experience. This tells us that chains that truly wow their customers on their first visit can establish brand advocates who go on to recommend the grocer to friends and family.”

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