FINANCE

Wal-Mart Canada plans $500 million expansion

BY Dan Berthiaume

Mississauga, Ont. – Wal-Mart Canada plans to complete 35 supercenter projects in the company’s fiscal year which runs from February 1, 2014 to January 31, 2015. The company also will expand its distribution network to support its growth and will continue to expand its Canadian e-commerce operation.

The projects will represent a combined investment of close to $500 million in the Canadian economy during the next 12 months and will include the construction of new stores as well as the expansion, remodeling and relocation of existing stores. The investments will include more than $376 million for store projects, $91 million for distribution network projects to grow Walmart Canada’s fresh food capability, and $31 million for e-commerce projects. The combined expansion is expected to generate more than 7,500 jobs during the next year, including construction jobs.

The locations for specific store and distribution center projects will be announced as specific projects become finalized. Expansion will bring Wal-Mart Canada’s store count to 395 by the end of January 2015, including 282 supercenters and 113 discount stores.

"Customers in every region of Canada are looking to save money on their entire list of shopping needs," said Shelley Broader, Wal-Mart Canada’s president and CEO. "Delivering on our commitment to help lower the cost of living is our top priority, and our growing network of supercenters and our expanding e-commerce offering enable us to do just that."

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Report: Target CFO calls for chip-enabled smartcards

BY Dan Berthiaume

Minneapolis – John J. Mulligan, CFO and executive VP of Target, is publicly calling for U.S. businesses to adopt chip-enabled smartcards. In a column published in the Congressional blog of political site The Hill, Mulligan said the attack on Target exposed the sophistication of today’s hackers and that the retailer had already been striving toward adopting chip-enabled smartcards, used in most of the rest of the world, before the holiday 2013 data breach.

“At Target, we’ve been working for years towards adoption of this technology,” Mulligan said in the column. “Since the breach, we are accelerating our own $100 million investment to put chip-enabled technology in place. Our goal: implement this technology in our stores and on our proprietary REDcards by early 2015, more than six months ahead of our previous plan.”

Mulligan said that by storing encrypted customer data in embedded microprocessor chips, smartcards prevent thieves who manage to steal customer account numbers from using them. He also said four-digit PIN numbers can provide further security and Target supports their use, but there is no industry consensus on whether PIN numbers should be used in conjunction with chips. He said Target has adopted smartcards in Canada, where industry estimates show total retail losses from card skimming were reduced 72% between 2008 and 2012.

Mulligan said the inability of U.S. retailers, issuers, banks and payment networks to agree on how implementation costs should be shared has been a reason change from magnetic stripe cards has been slow. He also referenced Target’s 2004 pilot of chi—enabled smartcards.

“About 10 years ago, Target piloted an early generation of the chip-enabled technology on the Target VISA REDcard, with mixed results, said Mulligan. “Notably, the cards were much more expensive to produce and required the replacement of store card-readers. Also, the technology at that time would have only been usable in our stores, making for a confusing experience for customers, overall. After three years of going it alone, we discontinued the program.

He concluded by promising Target will meet its accelerated goal for getting chip-enabled technology in place in its stores, as well as invest in protections for mobile transactions and investigate e-commerce solutions.

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FINANCE

J.C. Penney Q4 same-store sales up 2% in first quarterly gain since 2011

BY Marianne Wilson

Dallas — J.C. Penney Company on Tuesday said its same-store sales rose 2% in the fourth quarter, which included the holiday season. It was the chain’s first positive quarterly sales result since 2011.

"While 2013 brought a lot of change and challenges to J.C. Penney, the steady improvements in our business show that the company’s turnaround is on track. In spite of the significant headwinds facing all retailers this season, including unprecedented harsh weather conditions in many parts of the country, we delivered on our promise to generate positive comparable store sales growth in the fourth quarter," said Penney CEO Myron E. (Mike) Ullman.

Penney said its same-store sales increased 3.1% in the nine weeks through November and December. The retailer cited solid performances in beauty (Sephora), activewear, sweaters, outerwear, dresses, boots, men’s clothing, luggage and housewares.

“As we look ahead to 2014, our associates are encouraged by the company’s results and we remain steadfast in our focus to build on these achievements and return to profitable growth," Ullman said.

The chain said it closed its 2013 fiscal year with total available liquidity in excess of $2 billion.

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