MARKETING/SOCIAL MEDIA

Wal-Mart Partners with Nickelodeon

BY CSA STAFF

Bentonville, Ark., Wal-Mart Stores and Nickelodeon announced a first-time advertising, promotions and merchandising partnership surrounding Nickelodeon’s 20th Annual Kids’ Choice Awards airing March 31.

Wal-Mart has signed on to become the first and exclusive retail sponsor for Nickelodeon’s annual television event that celebrates top entertainment picks, as chosen by kids. It is one of the network’s highest-rated events of the year.

The agreement between Wal-Mart and Nickelodeon will be divided among several Nickelodeon platforms including Nickelodeon television, Nickelodeon Magazine and Nick online.

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FINANCE

Lowe’s: Mortgage Woes Could Impact Business

BY CSA STAFF

Atlanta, The chairman of Lowe’s Cos. Inc. warned on Tuesday that continuing problems in the subprime mortgage sector may hurt its business in some areas.

“I don’t think it’s going to totally derail us in 2007, but I think it could have an impact in some markets on us,” chairman Robert Niblock said at a consumer conference.

Problems in the subprime mortgage sector, which involves loans to borrowers with poor credit histories, have weighed on U.S. financial markets in recent weeks. On Tuesday, the Mortgage Bankers Association said lenders began foreclosure against more than one of every 200 U.S. mortgage borrowers in the fourth quarter, a record level. Delinquencies rose in 49 states and among all loan types.

Niblock said although Lowe’s does not expect a rapid recovery in the housing market, “We’re seeing signs that the worst is behind us, which will mean easier comparisons.”

Niblock said Lowe’s was not seeing much change in competition as industry leader Home Depot looks to invest more in store improvements. He said data from a third-party firm showed Lowe’s gained unit market share in all the product categories it sold in 2006.

As Lowe’s adds stores in bigger U.S. cities, it was mulling different store formats, he said, such as locations with parking and garden centers on the roof, as well as two-level stores.

Niblock also said Lowe’s was not inclined to buy the professional supply business that Home Depot is considering selling. Instead, he said that Lowe’s was focusing on expanding business with commercial customers through its retail stores.

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FINANCE

Gymboree 4Q Profit Rises 20%

BY CSA STAFF

San Francisco, Gymboree Corp. said Tuesday its fiscal fourth-quarter profit rose 20% on a jump in revenue. For the quarter ended Feb. 3, Gymboree earned $24.4 million compared with $20.4 million for the same quarter in 2005.

Earnings from continuing operations rose to $26.8 million from $21.2 million in the 2005 period. Revenue rose 18% to $241 million from $203.7 million in the year-ago period. Comp-store sales rose 7% from the fourth quarter of last year.

For the full year, Gymboree earned $60.3 million compared with $33.7 million in 2005. Revenue rose to $791.6 million from $667.5 million the year before.

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