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Walmart to expand health coverage to domestic partners

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Wal-Mart Stores will offer health insurance benefits to its U.S. workers’ domestic partners, including those of the same sex, starting Jan. 1, 2014. Wal-Mart sent a postcard to its associates on Monday to tell them about the change. The chain also informed workers that it plans to begin offering vision care to its eligible employees and their dependents.

The chain defines domestic partners as same-sex or opposite sex spouses, and unmarried partners who are not legally separated who have lived together for at least 12 months, are not married to anyone else, are in an exclusive relationship and plan to continue sharing a household indefinitely, the Associated Press reported.

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, which had denied federal benefits to gay couples married under state law.

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Brown Shoe Co. swings from loss to profit

BY Dan Berthiaume

St. Louis – Brown Shoe Company swung from a net loss in the second quarter of fiscal 2012 to net earnings in the second quarter of fiscal 2013. The retailer also boosted net sales and same-store sales.

For the quarter, Brown Shoe reported net earnings of $15.4 million, compared to a net loss of $2.5 million a year earlier. Net sales grew 10.1% to $621.7 million from $564.9 million and same-store sales rose 6/8%. The retailer attributed this strong performance to good sales growth in running, sandal and canvas shoe styles. During the quarter, Brown Shoe closed or relocated 14 stores and added 19 new stores, as average revenue per square foot continued to improve.

While consolidated net sales were up $57 million in the quarter — or 10% year-over-year — approximately $22 million of this amount was timing related, due to a shift in sales to the second quarter from the third quarter,” said Diane Sullivan, president and CEO of Brown Shoe Company. “Both retail and wholesale contributed to this quarter’s success, with Famous delivering record second quarter sales and operating profit and both of our wholesale platforms, Healthy Living and Contemporary Fashion, reporting double-digit increases in sales.”

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Tiffany net earnings sparkle in Q2

BY Staff Writer

New York – Tiffany & Co. grew its net earnings 16% during the second quarter of fiscal 2013, and also increased net sales and same-store sales. Net earnings increased 16% to $107 million, from $92 million in the same quarter a year earlier.

In addition, worldwide net sales rose 4% to $926 million while same-store sales grew 5% due to growth in most regions. In the Americas region, total sales increased 2% to $444 million in the second quarter and total sales in the Asia-Pacific region rose 20% to $208 million. The negative impact of currency translation due to a weakened yen caused total sales to decline 14% to $136 million in Japan, but without currency impact total sales in Japan would have risen 7%.

In addition, total sales in Europe rose 11% to $111 million in the second quarter and other sales increased 33% to $26 million, primarily reflecting the conversion in July 2012 of five stores in the United Arab Emirates from independently operated to company-operated.

"Total sales growth met our objective due to solid performance in most regions, and with particular strength in our statement and fine jewelry product categories,” said Michael J. Kowalski, chairman and CEO of Tiffany. “We were pleased with the results of our efforts to improve gross margin which, combined with well-controlled expenses, yielded a solid increase in operating margin."

Looking ahead, Tiffany sees the addition of a net of 14 company-operated stores. This includes opening six stores in the Americas, seven in Asia-Pacific and three in Europe, and closing one each in Asia-Pacific and Japan.

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