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Walmart tests new c-store format, Walmart To Go

BY Staff Writer

New York — Wal-Mart Stores is testing a new convenience-store concept called “Walmart To Go,” with the initial location in the chain’s hometown of Bentonville, Ark.

The new store offers convenience store products, prepared foods and gasoline. At approximately 2,500 sq. ft., Walmart To Go is much smaller than the company’s other small-format concept, Walmart Express, which averages about 15,000 sq. ft.

Walmart also has a grocery delivery service with a similar name, WalmartToGo.com, in two markets.

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Weather was no match for Conn’s in fourth quarter

BY CSA STAFF

Everything from portfolio growth to weather posed a challenge to Conn’s, but it was no match as the company’s business model remained resilient in the fourth quarter.

Conn’s reported net income of $27.73 million in the quarter of fiscal 2014, up 57% from $17.66 million in the same quarter the prior fiscal year.

Net sales surged 45% to $301.63 million from $250.34 million, and same-store sales grew 33.4%. Conn’s said significant sales growth was reported across all major product categories during the quarter, and the company opened six new stores in that time.

During the full fiscal year, net income soared 78% to 93.45 million and total net sales increased 39% to $991.84 million from $714.26 million, while same-store sales grew 26.5%. Significant gross margin expansion positively affected Conn’s net income results.

During fiscal 2015, same-store sales are expected to grow 5%-10% and the company plans to open 15 to 20 new stores.

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Fred’s fourth quarter takes hit

BY CSA STAFF

Favorable tax credits and a 53rd week in fiscal 2012 affected Fred’s net income results for the fourth quarter. Severe weather also contributed some to the company’s net sales decline, as did higher-than-normal utility bills and rising generic drug costs.

The company reported a substantial 34.5% decrease in its net income during the quarter of fiscal 2013, to $5.56 million from $8.49 million in the same quarter a year earlier. Net sales declined 7.2% to $495 million from $533.4 million, and same-store sales grew 0.1%.

"Our company’s performance in the fourth quarter reflected all the difficulties that have been cited throughout the retail sector recently as we dealt with the unusually harsh weather of the past several months and a significant 24% increase in the cost of generic drugs, which reduced gross margin by 100 basis points in our pharmacy department,” said CEO Bruce A. Efird. “Operationally, we achieved earnings of $0.17 per share for the quarter.”

During the full fiscal year, Fred’s net income fell 12% to $26 million from $29.6 million and net sales dropped 0.8% to $1.94 million from $1.95 million.

Looking ahead, total sales for first quarter 2014 are expected to be flat to up 2%. Same-store sales for the first quarter are expected to be flat to down 2% reflecting poor weather conditions and weather-related store closings that have affected Lawn & Garden and other seasonal merchandise.

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