FINANCE

Wayfair raises $157 million in Series B financing

BY Dan Berthiaume

Boston – Wayfair has raised $157 million in equity financing to fuel continued growth of the company’s portfolio of home brands. The Series B investment round, led by funds and accounts managed by T. Rowe Price Associates Inc., encompassed a limited number of key investors, including growth-focused mutual funds, as well as a private investment from Julie M.B. Bradley, TripAdvisor CFO and Wayfair board member.

"Wayfair is heading into 2014 with tremendous momentum and growth as more and more shoppers opt for one of our exceptional e-commerce shopping experiences," said Niraj Shah, CEO and co-founder of Wayfair.

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Bon-Ton invests in growing e-commerce business

BY CSA STAFF

The Bon-Ton Stores is investing in its growing e-commerce business. The company has signed a lease with Duke Realty Corp for a 743,000-sq.-ft., automated, direct-to-consumer fulfillment center in West Jefferson, Ohio.

The company expects the facility to be fully operational and ship its first orders in spring of 2015.

The new facility will consolidate the e-commerce fulfillment that is currently being performed at Bon-Ton’s four distribution centers. When fully operational, the fulfillment center will employ approximately 139 net new Ohio associates, with additional seasonal jobs expected to be created during the peak holiday shopping season.

“In response to the rapid growth in our e-commerce business, we are taking this step to ensure extraordinary service to our customers,” said president and CEO Brendan Hoffman. “This new fulfillment center will permit significant expansion of our shipping capacity with improved operational efficiency.”

The consolidation will impact associates involved in the direct-to-consumer fulfillment at the company’s four distribution centers. Affected associates will be offered the opportunity to interview for available positions at the new West Jefferson facility or receive career transition benefits, including severance, according to established practices and state employment service support. Bon-Ton does not expect that the combined severance and other expenses associated with the consolidation, which it expects to incur during the next 16 months, will be material.

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Big Lots elevates CFO

BY CSA STAFF

Big Lots has elevated CFO Timothy A. Johnson’s to EVP, CFO. Johnson has served as financial chief since 2012 with primary responsibility for all financial disciplines within the company including financial reporting and controls, treasury, risk management, tax, internal audit, financial planning and analysis and investor relations.

During the last several months, his role has expanded significantly to include responsibility for the company’s real estate strategy and administration along with the asset protection of its stores, distribution centers and offices. Johnson is a member of the executive leadership team and assists in charting the company’s strategic direction.

"Throughout my career, I have always found the key to success comes down to people, and TJ is a great example,” said CEO David Campisi. “He has been a trusted business partner to me during the last 10 months as we reposition our business, and he has been an invaluable contributor to Big Lots for well over a decade. TJ’s knowledge of retail operations and general business acumen have been crucial as we develop our strategic plan for the next three years. I am thrilled, and extremely proud, to announce a much deserved promotion."

Johnson will continue to report to Campisi.

News of Johnson’s promotion comes in conjunction with the company’s fourth-quarter results. Net sales for continuing U.S. operations for the quarter decreased 7.3% to $1.6 billion, compared to $1.7 billion for the fourth quarter last year. Comparable-store sales for U.S. stores open at least 15 months decreased 3% for the quarter.

Excluding the deferred tax benefit associated with the loss on the company’s investment in Canadian operations, adjusted income from continuing U.S. operations totaled $84 million, or $1.45 per diluted share for the quarter, which had 13 weeks. For the same period last year, which had an additional week, the company reported guidance of $1.40 to $1.55 per diluted share, and income from continuing U.S. operations of $119.9 million, or $2.08 per diluted share. The company estimates that the impact of the extra week last year was approximately $0.05 per diluted share.

Net loss for Canadian operations for the quarter totaled $27 million, or $0.47 per diluted share, which compares to the company’s guidance of a net loss of $0.65 to $0.75 per diluted share. The company explained that the favorable result in the fourth quarter resulted from higher sell-through of merchandise at better margins, lower operating expenses and the timing of recognition of lease liability charges and certain asset write downs.

Looking ahead, Big Lots forecasts first quarter income from continuing U.S. operations to be in the range of $0.40 to $0.45 per diluted share, compared to last year’s adjusted income from continuing U.S. operations of $0.70 per diluted share. This guidance assumes U.S. comparable-store sales are in a range of slightly positive to slightly negative.

The company anticipates a first-quarter loss as a result of its discontinued Canadian business, to be reported as discontinued operations beginning with the first quarter of fiscal 2014, in the range of $37 to $41 million, or $0.64 to $0.71 per diluted share. The estimate includes charges related to lease liabilities, severance and asset impairment.

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