FINANCE

Wet Seal says it was targeted by credit card ring

BY CSA STAFF

Foothill Ranch, Calif. Wet Seal Inc. said it was one of the retailers targeted by a credit card data theft ring in 2008 involving computer hacker Albert Gonzalez, who was sentenced to prison Friday.

The company said Monday that it learned the group had gained unauthorized access to its systems to try to take customers’ credit and debit card data. Wet Seal said no evidence was found that the individuals actually obtained any customer data.

“The security of our customer’s personal information is of utmost importance to us, and we acted quickly and decisively when this matter arose two years ago. We are pleased that time has proven, as we believed from the outset, that none of our customer information was taken,” president and CEO Ed Thomas said in a statement.

Gonzalez was sentenced to 20 years and a day in prison for his role in the data thefts, but a Massachusetts judge ordered that the term run concurrently with a 20-year term he already received from a different judge Thursday in two related cases.

Friday’s sentencing involved the theft of credit card numbers from Hannaford Bros., 7-Eleven and Heartland Payment Systems, a New Jersey-based card payment processor.

Thursday’s sentence stemmed from two cases that were combined and involved major retailers including TJX Cos., BJ’s Wholesale Club, Barnes & Noble, OfficeMax and the restaurant chain Dave & Buster’s.

Prosecutors said tens of millions of credit and debit cards numbers were stolen, costing the companies, banks and insurers nearly $200 million.

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Books-A-Million offering special deals for educators

BY CSA STAFF

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. Books-A-Million announced that all Books-A-Million stores will be hosting Educators’ Day on Saturday, April 17. The Books-A-Million Educators’ Day will be a special day for educators with extra savings, exclusive offers and prizes and free food and beverages. the company reported.

In addition, Books-A-Million announced that from April 17 through April 23, educators will also receive 25% off their classroom purchases with their Books-A-Million Educator Discount Card.

 

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Cost Plus improves comps, earnings

BY CSA STAFF

OAKLAND, Calif. Cost Plus reported that net sales for the fourth quarter ended Jan. 30 were $320 million, a 4.6% decrease from the $335.4 million in net sales for the fourth quarter ended Jan. 31, 2009. Same-store sales for the fourth quarter decreased 2.5% compared with a 6.1% decrease last year.

Net sales for fiscal 2009 were $869.5 million, an 8.6% decrease from $950.9 million in fiscal 2008. For fiscal 2009, same-store sales decreased 7.1% driven by a reduction in the average ticket, the company reported.

 

Barry Feld, president and CEO commented, “We are pleased with the return to profitability in our most important quarter. The company’s core competency in unique and affordable seasonal gift-giving and entertaining products, augmented with a new customer acquisition campaign, reversed the negative trend in customer count and drove significantly more profitable sales in the quarter than a year ago.”

 

Net income on a GAAP basis for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2009 was $21.1 million or 95 cents per diluted share versus a loss of $18.3 million or 83 cents per diluted share for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2008. Net loss for fiscal 2009 was $63.3 million or $2.87 per diluted share compared with a net loss of $102.7 million or $4.65 per diluted share last year.

 

For the first quarter of fiscal 2010, the company expects net sales in the range of $185 million to $188 million, based on a same-store sales increase in the range of 3% to 5%.

 

For the first quarter of fiscal 2010, the company is projecting a loss from continuing operations before interest and taxes in the range of $11 million to $13 million versus a loss of $22.3 million for the first quarter of fiscal 2009.

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