FINANCE

Whole Foods investors to vote on board removal rule

BY CSA STAFF

Austin, Texas Whole Foods Market investors will vote on Monday on a proposal that would make it easier for shareholders to oust a director whose conduct they deem inappropriate.

According to a report by Reuters, the shareholder resolution from Amalgamated Bank’s LongView Funds would roll back a bylaw change that Whole Foods directors put in place a few months after the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission closed an investigation into the online chat activities of chairman and CEO John Mackey in April 2008.

The proposal before the company’s annual meeting in Vancouver seeks a bylaw change to permit shareholders to remove a director either “with or without cause.” The bylaws now require that a cause be given.

“The ability for shareholders to remove a director with or without cause helps investors promote accountability among our elected directors,” said Scott Zdrazil, director of corporate governance for Amalgamated Bank, whose LongView Fund holds 66,830 Whole Foods shares.

Whole Foods’ board unanimously recommended that investors vote against the proposal from Amalgamated.

The SEC probe centered on Mackey’s anonymous comments on a Yahoo financial chat forum from 1999 to 2006 in which he trumpeted Whole Foods’ performance while disparaging then-rival Wild Oats Markets. Whole Foods bought Wild Oats for $565 million in 2007. The SEC ultimately decided to take no action against Whole Foods and Mackey.

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Jo-Ann celebrates craft month with in-store events

BY CSA STAFF

HUDSON, Ohio Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores announced that it is celebrating national craft month this March with special in-store demonstrations and new projects.

“This year, Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores is encouraging people to take time to craft a memory,” notes Brent Beebe, VP crafts. “With 63 million households crafting each year, we feel this theme reminds people what crafting can be—a memorable gathering of family or friends, or an individual artistic endeavor. It’s about the process as well as the project.”

The demonstrations will include wedding favors, papercrafting and Easter foam projects.

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Pier 1 Imports reports 4Q sales growth

BY CSA STAFF

FORT WORTH, Texas Pier 1 Imports reported that total sales for the fourth quarter were $396 million compared with $389 million for the same period last year. Comparable-store sales for the fourth quarter increased 6.5%. Total sales for the fiscal year were $1.29 billion compared with $1.32 billion last year. Comparable-store sales for the year increased 1.5%.

For the fourth quarter, Pier 1 said it anticipates that reported merchandise margins will be better than expected at approximately 55.7%, compared to 44.3% reported last year. Reported earnings per share are expected to be at least 29 cents per share compared with a loss of 33 cents last year.

 

Alex Smith, president and CEO, stated, “We are proud of our fourth quarter performance, which began with an extremely successful holiday selling season. We knew that the strength of December sales, the resulting seasonal sell-through, and the lower level of markdown inventory would shorten the Pier 1 sale. However, we were able to more than offset the pressure on sales in January with a very strong merchandise margin improvement. Our quarter ended with strong sales and margin in February, despite the extreme weather conditions experienced in many parts of the country. The increase in margin rate during the quarter is attributable not only to less clearance merchandise but also to our initial markups which remained strong.”

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