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Whole Foods profit soars 32% in Q3; on track in goal toward 1,000 stores

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Austin, Texas — Whole Foods Market said it continues its forward march, posting a profit of $116.8 million for the quarter ended July 1, a rise of 32% over last year’s quarterly results. Sales for the quarter surged 14% to $2.7 billion, and same-store sales increased 8%.

"Our accelerated growth plans are on track, and we believe we will continue to gain market share through further differentiating our shopping experience, improving our relative value positioning, and reinforcing our position as America’s healthiest grocery store," said co-CEO Walter Robb.

The grocer opened a record nine new stores in the third quarter, one in the fourth and plans another six by fiscal year end – bringing this year’s total to 25 new stores. Twelve new leases have been signed and the company maintains it is on track to grow the chain to 1,000 stores from its current 369 count.

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Housing still hurting, but DIY looks good

BY CSA STAFF

Weak housing data notwithstanding, plenty of people spent money fixing up their homes this spring judging by the results of select retailers with exposure to the home improvement market.

Lumber Liquidators, operator of 277 specialty flooring stores, said it second-quarter sales increased nearly 20% to $210 million and same-store sales increased 12.4%. The company also saw a dramatic improvement in the profitability of those sales as gross margins expanded to 37.3% from 34% the prior year. Total profits more than doubled to $12.2 million, or 43 cents a share, compared with $5.3 million, or 19 cents a share the prior year.

Buoyed by a strong start to the first half of the year, the company increased its full year sales and profit forecast by a wide margin on the same day that the U.S. Commerce Department reported weaker-than-expected sales of new home. Sales of new, single-family homes in June fell 8.4% to a seasonally adjusted 350,000 unit annual rate. That figure was below a Commerce Department estimate that put the May annual rate at 382,000. Government statistics also estimated there were 144,000 new homes for sale at the end of June, or nearly a five months supply of inventory at the current rate of sale.

The bleak news on the housing front didn’t deter Lumber Liquidators from increasing its full year sales target to a range of $750 million to $775 million, up from the previous range of $720 million to $750 million. The company also increased its full year profit forecast to a range of $1.30 to $1.42 compared to a prior range of $1.10 to $1.25.

“We believe Lumber Liquidators is successfully navigating through what remains a challenging and uncertain retail environment, particularly for large-ticket, discretionary purchases,” said Robert Lynch, president and CEO. “Our value proposition continues to resonate well with consumers, and as we look toward both the back half of the current year and into the next, we are confident in our ability to continue to drive traffic, improve our operations, expand our operating margin and grow our footprint.”

The company opened 14 new stores during the first half of the year and plans a total of 20 to 25 units for the full year.

Lumber Liquidators is benefitting from the repair and remodel trend as people stay in their homes and look to spruce up flooring. The same phenomenon is impacting the nations leading paint retailer, which reported stellar results last week. The Sherwin-Williams Company said sales at during the quarter ended June 30 increased 14.6% to nearly $1.5 billion at the company’s 4,000 unit paint stores group. Operating profit increased more than 29% to $267 million and same store sales increased 13.9% as the company was successful in raising prices to offset increased raw material costs.
“We are continuing to invest in our business. In the first six months, Paint Stores Group opened 20 net new locations. For the year, we expect our Paint Stores Group to open 60 to 65 new stores,” said Sherwin-Williams chairman and CEO Christopher Connor.

The strong results from Sherwin-Williams and Lumber Liquidators comes as the National Association of the Remodeling Industry reports in its quarterly survey that remodelers expect to see stronger sales in the next three months. Part of their reason for optimism is due to pent up demand, but low interest rates are helping with financing as well. The remodelers surveyed by the trade group said they are seeing an increased number of inquiries, requests for bids and a higher conversion rate.

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Chick-Fil-A’s views hinder real estate deals

BY Katherine Boccaccio

I make no political, ethical, religious or moral statement here. I am a journalist, and I have no right – or desire – to espouse my personal viewpoints in this forum.

That said, this is an interesting piece that fully illustrates how a chain’s – or its owner’s – personal beliefs can potentially hamper its ability to grow.

I can’t help but wonder if we’ll see more of these types of reports, especially as it appears that, in Chicago at least, some precedent could be set.

Click here
to read for yourself.


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