FINANCE

Whole Foods Q4 income surges 31%

BY Marianne Wilson

Austin, Texas — Whole Foods Market reported that its fiscal fourth-quarter profit rose 31% to $75.5 million on higher sales, beating analysts’ expectations. But the company’s outlook for next year’s profit fell just short of what analysts forecast on average.

Revenue increased 12% to $2.35 billion.

"Our outlook for fiscal year 2012 reflects consistent identical store sales growth, a record number of new store openings, EBITDA of close to $1 billion, and significant operating margin improvement,” said John Mackey, co-founder and co-chief executive officer of Whole Foods Market.

For all of fiscal 2011, Whole Foods reported net income of $342.6 million, compared with $245.8 million in fiscal 2010. Revenue in 2011 was $10.1 billion, compared with $9 billion in 2010.

The chain opened five stores, including two relocations, in the fourth quarter and has opened five stores so far in the first quarter. It expects to open one additional store in the first quarter. IT currently has 316 stores totaling approximately 12 million sq. ft.

Whole Foods said it recently signed nine new leases averaging 32,100 square feet in size in Phoenix; Tucson, Ariz.; Davis, Calf.; Littleton, Col.; Tallahassee, Fla.; Tulsa, Oak.; Addison, Texas; Katy, Texas; and London, England. These stores are scheduled to open in fiscal year 2012 and beyond.

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News

Sears and Kmart introduces ‘mobile shopping walls’ for holiday shopping

BY Staff Writer

Hoffman Estates, Ill. — Sears and Kmart stores are debuting “mobile shopping walls” in high-traffic areas to reach customers who are traveling or on-the-go during the holiday season. The walls, which feature top toys from Sears and Kmart, provide Quick Response codes for each item so that customers can make purchases directly from their smartphones, giving customers an innovative and efficient way to accomplish their holiday shopping.

The Sears Toy Shop mobile walls are features in select malls across the country. The Kmart Fab 15 walls will also be accessible in movie theater lobbies in major markets, such as Boston and Los Angeles. Additionally, shoppers can find the Sears and Kmart mobile walls in airports in Chicago, Dallas, Denver and Puerto Rico, and at bus shelters nationwide, so that customers can transform their wait time into productive time.

The virtual shopping destinations allow customers to use QR codes to identify product information, imagery and pricing to make purchases from airports, malls, movie theaters and bus shelters around the country.

"Our mobile shopping walls are not only convenient because of their unexpected locations, but they offer easy shipping options as well," said Julia Fitzgerald, chief digital engagement officer, toys and sporting goods for Sears Holdings. "Our goal is to make holiday shopping so simple that customers can find the perfect gift while they are traveling or going about their daily lives, and have them waiting at their doorstep when they arrive home."

Last month, Sears began rolling out Apple iPads and iPod Touch devices in nearly 450 Sears and Kmart stores for associates to help customers check inventory, access product information and order products online from anywhere in the store.

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OPERATIONS

Express CEO takes on chairman’s job

BY Staff Writer

Columbus, Ohio — Express said Thursday that its CEO, Michael Weiss, will also take over the role of board chairman, because of the current chairman’s involvement in a rival company.

Weiss succeeds Stefan Kaluzny in the chairman’s job. Kaluzny joined Express’ board when the private equity firm where he worked, Golden Gate Capital, bought Limited Brands in 2007. Kaluzny has since joined another private equity firm, Sycamore Partners, which recently brought a controlling stake in Mast Global Fashions, which is Limited Brands’ apparel sourcing division.

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