FINANCE

Wilsons Leather CEO to Resign

BY CSA STAFF

Minneapolis Wilsons The Leather Experts Inc. said Friday its chief executive Michael Searles will resign, on or about Thursday.

Searles, 58, will provide consulting services to the company for six months. He became CEO in December 2004. The company said in a statement Searles decided for both personal and professional reasons that the time is right for a leadership transition.

Wilsons has faced declining sales for years, which has been exacerbated by a weak retail environment.

In February the company said it would close the majority of its 260 mall locations and cut more than 1,000 jobs in an effort to improve performance.

In March, the company said its fiscal 2007 net loss widened to $96.8 million, or $2.46 per share, from a loss of $33.1 million, or 85? per share in the prior year. Revenue fell 13% to $280.4 million from $321.3 million.

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Giant Eagle alleges chocolate price fixing

BY CSA STAFF

PITTSBURGH According to reports, Giant Eagle has filed suit against a number of chocolate manufacturers, claiming that it was overcharged for products. The company alleges that during the period between 2002 and 2007, it was overcharged for $200 million worth of chocolate products.

The company has named some major players in the suit, including Hershey, Mars and Cadbury Schweppes. According to reports, the suit is not the first to claim overcharging by chocolate manufacturers.

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Sears to sell more appliances at Kmart

BY CSA STAFF

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. Sears Holdings, according to its annual report, plans to sell appliances at more of its Kmart stores and will open more dealer stores this year.

The company also said in its annual report filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that it expects capital spending this year to be flat with last year’s level.

In the filing, Sears Holdings said it “will continue to explore opportunities to profitably cross-merchandise products and services” between its Kmart and Sears stores.

That includes continuing to roll out home appliances, such as those in Sears’ proprietary Kenmore brand, to more Kmart stores, Appliances, a category in which Sears is the dominant U.S. retailer, accounted for about 15% of company revenues during fiscal 2007, the filing said.

As of Feb. 2, the end of fiscal 2007, about 280 Kmart stores were selling major home appliances, the filing said. At the end of fiscal 2005, about 100 Kmart stores were selling Sears-branded products such as tools and appliances.

The company said it opened 40 dealer stores during fiscal 2007, and would open more in rural and urban areas this year. Sears has 857 dealer stores, which sell appliances, electronics, lawn and garden equipment, hardware and car batteries.

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