REAL ESTATE

Wolverine Worldwide to close 140 stores as part of right-sizing in an omnichannel age

BY Marianne Wilson

Rockford, Mich. — Wolverine Worldwide said it plans to close about 140 stores, primarily under the Stride Rite banner, over the next 18 months as part of a strategic realignment plan to accelerate growth and improve overall profitability. About 60 stores will close by the end of the current fiscal year, with the rest to be shuttered by the end of 2015.

Wolverine said the realignment of its consumer-direct business is intended to optimize the fleet of retail locations, right-size the supporting infrastructure, address a fundamental shift in consumer shopping behavior and allow for greater focus on important omni-channel initiatives. The plan is expected to result in a pre-tax charge of $30 million to $37 million – including $13 million to $15 million in non-cash charges – that the company will record between now and the end of the 2015 fiscal year.

"The Strategic Realignment Plan announced today is an important step in the evolution of the Company’s consumer-direct operations to meet the changing behavior of today’s consumer," stated Blake W. Krueger, company’s chairman and CEO. "We are confident that these actions will set a new foundation for our consumer-direct business, help position our company for future growth and increase shareholder value."

Wolverine also reported that its fiscal second-quarter profit rose 54%. For the quarter ended June 14, the company reported earnings of $27.5 million, up from $17.9 million a year earlier.Revenue increased 4.4% to $613.5 million.

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FINANCE

Retail sales inch up 0.2% in June, dragged down by drop in auto sales

BY Marianne Wilson

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New York — U.S. retail sales inched up 0.2% in June, after an upwardly revised 0.5% rise in May, the Commerce Department said Tuesday.

While the increase was less than expected, due mainly to an unexpected decline in auto sales, sales rose in nine of 13 major retail categories. Removing automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food service sales, retail sales were up a solid 0.6% in June.

Sales at apparel and accessories stores increased 0.8%. Sales at general merchandise stores rose 1.1%. Online and catalog retailers posted a 0.9% increase in June.

Sales at sporting goods shops rose 0.6% and sales at electronics and appliances stores gained 0.1%

But sales at building materials and garden equipment suppliers fell 1.0%.

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FINANCE

Aaron’s to close 44 stores in Q3

BY Dan Berthiaume

Atlanta – Aaron’s Inc. on Tuesday said it plans to close 44 underperforming stores in the third quarter of fiscal 2014 and continue other cost-reduction initiatives in response to disappointing core business performance. The electronics, furniture and appliances rentals retailer also revised its earnings guidance downward for the second quarter.

The company praised the performance of its recently purchased Progressive Finance unit.

“With that said, we are disappointed with our core business results and are taking aggressive action to respond to the challenging economic environment and the evolving industry in which we operate,” said Ronald W. Allen, CEO, Aaron’s. “We recently undertook a comprehensive and detailed review of opportunities for shareholder value creation and continue to believe that by implementing targeted strategies, we can grow the core business.”

Aaron’s currently has more than 2,130 company-operated and franchised stores in 48 states and Canada.

Aaron’s said it is focusing on five key areas to position the company for long-term growth and profitability. These include same-store revenue growth, the online platform, cost efficiency to recapture margin, targeted new store growth, and the franchisee network.

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