FINANCE

Zale Corp. to Close 115 Stores

BY CSA STAFF

Dallas Zale Corp. plans to close 115 under-performing stories and cut 245 jobs after posting a net loss for its fiscal second quarter, which ended Jan. 31.

The company said it expects to save about $34 million in expenses through fiscal 2010 with the reduction in the number of Zales stores, which will be closed as leases mature.

Zale Corp. plans to slash $175 million from its budget through cost and inventory reductions, including the elimination of 245 jobs. Of those job cuts, 75 were unfilled positions, according to the company.

Zale Corp. posted a loss of $23.6 million, down from a profit of $60.8 million during the same quarter last year. The company attributes its loss partly to charges related to goodwill impairments and $5 million in expenses tied to store impairments.

Sales during the quarter hit $679 million, a 17.9% decline from $828 million in the year-ago period.

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NRF backs legislation to prevent organized retail theft

BY CSA STAFF

WASHINGTON The National Retail Federation welcomed legislation intended to help law enforcement fight the $30 billion-a-year problem of organized retail crime, saying introduction comes at a time when the nation’s economic crisis has more shoppers turning to “bargain” merchandise they might not realize is stolen or tainted.

“Organized retail crime is a rapidly growing problem, especially as challenging economic times increase the market for stolen merchandise,” NRF VP loss prevention Joseph LaRocca said. “Retailers already struggling to survive are seeing their inventory disappear in increasing amounts, and the goods end up at flea markets or on the Internet at prices that put temptation into the path of cash-strapped consumers trying to stretch every dollar. Losses from these crimes ultimately drive up the price of legitimate merchandise at a time when consumers can least afford it, and do serious damage to our nation’s already weakened economy. The legislation being introduced today shows that Congress is ready to stop treating the perpetrators of ORC like petty shoplifters and recognize them for the professional criminals they really are.”

Three major bills on ORC were introduced today: the Combating Organized Retail Crime Act of 2009, sponsored by Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin, D-Ill.; the Organized Retail Crime Act of 2009, sponsored by Representative Brad Ellsworth, D-Ind.; and the E-Fencing Enforcement Act of 2009, sponsored by House Judiciary Committee Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security Subcommittee Chairman Bobby Scott, D-Va. The measures are similar to legislation first introduced last summer.

All three bills would address organized retail crime, in which groups of professional thieves steal merchandise from stores on a large scale and resell the goods in venues ranging from flea markets to the Internet. ORC rings typically target consumer items that are in high demand but easy to steal like infant formula, razor blades, cosmetics and gift cards, along with more expensive items such as DVDs, CDs, video games, electronics or designer clothing. In addition to the financial loss, ORC can present a public health hazard because items like infant formula or over-the-counter medications might be improperly stored or mislabeled.

While the bills offer different approaches to combating ORC, taken together they would define ORC as a federal crime for the first time, require review and necessary amendments of federal sentencing guidelines for criminals convicted of ORC, require operators of online auction sites to cooperate with retailers and law enforcement officials in their investigations of ORC, and, in some cases, hold auction sites responsible for the sale of stolen merchandise that could have been prevented.

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Winn-Dixie to donate portion of frozen food sales to Feeding America

BY CSA STAFF

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. Winn-Dixie invites its customers to celebrate Frozen Food Month in a unique way — by making a difference in the lives of those less fortunate. When shoppers purchase select frozen food items, a portion of the sales will support Feeding America — The Nation’s Food Bank Network.

Products from Gorton’s, SeaPak and Bird’s Eye Foods will help fund the donation, which will be divided among Feeding America food banks within Winn-Dixie’s operating areas of Florida and parts of Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.

“Because of the down economy, we continue to experience a significant increase in the number of families and individuals needing our help,” said Wayne Rieley, executive director of Second Harvest Food Bank of North Florida, on behalf of Feeding America. “As quickly as the food arrives on our shelves, it is moving out. It is a challenge to meet the demand. We urge the community to join in Winn-Dixie’s effort to help our neighbors.”

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