FINANCE

Zara Reports Strong 2007

BY CSA STAFF

Madrid Inditex, the Spanish retail company that owns Zara, on Monday reported a 25% rise in 2007 net profit and said it is upbeat on sales figures for 2008.

The fast-growing company said net profit was 1.25 billion euros ($1.97 billion), ahead of analysts estimates, helped by a weaker dollar and strict cost control, Reuters reported.

Sales in the period grew 15% to $13.07 billion as Inditex aggressively opened stores in fast-growing markets from Russia to China.

Inditex said sales from Feb. 1 to March 23 increased 17% in local currencies, suggesting health among key fast-fashion players in a difficult market.

Last week, rival chain Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) of Sweden said its first-quarter profits gained 28%.

Inditex said it would continue to aggressively roll out stores, particularly in international markets, with $1.49 billion earmarked for expansion during the next 12 months.

Inditex opened 560 stores in 2007. It plans to open between 540 and 640 stores in 2008, with main growth markets including China, Japan and Korea, where it will open its first stores in April.

Inditex will also launch a freestanding accessories concept called Uterque in the second half of the year.

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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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