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J.C. Penney had a happy holiday

BY Marianne Wilson

J.C. Penney reported surprisingly robust — and much better than expected — sales for the just-passed holiday season.

The department store chain on Thursday reported a 3.4% same-store sales increase for the nine weeks ending Dec. 30, 2017, and reaffirmed its full-year guidance. Analysts had expected same-store sales growth of 0.8%.

“After an extended period of weaker performance and downgraded expectations, these holiday results come as something of a relief and should help to ease fears that JCP is in terminal decline,” commented Anthony Riva, analyst at GlobalData Retail. “While the uplift came off the back of a soft 0.8% drop in sales last year, the fact that there has been growth across the categories JCP has been improving is a justification of the strategies Marvin Ellison and his team have been pursuing.”

Penney said its holiday sales were led by home, beauty and fine jewelry, while its apparel categories continued to demonstrate improved comp performance, particularly in women’s and kids. Its e-commerce business saw double-digit sales growth, largely driven by gifting categories such as fine jewelry, home decor and luggage, toys, boots and athletic footwear.

“Our ability to execute e-commerce fulfillment from 100% of our brick and mortar stores helped fuel the growth in e-commerce for the holiday season,” said Penney chairman and CEO Marvin R. Ellison. “We remain confident that our strategic initiatives are taking hold and resonating with customers.”

Penney reaffirmed its previous guidance for full-year fiscal 2017 adjusted earnings per share of 2 cents to 8 cents and flat to a 1% same-store sales decline.

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Rite Aid beats estimates as Q3 profit soars

BY Marianne Wilson

Rite Aid Corp. on Wednesday posted a big jump in quarterly profit as the drug store retailer benefited from its ongoing sale of 1,932 stores to Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc.

Net income rose to $81.03 million, or 8 cents per share, in the quarter ended Dec. 2, from $15.01 million, or 1 cent per share, in the year-ago period. Analysts had projected a loss of two cents per share.

Total revenue fell 5.6% to $5.4 billion from $5.7 billion last year. Same-store sales fell 2.5%, consisting of a 3.5% decline pharmacy sales and a 0.5% decrease in front-end sales.

“The third quarter was a busy time for our team in preparing for and beginning the transfer of stores and related assets to Walgreens Boots Alliance,” said Rite Aid chairman and CEO John Standley. “To date, we have transferred 357 stores and have received approximately $715 million in proceeds, which we have used to pay down debt. Looking forward, in addition to completing the transfer process, we will continue to focus on our most significant business-building opportunities as we work together to deliver a great experience to our customers and patients.”

In the third quarter, the company sold 97 stores to Walgreens and closed seven stores, resulting in a total store count of 4,404 at the end of the third quarter.

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Pier I taps retail vet to head up finance

BY Marianne Wilson

Pier 1 Imports has found its new CFO.

The home décor retailer appointed the appointment of Nancy A. Walsh, 57, as executive VP and CFO, effective January 25, 2018. Darla D. Ramirez will step down as interim CFO when Walsh’s appointment becomes effective. She will continue to serve as the company’s principal accounting officer and VP – controller of the company’s operating subsidiaries.

Walsh joins Pier 1 from The Bon-Ton Stores, where she served as executive VP and CFO since 2015. Previously, she spent 14 years in the finance organization at Tapestry (formerly Coach), including serving as senior VP, finance, a role she held for six years. Earlier in her career, Walsh held positions in finance and treasury with Viacom and Timberland Company.

“Nancy comes to Pier 1 Imports with an extensive background in finance and retail,” said Alasdair James, president and CEO, Pier I Imports. “She has spent the better part of her 30-year career amidst iconic brands, home furnishings and specialty retail. We are confident Nancy has the financial skills and leadership needed to drive the strategic plans we’re presently developing.”

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