REAL ESTATE

At Home store expansion on track amid 19th straight quarter of comp growth

BY Marianne Wilson

At Home reiterated its commitment to building out its store portfolio amid strong sales growth in its third quarter.

The value home goods retailer reported that its third-quarter net sales increased 25.5% to $267.2 million, driven by the net addition of 29 stores. Same-store sales rose 5.2%. It was the chain’s 19th consecutive quarter of same-store sales growth and 18th consecutive quarter of over 20% net sales growth.

On the chain’s earnings call, chairman and CEO Lee Bird said that, with a longer term potential of at least 600 locations, “new stores are the growth engine for this business.” The retailer currently operates 178 stores.

“Our robust and improving new store productivity reflects our growing awareness and appeal as well as the great execution by our entire team,” Bird said.

Nearly all of the company’s new locations for the upcoming year (fiscal 2020 for At Home) have been approved, Bird added, with 10 stores already under construction. Next year’s pipeline includes the chain’s entry into the West Coast, with stores in California and Washington.

“We expect next year’s mix to be similar to fiscal 2019 with approximately 80% second generation sites and 20% new store builds,” he said. “The second generation real estate environment has plenty of attractive opportunities.”

Net income increased to $11.1 million from $2.4 million in the third quarter of fiscal 2018. Earnings per share increased to $0.17 from $0.04; adjusted earnings per share increased to $0.18

“Alongside our topline performance, we delivered 280 basis points of gross margin expansion and reinvested in store labor hours and advertising, resulting in a 105% increase in operating income and a 61% increase in adjusted operating income,” said. Bird. “We also made progress on our key priorities aimed at strengthening both the customer experience and our superior value proposition.”

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REAL ESTATE

Shopko closing some stores amid report of restructuring

BY Marianne Wilson

Shopko Stores is downsizing its store portfolio.

The Wisconsin-based discounter plans to close 39 locations, with all but one operating under the Shopko Hometown banner. Liquidation sales are scheduled to start on Dec. 7, and the stores expected to close at the end of February.

The news about the closings follows a Debtwire report that said Shopko management is working with Kirkland & Ellis as legal counsel as its top-line buckles in a tumultuous retail environment and that the company is consulting with BRG for restructuring assistance.

According to Debtwire, Shopko’s earnings have been hamstrung by the consumer pullback in brick-and-mortar shopping. To offset top-line erosion, management has taken down costs by reducing SG&A. This past summer, Shopko asked for relief from a group of vendors to lower their cost of products by a mid-to-high single-digit percentage, Debtwire said.

Shopko currently operates 363 stores throughout the Central, Western and Pacific Northwest regions. In 2005, it was purchased by Sun Capital Partners.

Here is a list of the stores scheduled to shutter:
• Leadville, Colorado
• Buena Vista, Colorado
• Bonners Ferry, Idaho
• Dwight, Illinois
• Webster City, Iowa
• Cherokee, Iowa
• Eldora, Iowa
• Anthony, Kansas
• Russell, Kansas
• Phillipsburg, Kansas
• Clay Center, Kansas
• Lyons, Kansas
• Larned, Kansas
• Brandenburg, Kentucky
• Mahnomen, Minnesota
• Paynesville, Minnesota
• Albany, Missouri
• Plentywood, Montana
• Lincoln, Nebraska
• Ord, Nebraska
• Kimball, Nebraska
• Lovington, New Mexico
• Oakes, North Dakota
• Stanley, North Dakota
• Lisbon, North Dakota
• Mayville, North Dakota
• Fairview, Oklahoma
• Redfield, South Dakota
• Wagner, South Dakota
• Webster, South Dakota
• Dell Rapids, South Dakota
• Presidio, Texas
• Delta, Utah
• Nephi, Utah
• Blanding, Utah
• Beaver, Utah
• Spokane, Washington
• Mauston, Wisconsin
• Greybull, Wyoming

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Simon takes electric vehicle charging to next level

BY Marianne Wilson

Simon is helping customers charge their electric vehicles faster than ever before. It has installed an ultra-fast electric vehicle charging system at its San Francisco Premium Outlets.

Simon has installed an ultra-fast electric vehicle charging system at its San Francisco Premium Outlets, in Livermore, Calif. It is California’s first location for EV systems featuring super-fast recharging speeds up to 350 kilowatts (kW) from Electrify America. As part of its ongoing sustainability strategy, Simon teamed with Electrify America to open 10 DC fast chargers at San Francisco Premium Outlets for public use.

The charging site features eight 150 kW chargers and two 350 kW chargers. The 350 kW chargers are capable of recharging an electric vehicle at 20 miles a minute providing 200 miles of vehicle driving range in just 10 minutes.

“We are delighted to be the first location in California to offer EV owners the fastest charging option available in the U.S.,” said Jamal Porter, West Regional VP of management for Premium Outlets. “Our customers expect a premium experience and these fast chargers offer the latest technology to provide a convenient, reliable and quick recharging experience.”

The 10 Electrify America chargers are co-located with 20 Tesla Superchargers making San Francisco Premium Outlets one of the nation’s largest multi-standard fast charging sites.

In addition to San Francisco Premium Outlets, Electrify America will install charging systems at Simon locations nationwide including 17 centers in California, with 95 additional chargers.

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