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Dale Pond named to media company board

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Dale Pond, the former Lowe’s executive, will join the board of Scripps Networks Interactive. The new board is being formed as E.W. Scripps, which encompasses cable networks, newspapers, broadcast television stations, electronic commerce and interactive media services, splits into two publicly traded companies on July 1.

Scripps Network Interactive will include cable TV channels such as HGTV and The Food Network as well as online businesses (shopping portals like Shopzilla).

Aformer executive at Payless Cashways and other home improvement retailers, Pond worked at Lowe’s for 12 years before retiring in 2005 as the executive vp-merchandising and marketing.

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Lowe’s comp-store sales down 8.4 percent

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Like most home channel companies struggling with low consumer confidence and a downtrodden housing market, Lowe’s recorded a weaker fiscal first quarter, according to financial results released today.

Earnings declined 17.9 percent to $607 million, down from $739 million in the same period last year. Sales fell 1.3 percent to $12 billion from $12.2 billion in last year’s first quarter.

Comparable-store sales declined a full 8.4 percent.

“The challenging sales environment we have been experiencing for the past six quarters continued into the first quarter of 2008, and increasing financial pressures on consumers resulted in top-line sales that fell below our plan,” said Robert Niblock, Lowe’s chairman and CEO, in a statement.

Niblock said the “generally poor economic outlook,” alongside housing pressures, rising fuel costs, a “more negative employment picture” and higher food prices all contributed to weak consumer confidence that hurt the retailer. Those negative factors also hurt “discretionary purchases for the home,” he said.

Still, “Lowe’s continued to gain market share in the quarter, and diligent expense control helped us achieve respectable earnings in spite of the headwinds facing the industry,” Niblock said.

In the first quarter, Lowe’s opened 20 new stores. As of May 2, the retailer operated 1,554 stores in the United States and Canada.

In the second quarter, the company said it expects to open 23 new stores. Lowe’s projects a sales increase of about 1 percent in the second quarter, alongside a comparable-store sales decline of 6 percent to 8 percent.

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IKEA to go digital in ‘Sims’ game

BY HBSDEALER Staff

IKEA has stumbled upon a unique promotion opportunity, with the announcement the Swedish home goods retailer will now offer furnishings in the virtual life video game “Sims 2.”

The game allows users to take charge of virtual people, and in the new version of the program by EA Inc., consumers in North America, Europe and Asia will also be able to “buy” virtual IKEA items for their game characters, including furniture, storage items and wall art.

The additional software package, which will retail for around $20, will be available in late June.

Privately owned IKEA currently operates more than 230 stores in 24 countries.

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