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Pier 1 seeking replacement for top marketing exec

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Pier 1, the struggling home decor retailer, announced it has terminated its top marketing executive and is seeking a replacement.

Phil Schneider, formerly executive vp-marketing for the company, was let go earlier this month, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Schneider had been with Pier 1 since 1986, when he was hired as director of advertising. He oversaw the company’s popular television ad campaign featuring actress Kirstie Alley.

Pier 1 has seen its sales and earnings decline heavily in the past two years, with several consecutive quarters of losses and an announcement by newly hired CEO Alex Smith that the company would cease airing television commercials in favor of Internet advertising and direct mail.

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Lowe’s lays off 205 at Florida distribution center

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Lowe’s has laid off 205 workers at an Osceola County, Fla., distribution center, according to an article in the Orlando Sentinel.

The job cuts account for about 20 percent of the total work force at the distribution center, which saw growth during the housing boom in Florida and increased demand for building materials because of hurricanes in the region. A spokesperson for Lowe’s told the newspaper the company sought other solutions outside a reduction in force and noted that the distribution center now employs about 700 people.

The distribution center supplies 96 retail stores in Florida and southern Georgia. At the company’s last earnings call, Lowe’s noted difficult year-over-year comparisons with hurricane-affected regions of the Gulf Coast and some Florida markets. Gulf Coast areas most impacted by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita reported negative 23 percent comparable-store sales.

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Comparable-store sales fall at Sears

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Sears Holdings announced today that domestic comparable-store sale for its second quarter fell 4.3 percent at Sears stores and 3.8 percent at the company’s Kmart stores. The company will release its official second-quarter results by Aug. 30.

Sears said it anticipates second-quarter net income of between $170 million and $185 million. Last month, the company forecast net income in the range of $160 million to $200 million. The company reported net income of $294 million in last year’s second quarter.

Since that earlier forecast, “the company has experienced higher markdowns, most notably within seasonal apparel categories,” according to a press release from Sears.

Sales fell “across most categories,” the company said, with some increases in consumer electronics, women’s apparel and footwear. The company saw a second-quarter pre-tax gain of $15 million from items including bankruptcy-related settlements and insurance recoveries on claims filed for property damaged by hurricanes during fiscal 2005.

Sears Holdings’ CEO Aylwin Lewis said while the company recognized the slowdown in the housing market contributed to declining sales, “we are disappointed with our second-quarter results.”

“We will work hard to improve our financial performance going forward,” Lewis said.

The company also said its board of directors approved a plan to buy back up to $1.5 billion of stock.

Sears is the fourth largest home channel retailer in the United States, according to HCN’s Top 500 list of home channel retailers, with 2006 home improvement sales of $10.7 billion.

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