Sears Holdings to close 100-plus stores
Hoffman Estates, Ill.-based Sears Holdings plans to close 100 to 120 Kmart and Sears full-line stores after reporting a disappointing recent performance. The Tuesday morning announcement — contained in a press release titled "Sears Holdings Provides Update" — reported a 5.2% comp-store sales decline for the quarter-to-date period, and a 2.6% decline in the year-to-date period, ended Dec. 25.
At Sears Domestic, slow moving consumer electronics and home appliances were leading causes of declines. At Kmart, consumer electronics and apparel were slow. Big-ticket items continue to perform poorly.
It remains unclear which stores will be closed; the company said it will post a list when the final determination is made.
Closing stores is one of several actions the company said it is putting in place. The moves are designed to "reduce on-going expenses, adjust our asset base and accelerate the transformation of our business model," said CEO Lou D’Ambrosio.
"These actions will better enable us to focus our investments on serving our customers and members through integrated retail — at the store, online and in the home," he added.
Excluding the effect of store closures, Sears expects to reduce 2012 peak domestic inventory by $300 million from the 2011 level of $10.2 billion at the end of the third quarter as a result of cost decreases in apparel, tighter buys and a lower inventory position at the beginning of the fiscal year.
It also intends to focus on improving gross profit dollars through better inventory management and more targeted pricing and promotion.
The company also intends to reduce fixed costs by $100 to $200 million.
According to the company, the store closing move reflects a change in strategy. "While our past practice has been to keep marginally performing stores open while we worked to improve their performance, we no longer believe that to be the appropriate action in this environment," the announcement read.
The company’s 2011 performance will cause a fourth-quarter asset write-down of $1.6 billion to $1.8 billion.
Virginia looks at new regs on fireplaces
An advisory group to the ANSI Board of Standards has recommended that gas fireplaces or heaters with glass fronts contain a barrier to protect children or other at-risk individuals.
The CSA – America Vented Heater Technical Advisory Group met in Cleveland on Dec. 13 and approved the language for a revised standard, which now goes to ANSI committees for review.
If ultimately approved, a gas fireplace or gas heater must include a certified barrier if the temperature of the glass front can exceed 172 degrees F. The Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA) supports this revision and is committed to educating homeowners on safety precautions when using their fireplaces and other home heating products.
“Safety is our first priority, and we want people to enjoy the warmth and ambiance of their fireplaces and stoves, but be reminded that they can get hot,” said Jack Goldman, president and CEO of HPBA. “Children are by nature curious and need to be protected from hot surfaces.”
In 2007, HPBA developed an internationally recognized warning symbol for manufacturers and retailers of gas fireplaces and gas heaters to inform homeowners that glass fronts can become extremely hot due to their high efficiency, and precautions should be taken.
Shoplifting task force shows results in Rhode Island
A collaboration between a Rhode Island police department and area merchants showed positive results with a dip in retail crime this month, according to an article in the Woonsocket Patch.
Woonsocket police, along with law enforcement officers from other parts of the state, worked closely with loss prevention specialists on specified dates to enforce shoplifting laws, identify organized retail crime and identify fencing operations. Retailers participating in the operation included Lowe’s, Sears, CVS Caremark, Walgreens, Rite Aid and Burlington Coat Factory, as well as the Ocean State Job Lot.
As part of the operation, nicknamed “Holiday Blitz,” loss prevention specialists patrolled the stores and detectives monitored the parking lots. If an arrest was made, detectives would interview the suspect immediately. As a result of the partnership there was a decrease in shoplifting compared with the same time last year. The initiative also fostered a continuing partnership with the Woonsocket Police Department and retail merchants.