Wal-Mart reports sales decline in Q4
Wal-Mart Stores posted its seventh straight quarterly sales decline, falling short of its own projections for the holiday period.
Still, the Bentonville, Ark.-based retail giant reported Tuesday that earnings for the quarter ended Jan. 31 jumped 27% as its international stores posted strong results. Wal-Mart’s profit rose to $6.06 billion, compared with $4.76 billion a year earlier. Revenue climbed 2.5% to $115.6 billion but the gains came from Wal-Mart’s international operations. U.S. sales at the namesake Walmart unit fell 0.5% to $71.1 billion, and were down 1.8% on a comparable-store basis. Wall Street had expected a 0.8% increase.
"Some of the pricing and merchandising issues in Wal-Mart ran deeper than we initially expected, and they require a response that will take time to see results," CEO and President Mike Duke said in a statement.
Going forward, the chain said it plans to focus on everyday low prices on a basket of goods, feature the broadest assortment possible and remodel Walmart stores and focus on multichannel selling to spur U.S. sales.
Proving its international strength, Wal-Mart reported fourth quarter international sales rose 8.9% to $31.4 billion, helped by particularly strong sales in Brazil, China and Mexico. Profit increased 7.1%.
However at its U.S. business, sales slid 0.5%, the second quarterly decline in a row. At Sam’s Club, revenue rose 4.4%.
Duke said in a recorded conference call Tuesday that the chain would move forward "with even greater urgency in opening small stores." The company said that it plans to open its first Walmart Express stores in the second quarter.
The company also noted during the prerecorded call that rising inflation in key raw materials such as cotton is pushing it to consolidate suppliers to improve purchasing power.
SafeLawns.org founder promotes living soil
Edison, N.J. — American lawns don’t need to be dandelion-free, says the founder of SafeLawns.org. It’s much better for them to be healthy for children and other living things.
That’s one of the many green-minded messages Paul Tukey delivered to a small group during the New Jersey Flower & Garden Show here. Tukey is founder of the non-profit pro-environment organization SafeLawns.org
"If people want to care for their landscape naturally, they have to embrace the idea that soil is living," he said.
While he still thinks retailers should do more in terms of banning harmful pesticides from their store shelves, he said he was encouraged by the growth in the consumer demand for organic lawn care products. What was close to 0% penetration about 10 years ago has risen to about 10% of the market today. In some areas, use of organic lawn care products has risen to about 50% he said.
Tukey also promoted the cost-benefit of the organic lawn care. Although organic lawns are about 20% more expensive to maintain initially, they are less expensive over time. In five years, he said, organic lawns are about half the cost to maintain than chemically enhanced lawns.
"The way I explain it is this: Organic lawn care is an annuity," he said.
Home Depot names new chief marketing officer
Advertising Age, citing an internal announcement, has reported that VP and chief marketing officer Frank Bifulco has been replaced by former VP advertising Trish Mueller. Bifulco was with the Atlanta retailer for almost three years.
Mueller joined Home Depot in 2009 after serving as senior VP marketing and advertising at Sports Authority and VP advertising at American Signature.
A veteran of Procter & Gamble and Coca-Cola, Bifulco also worked for Hasbro North America and Timberland. At Home Depot, he was put in charge of strategic marketing initiatives, as well as category marketing and brand development. During his tenure, the company introduced the "More saving. More doing" advertising tagline.