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Oh, Canada! Target unveils first stores up north

BY Allison Cerra

MINNEAPOLIS — Target revealed Thursday the locations of the first 24 Canadian stores.

Target said the stores will open in March/early April 2013 and will be located in Brampton, Mississauga and Toronto, among others. Additional locations will be announced in the coming months.

As previously reported, Target purchased the leasehold interests of 189 sites currently operated by Zellers, and is slated to open 125 to 135 stores in Canada, the majority of which will open in 2013. Approximately $10 million to $11 million will be invested to remodel each facility, the retailer said.

“We are excited to announce the location of these first 24 Target stores in Ontario,” Target Canada president Tony Fisher said. “In addition to providing Canadian guests with an exceptional shopping experience, Target looks forward to continuing our strong reputation of being a good neighbor in the Canadian communities in which we will do business.”

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Family Dollar seeks gold in California

BY Mike Troy

MATTHEWS, N.C. — Momentum remains on the side of Family Dollar, as the company late Thursday reported another quarter of record sales and profits and the opening of 101 units, which included its first stores in California.

Family Dollar said earnings per share increased 17.2% to 68 cents, a penny better than analysts’ forecast, compared with 58 cents the prior-year first quarter, and same-store sales increased 4.1% on top of a prior-year gain of 6.9%. First-quarter sales increased 7.6% to a little more than $2.1 billion, and net income grew 8.1% to $80.4 million. The gross margin rate declined to 35.3% from 36%, thanks largely to ongoing strong sales in consumables categories. However, overall profitability didn’t suffer as Family Dollar’s lower gross margins were more than offset by a an even larger decline in expenses with selling, general and administrative costs dropping to 29% of sales, compared with 29.9% the prior year.

Family Dollar ended the quarter with roughly 7,100 stores and the potential to open many more, as its first units in California opened during the period. During the remainder of this year the company plans to open between 450 and 500 new stores while closing 80 to 100 stores and spending $550 million to $600 million to do so. In addition, the company renovated, relocated or expanded 262 stores in the quarter and built its 10th distribution center.

“We have tremendous opportunity to expand our market share further and improve our store productivity, and I am confident that our investments to better meet the needs of our customers will continue to position us to deliver strong financial returns for our shareholders,” said Howard Levine, Family Dollar’s chairman and CEO.

More immediately, the company’s outlook for the second quarter calls for a same-store sales increase around 5% and earnings per share in the range of $1.10 to $1.18, compared with 98 cents last year. For the full year, profits are expected in a range from $3.50 to $3.75, compared with $3.12 last year.

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Ziploc, Rachael Ray team up for Great American FreshOver Project

BY Allison Cerra

RACINE, Wis. — Ziploc has tapped chef and television personality Rachael Ray for a two-year initiative that is designed to help consumers give their food and diets a "freshness makeover."

The Great American FreshOver Project, Ziploc parent company SC Johnson said, was designed to provide families the tools they need to keep their diets full of fresh, healthy foods every day. The initiative includes:

  • Promotions on Ziploc’s Facebook page, which offers FreshOver tips, a free and customizable FreshOver recipe guide that includes Ray’s quick, nutritious and simple solutions to eating fresh, as well as games, coupons and prizes;

  • A mom blogger partnership called the FreshOver Insider Five, which will chronicle their FreshOver Projects online; and

  • The launch of Ziploc’s Perfect Portions bags, which allow families to quickly store and freeze bulk foods and individual portions of poultry, meat, cookie dough and more.

"As a family company, SC Johnson understands how important nutritious family meal planning is today, particularly in this challenging, fast-paced, convenience-packed world," SC Johnson SVP global corporate affairs, communication and sustainability Kelly Semrau said. "We are proud to be bringing the FreshOver Project to the masses, demonstrating SC Johnson’s commitment to making eating fresh foods easier for busy families."

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