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The Parent Company signs on as partner with drugstore.com

BY Michael Johnsen

DENVER The Parent Company, a company that offers an e-commerce solution for online retailers on Thursday announced a new relationship to merchandise and fulfill select toy and baby products sold on drugstore.com, a top 50 Internet retailer.

The Parent Company will provide popular children’s and baby products for the toys and kids electronics department on the drugstore.com retail website and will provide category management, product content, inventory control and order fulfillment.

“We’re excited to add a new strategic retail partner into our business model of leveraging our merchandising expertise and making full use of our extensive technology and fulfillment resources,” stated Michael Wagner, president and chief executive officer of The Parent Company. “We offer retailers an excellent way to increase traffic and sales by featuring toys and baby products as part of their assortment, without the inventory risk or additional staff.”

According to The Parent Company, already using the eToys solution are Sears.com, Kmart.com, Shop.com, Amazon.com, Macys.com, KBtoys.com, HSN.com, CircuitCity.com and Buy.com .

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Fred’s posts Q2 sales increase

BY DSN STAFF

MEMPHIS, Tenn. Fred’s reported net income of $1 million or 3 cents per diluted share for the second quarter, inclusive of net costs associated with the closing of 50 stores and one pharmacy during the second quarter, pursuant to the company’s previously announced program to close 75 underperforming stores and 22 underperforming pharmacies in 2008. In the year-earlier quarter, Fred’s net income totaled $3.1 million or 8 cents per diluted share.

Fred’s total sales for the second quarter of fiscal 2008 increased 5 percent to $447.1 million from $424.6 million for the same period last year. Excluding stores closed in 2008, total sales from ongoing stores increased 7 percent over last year. On a comparable-store basis, second quarter sales increased 4.9 percent versus 0.8 percent in the year-earlier period.

In the third quarter, the company expects total sales to be flat with last year, reflecting the closing of the 75 stores and 22 pharmacies in line with the company’s planned restructuring program. Comparable-store sales are expected to increase in the range of 1 percent to 3 percent. Earnings per share are forecasted to be in the range of 16 cents to 18 cents for the third quarter, increasing 33 percent to 50 percent over the same period last year.

Looking ahead, the company continues to expect total earnings per diluted share for 2008 to be in the range of 54 cents to 58 cents, including net costs in 2008 related to the announced store closings. Excluding net costs associated with the store restructuring program in 2008, earnings per share in 2008 are expected to be in the range of 72 cents to 76 cents.

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Indictments handed down in pharmacy theft scheme

BY Alaric DeArment

MIAMI Seven men from Florida and North Carolina have been charged in a multimillion-dollar scheme to transport goods stolen from Walgreens, CVS, Target and others in North Carolina, Texas and Ohio to Florida, where it was then repackaged and resold, according to the Miami Herald.

A federal grand jury in Ford Lauderdale, Fla., gave the indictment, which the United States attorney’s office opened last week.

The FBI estimates that retailers lose $30 billion a year to organized retail crime, while a National Retail Federation survey showed that 85 percent of retailers reported being victims over the last year.

Organized retail crime involves stealing large quantities of goods, ranging from over-the-counter medications to DVDs, and then reselling them online or at flea markets. They can pose a risk to consumers because the thieves may mishandle them, alter expiration dates or store them in unsanitary conditions. According to the Coalition Against Organized Retail Crime, for example, authorities in Texas confiscated $1 million worth of stolen baby formula that was being stored in rodent-infested garages without temperature controls.

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