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Sam’s Club to launch online pet care portal

BY Alaric DeArment

TAMPA, Fla. — Sam’s Club has signed a deal with Triad Retail Media to provide pet care information on its website, Triad said Wednesday.

The companies are launching Pet Central on SamsClub.com and are partnering with Louise Murray, author of the book "Vet Confidential: An Insider’s Guide to Protecting Your Pet’s Health" and head of the ASPCA’s Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital in New York, to develop social media content focus on caring for pets. Triad said Pet Central was designed to provide pet owners with an interactive shopping experience through which they can learn about how to properly care for pets while creating a direct path to purchase and recommending products at Sam’s Club. Meanwhile, customers can interact with Murray on such topics as teaching puppies not to bite, calming hyperactive kittens and properly boarding pets while on vacation.

"Dynamic, interactive and information-rich content centers have become a critical element of the shopper marketing strategy for retailers and brands," Triad CEO Greg Murtagh said. "With the new Pet Central, Sam’s Club has built one of the most informed base of customers when it comes to pet care, which ultimately helps drive sales online and in-store. Triad is thrilled to be involved with such an innovative project."

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Target tops earnings view even after earlier increase

BY Mike Troy

MINNEAPOLIS — First-quarter earnings at Target exceeded a profit forecast the company increased last month after a strong start to the quarter.

Sales increased 6.1% to $16.5 billion and same-store sales advanced 5.3%. The sales momentum, combined with rigid expense control, enabled the company to report first-quarter earnings per share of $1.04, which exceeded a guidance range that had been increased to 96 cents to $1.02 from 88 cents to 98 cents in early April, following better-than-expected same-store sales during the first two months of the quarter.

"We’re very pleased with our first quarter earnings, which benefited from better-than-expected sales," said Gregg Steinhafel, Target’s chairman, president and CEO. "While our outlook for the remainder of 2012 reflects continued economic uncertainty, we are confident in our strategy, keenly focused on delivering an affordable and inspirational merchandise assortment to our guests and committed to making thoughtful investments in our U.S. and Canadian business segments that we expect will reward our shareholders over time."

The company also exceeded its adjusted earnings forecast, which takes into account expenses incurred in relation to next year’s entry into Canada. Adjusted earnings per share were $1.11 in first quarter, and increase of 11.5% from the 99 cents during the prior year years. The $1.11 figure exceeded guidance of $1.04 to $1.10 that had been increased in early April from a range of 97 cents to $1.07.

Gross margins declined slightly to 30.2% from 30.4% as lower margin food and consumables accounted for a larger percentage of overall sales. The decline was more than offset by a reduction in expense as which declined to 19.9% compared with 20.4% the prior year.

The solid first quarter showing prompted the company to raise its full year earnings forecast by 5 cents to a range of $4.10 to $4.30 or, excluding cost related to Canada, $4.60 to $4.80.

Target ended the first quarter with 1,764 stores.

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Anchor Bay Entertainment releases new ‘Chuggington’ DVD

BY Allison Cerra

NEW YORK — Anchor Bay Entertainment is bringing more "Chuggington" adventures to DVD this summer.

"Wilson And The Ice Cream Fair," the latest "Chuggington" DVD, is an all-new episodic collection that stars brave trainee Wilson, who must make a special delivery to the ice cream fair, help Frostini create a new flavor for the mayor’s banquet and help prevent a massive ice cream meltdown on the hottest day of the year. The fun continues when Wilson and friends Brewster and Koko visit the Chuggington ice cream factory, assist with a brave rescue at the Safari Park and embark on a journey to the ice caves. Alongside helpful such chuggers as Old Puffer Pete, and Mtambo, the young trainees discover important lessons about responsibility, cooperation, paying attention, overcoming fear and more.

"’Wilson And The Ice Cream Fair’ is an irresistible new title filled with positive messages for preschoolers and we’re very excited to give fans the opportunity to enjoy this delightful collection of favorite ‘Chuggington’ episodes — just in time to celebrate the start of summer," Anchor Bay Entertainment executive director of brand marketing Erin Carter said.

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