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Sears Holdings posts Q4 results, sees drop in comp sales at Kmart

BY Antoinette Alexander

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. — Sears Holdings announced on Thursday that it narrowed its fourth-quarter loss and, during 2013, made process on its transformation.

"Our focus on serving our members through an integrated platform that is most convenient for them — whether in store, at home or on the go — is resulting in improved member engagement, which is a key component of our member strategy. For the full year 2013, sales derived from Shop Your Way members grew to 69% of total Sears full-line and Kmart sales, up from 59% last year. Our online and multi-channel businesses grew 10% over the prior full year,” said Edward Lampert, Sears Holdings’ chairman and CEO.

During the quarter, revenues decreased $1.7 billion to $10.6 billion compared with revenues of $12.3 billion in the year-ago period. The revenue decrease was primarily due to lower domestic same-store sales and having fewer Kmart and Sears full-line stores in operation.

For the quarter, same-store sales dropped 6.4%, comprised of decreases of 5.1% at Kmart and 7.8% at Sears domestic stores. The company noted that the decline at Kmart reflects declines in a majority of categories, most notably electronics, grocery and household, toys and pharmacy.

The company did not break out pharmacy sales.

Net loss attributable to Holdings’ shareholders during the quarter was $358 million compared with a loss of $489 million in the year-ago period.

Looking ahead, Lampert expressed optimism as the company continues to invest in its transformation.

“We are proactively learning more and more each day about how our members want to shop and what resonates with them. We’re utilizing this feedback as we continue our transition and invest in two primary areas: Our member based platform, Shop Your Way, and integrated retail,” Lampert told analysts. “These two key elements represent a different way of doing business at Sears Holdings, and are the foundations of our other programs and initiatives. Within these two key areas, we’re making substantial investments in engaging members with personalized, relevant content, offering more capabilities to our members, continually enhancing member engagement and building out our platform technology.”

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Kroger adds 7,000 employees to work force in past year

BY Michael Johnsen

CINCINNATI — Kroger on Thursday announced that its total active work force has grown by more than 7,000 during fiscal year 2013. Approximately 90% of the new jobs are in the company’s supermarket divisions.

"Our associates have the extraordinary opportunity to make a difference for the more than eight million customers who visit our stores each day," stated Katy Barclay, Kroger SVP human resources. "We are proud that Kroger’s growth has created 40,000 new American jobs during the last six years. New jobs mean new opportunities for our associates and greater economic impact in the local communities we serve."

Over the last six years, Kroger has created more than 40,000 new jobs. This figure does not include jobs created as a result of capital investment, such as temporary construction jobs, nor does it include Harris Teeter’s approximately 25,000 associates who recently joined the Kroger family. When combined, Kroger today employs more than 375,000 associates.

Kroger has hired 22,456 veterans since 2009. In addition, Kroger is proud to have helped the "100,000 Jobs Mission" surpass its original goal in January, seven years early. The "100,000 Jobs Mission" is a coalition of more than 130 companies with the common goal of hiring more than 100,000 transitioning service members and military veterans by 2020.

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Ahold preparing major Peapod push into New York market

BY Michael Johnsen

ZAANDAM, The Netherlands — Ahold announced plans to significantly expand its Peapod presence in the U.S. market when announcing fourth-quarter results on Thursday. "Peapod is expected to double its capacity in the U.S. in 2014," Dick Boer, Ahold CEO, told analysts. 

"We’re planning to open a semi-automated New Jersey warehouse during this summer of 300,000 square feet — clearly focusing on the demands of the New York City market," Boer said. As many as 21 million people live within New York City’s boundaries, Boer said, "so enormous opportunity for us to move in that market — we’re already there, but to accelerate that growth."

Boer reported that Peapod would also concentrate on expanding its number of pick-up points by 200 by the end of the year. 

Furthering its commitment to online strategies, Ahold recently opened a state-of-the-art digital innovation lab in Chicago, Boer said. "[This] allows us to attract top talent to help us shape the future."

Ahold USA on Thursday reported net sales of $6 billion, down 2.1%. Identical sales dropped 2.1% (2% excluding gasoline) reflecting the sales effect of Hurricane Sandy last year and a challenging fourth quarter, the company stated. For the full year, net sales were $26.1 billion, up 1.1%. Identical sales were up 0.2% (0.3% excluding gasoline). 

“In 2013, we continued to implement our Reshaping Retail strategy, leveraging changing consumer needs and pursuing growth opportunities in both existing and new markets," Boer stated. "We also continued to rapidly expand our online businesses, achieving strong double-digit sales growth," he said. “While we expect economic conditions to gradually improve, we remain cautious in our outlook for the food retail sector in 2014. Our ongoing focus on expanding our online businesses is expected to continue to result in strong sales growth. We will continue to look for ways to simplify our business in order to reduce costs so that we can invest in our value proposition and offer customers a better shopping experience every day.”

 

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