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Wal-Mart kicks off the holiday shopping season

BY DSN STAFF

BENTONVILLE, Ark. Wal-Mart is kicking off the holiday shopping season early. The company announced today that it plans to reveal its holiday deals online Thursday, with items becoming available Friday morning as the merchant officially opens special Christmas shops.

According to Wal-Mart, customers can sign up for email or text message alerts or go online Thursday at www.walmart.com/secret to be the first to learn about the special savings.

“Our customers can fulfill all their holiday needs at Wal-Mart and not only save money, but buy gifts they can be proud to give,” said John Fleming, chief merchandising officer Wal-Mart Stores U.S.

 

Holiday savings is the focus of the Wal-Mart Christmas marketing campaign that breaks this week.  Broadcast and print ads will show that when shopping at Wal-Mart, “The more you save, the more Christmas you can give.”

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Winn-Dixie reports Q1 sales growth

BY DSN STAFF

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. Winn-Dixie Stores this week reported first-quarter 2008 net sales of $1.6 billion, an increase of 0.7 percent over the first quarter 2007. The company reported identical-store sales increased 0.2 percent, compared to the first quarter of fiscal 2007.

The company reported that gross profit on sales in the first quarter was $446.4 million, an increase of $21.9 million compared to the first quarter of fiscal 2007. As a percentage of sales, gross margin was 27.5 percent in the first quarter compared to 26.4 percent in the same period of fiscal 2007, an increase of 110 basis points. According to the company, the improvement in gross margin was due primarily to a planned reduction in promotional spending in the first quarter of the current fiscal year and to a lesser extent operational improvements that reduced costs at its distribution facilities.

The company reported adjusted EBITDA of $19.5 million for the first quarter of fiscal 2008, compared to a loss of $11.1 million in the same period of fiscal 2007. The company incurred a net loss for the quarter of $0.8 million compared with a net loss of $24.6 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2007, an improvement of $23.8 million.

“We are very pleased with our financial progress this quarter, especially improvements in adjusted EBITDA and gross margin, which reflects the operational changes we are making while we continue to execute our long-term turnaround plan,” Winn-Dixie chairman, chief executive officer and president, Peter Lynch said. “In addition to the store remodels, we are working to improve our competitive position by enhancing the conditions at all our stores, refining our merchandising and promotional activity, managing costs, training our dedicated associates and improving customer service.”

For the fiscal 2008 year, Winn-Dixie expects adjusted EBITDA to be in the range of $90 million to $115 million. Identical-store sales are expected to be slightly positive. Gross margin in fiscal 2008 is expected to be slightly higher than in fiscal 2007.

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HearAtLast to open at two Wal-Mart locations

BY Antoinette Alexander

TORONTO HearAtLast Holdings, which owns and operates a chain of hearing stores that sells digital hearing aids and testing devices, plans to open two new retail locations in two Toronto area Wal-Marts.

The new locations, which mark the ninth and 10th clinics, are a direct result of the company exercising its option under a master licensing deal with Wal-Mart International. The deal allows HearAtLast to open hearing aid clinics within several Wal-Mart stores throughout Canada.

HearAtLast facilities sell hearing aids and also offer complimentary screening tests, clinical hearing tests, instant custom MP3 headphones and custom hearing protection. After a prescription is approved, the independent on-site audiologists and hearing aid practitioners dispense a hearing aid in about an hour.

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