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Retail Briefs

'Unprecedented' Time at Stein Mart

Stein Mart president and ceo Linda Farthing summed up the retail environment during the company's third quarter as, "in a word: unprecedented." The 279-unit off-price chain's Q3 loss of $14.1 million, or 34 cents per share, was deeper than the year-ago loss of $2.7 million, or 6 cents. Sales of $298.8 million were down 10.4%, while comps fell 12.6%. For spring 2009, said Farthing, Stein Mart plans to be "very, very, very, underline-underline conservative, not only to keep inventories in line but to have plenty of firepower to take advantage of great brand opportunities presenting themselves to us."

Muji Chelsea in Black Friday Debut

Muji opened its fourth U.S. store the day after Thanksgiving at 16 W 19th Street in the Chelsea district of Manhattan. The home and apparel retailer, which derives its name from Mujirushi Ryohin ("no-brand quality goods" in Japanese), opened in Soho here in November 2007, followed by a Times Square store and Muji to Go in the Jet Blue terminal at JFK International Airport this fall. The company is a subsidiary of Ryohin Keikaku Co., which operates 344 Muji stores in Japan and about 100 around the world.

Wal-Mart in Wind-Power Contract

Wal-Mart Stores has made its first wind-power purchase, one that will provide electricity to some 360 Texas stores starting in April 2009. The deal is with a Duke Energy wind farm under construction in Notrees, Texas, said Wal-Mart, and is expected to provide up to 15% of the retailer's total energy load for the stores and other facilities in the region. "We're purchasing renewable power at traditional energy rates," said Kim Saylors-Laster, vp of energy for Wal-Mart. "The wind power purchase will result in a significant decrease of greenhouse gas emissions and aligns perfectly with Wal-Mart's long-term goal of being supplied by 100% renewable energy."

Plow & Hearth Re-Forest Rockets

Launched in September by home and garden retailer Plow & Hearth and the National Forest Foundation, the Campaign to Re-Forest America seeks to plant one million trees in U.S. National Forests by the end of 2009; the company said 200,000 tree seedlings have already been designated for distribution. After a P&H purchase, customers are emailed to select one of three National Forests to receive a seedling. People can also donate directly via www.natlforests.org.

Hochhauser to Step Down at MSLO

Home lifestyle brand house Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia said Howard Hochhauser will resign as cfo, effective Dec. 31.

As the company begins its search for a replacement, Allison Jacques, who has served as MSLO controller since 2002, will serve as principal financial officer on an interim basis.

Hochhauser joined MSLO in 2000 after a career as an equity research analyst and an accountant.

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