The most wonderful time of year

Carole Sloan, April 26, 2004

Well we're now into it — the deep morass of corporate apologia or boasting.

It's annual meeting time, first quarter biz time and the combination is turning out to be more than interesting — especially among the retailing community.

The following, for those who typically don't follow those tribal rights, could serve as a guide to translating what we read and hear.

This period is interesting in terms of how the CEOs handle themselves on phone/Web conferences, in person with analysts, with happy or irate shareholders, and least of all with the business press.

It's also going to be interesting to see how many of these retail bigwigs, who have been lucky enough to have a plus in their first quarter revenues column, acknowledge that the same first quarter of 2003 was lousy to say the least.

For some it was neigh onto a disaster last year.

The issues are many and wide-ranging. For some companies that typically have annual changes in their operating division, the retail wag network calls them "the asterisk non-comp" group, nothing relates equally from year to year.

Then there are those that have disposed of a business or two — again an asterisk, but more or less decipherable.

And it's always interesting to check out the compensation packages for the senior executives. It's become a cause celebre in view of some of the excesses in other businesses — especially in some of those where the top dogs have taken the company down.

Now, in retailing, we are looking at the states of vendor contributions to the bottom line. We have all heard about reverse auctions.

There are also those things like contributions to new store opening orders, shelf space, contributions to the new warehouse/distribution center construction and on, and on, and on.

They won't necessarily be detailed by item, but even in aggregate it could be an interesting read.

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