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Retail briefs

Wal-Mart lowers earnings estimate

Wal-Mart Stores announced that it believes its first quarter earnings will be below its original estimate of 32 cents a share because of cooler weather patterns. However, it forecast that earnings would be up slightly from the 30 cents a share earned in the year-ago first quarter. And based on current sales results, the company estimated that sales at stores open for at least a year will rise 3 to 5 percent in April and for the first quarter as a whole.

Sears sales down, first quarter warnings

Sears warned that its first-quarter earnings would fall short of year-ago results and Wall Street forecasts, citing the slowing economy and a decline in March sales. It expects earnings per share for the first quarter, ended March 31, of about 53 cents a share, down from 65 cents a year ago.

Lowe's plans to expand

Anticipating rapid employee growth over the next five years, Lowe's announced that it has options to purchase approximately 135 acres in Iredell County, NC, about 20 miles north of Charlotte, for future corporate office expansion. The company will still maintain a major presence in Wilkes County, which has been home to the company for more than 50 years.

Kmart names new general counsel

Janet Kelley has joined Kmart as senior vp and general counsel, effective immediately. Reporting to executive vp and chief administrative officer David Rots, Kelley will be responsible for the company's legal department, which includes the divisions commercial law, employment and environmental law, intellectual property, and trade regulation. She was previously at The Limited, serving as vp and senior counsel.

Heilig-Meyers plans to concentrate on RoomStores

Heilig-Meyers announced that it will concentrate on its RoomStore format, where customers can purchase full rooms of furniture and accessories, and which has been successful for the company. As a result, it will close all of its remaining Heilig-Meyers furniture stores, about 375 units. The company has filed a motion with the bankruptcy court seeking the authorization to close and liquidate the inventory in those stores.

Williams-Sonoma looks to upgrade system

Williams-Sonoma has purchased data analysis software from Evoke Software Corp. to help it leverage its data assets in an overall effort to upgrade its core management systems in such areas as ordering, inventory, marketing and warehouse. Evoke will analyze the quality of its data prior to any conversion efforts related to the implementation of newly acquired of developed systems, among other features.

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