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Retail Briefs

Questrom for Wal-Mart Board

Retail veteran Allen Questrom will serve on Wal-Mart's board of directors, pending shareholders approval on June 1. As 2000-2004 chairman and ceo of JCPenney, he steered the retailer's turnaround. Prior to that, he had executive stints at Barneys New York, Neiman Marcus, and Federated. Questrom also sits on the boards of Burt's Bees, Sotheby's, and Jones Apparel Group.

Wal-Mart Still Testing Home

Wal-Mart has reset the home department in 270 stores — "but we have not been as pleased with the remodels; the returns have not been what we wanted, and we do not have the answers yet," said Charles Holley, evp, finance and treasurer, speaking at the Lehman Brothers Retail Conference last week. "We are trying new kinds of sets," said Holley. "I would expect by the end of the year you may see this accelerating more as we learn more from the tests we're rolling out."

Fred's Expands Domestics

Southeastern discount convenience retailer Fred's projects an upswing in the second half of 2007, said president and ceo Michael Hayes — and an expanded domestics assortment will be part of the reason. Other growing departments are pets, stationery, and electronics. Cut are boys and girls apparel. Jerry shore, evp and cfo, told a Lehman Brothers conference Fred's will reach about 700 stores this year, with a comp-store sales gain of 3% to 5% and earnings up 12% to 22%.

Bonds 'R' Us: Retailers Sell Debt

Interest rates are relative things, and two major retailers in late April showed that relatively speaking, this is a favorable time to offer debt, as JCPenney and Target each issued $1 billion in bonds. The JCP issue is $300 million in 5.75% notes due 2018 and $700 million in 6.375% notes due 2036. The Target tranche of $1 billion in 5.375% notes is due 2017. Seven weeks earlier, Federated offered $1.1 billion in 5.35% notes due 2012 and $500 million in 6.375% notes due 2037. Much of the proceeds will be used to pay off earlier debt.

Kohl's Rolling Out Chaps Home

The Kohl's rollout of Chaps Home is nearly complete; the brand will officially debut this week in all stores with five bedding collections, executives said at last week's annual shareholders meeting.

At Kohl's Bayshore store in Milwaukee, the merchandise is currently displayed at full pricing. Queen comforter sets range from $279.99 to $359.99; coordinating queen sheet sets range from $99.99 to $119.99. Basic solid color sheet sets are 400-count percale priced at $129.99 for queen. Kohl's is also offering a damask stripe solid 400-count sateen, also $129.99. The core bath towel is priced at $19.99.

But sale prices went into effect May 6, running from $189.99 to $249.99 on queen comforter sets, according to Kohl's Home Sale mailer. Prices on coordinating sheet sets were cut 30%.

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