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Retail Briefs

Mystery Retailer's Loss Big Lots' Gain

National closeout retailer Big Lots recorded 2Q sales of $1.08 billion and posted a quite respectable 5.2% same store sales gain in July. Comps, the retailer said were "positively impacted by a large closeout deal from a major home furnishings retailer, which the company estimates increased comparable store sales comps by approximately 2%."

The 1,369-store Big Lots offered a single clue to the mystery retailer's identity, noting, "On a regional basis, sales results were strongest in the Northeast and Southern regions with the Western region trailing the company average as it had the fewest stores benefiting from the home furnishings deal noted above."

Bharti, Wal-Mart in India Venture

Bharti Enterprises and Wal-Mart Stores set up Bharti Wal-Mart Private Ltd., a 50-50 venture for wholesale cash-and-carry and back-end supply chain management in India. They plan up to 15 locations serving owners of small retail operations with staples procured from Indian suppliers. Mike Duke, vice chairman, Wal-Mart Stores, said his company "would also like to leverage our global scale to transform some of these suppliers into exporters with access to our global markets over time." Heavily diversified Bharti also has a joint venture with ELRo Holdings India Ltd., called FieldFresh Foods Pvt. Ltd, which handles global distribution of fresh fruits and vegetables.

RSTO Drops Guidance, Gains Forecast

Citing "below plan revenues and a higher than anticipated mix of promotional selling," specialty retailer Restoration Hardware lowered its second-quarter guidance to a net loss in the range of $0.21 to $0.19 per diluted share. Gary Friedman, president and ceo, maintained that "new growth vehicles in place" and "significant cost savings" will drive better results in the second half of 2007. The company also said it signed a 15-year lease for a new D.C. in West Jefferson, Ohio, to be ready by summer 2008. Ken Dunaj, coo, said the investment will help drive "greater service and productivity."

Gottschalks Promotes Executives

Department store chain Gottschalks named Jim Famalette chairman of the board; he continues to serve as president and ceo. Joseph Levy retired as chairman but remains a director and chairman emeritus, while Joseph Penbera continues as lead director. The company promoted Gregory Ambro to evp and coo, from chief administrative and financial officer. Gottschalks also promoted Daniel Warzenski to vp finance and cfo; he was formerly vp of finance.

Family Dollar Lowers Projections

Faced with "softer than planned" sales of higher margin categories, discounter Family Dollar said it now expects fourth quarter earnings of $0.19 to $0.22 per diluted share, and full year earnings of $1.55 to $1.58. Another factor, the company said, was a projected $0.03 per share cost from adjustments to its real estate asset and liability accounts.

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