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Retail Briefs

Linens 'n Things Names Key Execs

Linens 'n Things has promoted Robert Homler to executive vp of merchandising, and named Michael Larkey senior vp marketing. Both will report directly to chairman and ceo Robert DiNicola. Homler was recruited April 17 as svp marketing; previously he had held posts at nutrition retailer GNC, Levitz Furniture, Macy's and Federated Department Stores. Larkey comes to $2.7-billion LNT from his post as president of Sofatrend, a Robinson & Robinson Furniture division. Prior posts were at upholstery manufacturer Jonathan Lewis International, and in the home departments at B. Altman, Macy's and Federated.

Family Dollar to Source Directly

Family Dollar is expanding the direct-sourcing of its “treasure hunt assortment,” said chairman of the board and ceo Howard Levine. The opportunistic buys from overseas and closeouts can range from toys to $3 bath towels. “While we've developed a lot of expertise and experiences overseas,” he noted, “we still think we have a lot more coming to us to get more fully developed in the whole global procurement area.”

Fred's Stores Bullish on Mix

Fred's Stores will continue altering its merchandise mix by about 3.5% per year, and will keep its assortments broad yet convenient to shop, said ceo Michael Hayes. The 663-store general merchandiser differentiates from competitors Dollar General and Family Dollar by its twice-as-big, 13,000-sku assortment and the pharmacies it operates in nearly 300 stores. “Apparel and linens” account for about 14% of retail volume. Jerry Shore, executive vp and cfo, projected that total sales will rise by 11% to 15% in 2006 and net income will grow from $26.1 million in 2005 to about $30.6 million.

Home Drives Kohl's 1Q Results

Kohl's coo Arlene Meier said home was a leader in the 741-store chain's stellar first-quarter, along with the menswear department. Net income for the quarter was $167.2 million, up 34.1% from $124.7 million a year ago. Net sales increased 16.1% to $3.2 billion. Comps were up 6.9%. The home department in one third of Kohl's stores has been reset with greater good-better-best clarity, a queen-size bed vignette, and new brands in soft home (Candie's and apt. 9). Chainwide rollout should be complete before the end of the year. Kohl's raised its earnings projection for fiscal 2006 to a range of $2.91 to $3.02 per diluted share.

Pier 1 Downtrends; Retains JPMorgan

Pier 1 Imports has retained JPMorgan to evaluate strategic alternatives, indicating a sale of assets could occur. Comps dropped 11.5% in April and 6.5% year-to-date. Pier 1 will report quarterly results June 15, and now projects a loss of $0.24 and $0.28 per share. Chairman and ceo Marvin Girouard noted leaner inventories and new catalog mailings, saying, “Over the next several months, we believe that the new merchandising and marketing strategies will begin to improve customer traffic and sales.”

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