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Home missing the party at Target

Minneapolis -- When president Greg Steinhafel read to financial analysts this morning his list of the Target Stores’ first quarter proven successes and new initiatives across a wide range of product categories, he had something positive to say about sportswear, handbags, cosmetics, health and body, infant and toddler, food, electronics, and online photography partnerships – but not a single word about home textiles or home furnishings of any type.

When asked by an analyst about the “profitability of Global Bazaar,” Steinhafel did say the company is “very pleased this year” as three main adjustments – greater affordability, stronger color impact, and more concentrated classification focus – yielded improvements in sales and profit for this segment of home.

Otherwise, there was no specific mention of the home departments, except for the comment that consumables categories are growing faster than apparel or home at the 1,500-store mass merchant.

The Target formula is performing well enough: The company reported a handsome 19.6% year-to-year rise in per share earnings for the quarter, to 75 cents, or $651 million. Sales volume (including $418 million in credit card revenues, up 13.0%) rose 9.2% to $14.04 billion from $12.86 billion last year, with a respectable comp-store gain of 4.3%.

Doug Scovanner, evp and cfo, said the company’s “excellent” inventory control has yielded a lower rate of markdowns, protecting the bottom line.

Bob Ulrich, chairman and ceo, pointed to “modest growth in guest traffic” and a “solid increase in average transaction amount” as keys. He projected moderate single-digit comp gains for the year.

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