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Retail briefs

Wal-Mart: Vendors will foot the bill for inventory

After closing the books on another record-breaking quarter and poised to break the $200 billion sales mark this fiscal year, Wal-Mart continues to look for ways to pare its costs and boost profitability.

And inventory costs are now on its radar.

In recorded remarks to discuss third quarter results last week, executive vp and cfo Tom Schoewe said the company is looking toward the day when vendors completely cover the costs for inventory.

"Payables for the corporation as a percentage of inventory rose to approximately 65 percent, and our goal remains to have 100 percent of our inventory financed by our suppliers," Schoewe said. "This does not mean that we're going to be waiting for months to pay our suppliers. Rather, it means increasing our inventory turns to a point where we have sold the merchandise before we have to pay for it."

Ames announces another round of store closings

Embattled Ames Department Stores said that it will close 16 stores by early 2002. The majority were part of Ames' robust expansion into the Midwest during the late 1990s, when the company acquired the bankrupt Hills Department Store chain as well as seven defunct Goldblatt's units in Chicago.

The company, which filed for Chapter 11 three months ago, announced the closing of 47 stores in August and in November 2000 closed 32 stores. The company now will close 10 stores in Illinois, three in Tennessee and one each in Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio. The company also opened five stores this year, three of them in Illinois.

Hanover Direct to relocate headquarters

Hanover Direct has announced it will relocate its offices to Edgewater, NJ, putting 57,000 square feet of office space in Weehawken, NJ, up for sale.

The company said that this was part of the strategic business realignment, where it has reduced the scope of the operations to core brands, announced in January. The Company Store and Gump's By Mail are remaining in Weehawken, relocating to previously vacated space on the second floor of the site.

Retailers urge government to endorse sales tax holiday

Retail ceos from some of the largest companies in the U.S. joined the National Retail Federation in asking Congress and President Bush to pass a nationwide sales tax holiday, positioning it as an economic stimulus that would save consumers $6.5 billion.

The legislation, which has already been introduced into the senate and house, would allow participating states to stop collecting state and local sales tax for a 10-day period. Congress would reimburse the lost revenue. All big-ticket items would be covered by the holiday, including automobiles. However, taxes on alcoholic beverages and tobacco would not be suspended.

Currently, 45 states collect sales taxes, which average 6 percent to 8 percent.

Among the 33 executives who signed the NRF letter were Gordon Segal, ceo, Crate & Barrel; John Dunham, president, May Department Stores Co.; George Heller, president and ceo, Hudson's Bay Co., Alan Lacy, chairman, president and ceo, Sears; Brad Martin, chairman and ceo, Saks Inc.; Bill Podany, chairman, president and ceo, ShopKo; Allen Questrom, chairman and ceo, J.C. Penney Co.; and Jim Zimmerman, chairman and ceo, Federated Department Stores.

Lands' End opens new facility

Lands' End, based in Dodgeville, WI, has opened a $11 million facility in Stevens Point, WI, which houses the company's second corporate sales phone center, embroidery and distribution facility and its fourth consumer phone center. The 200,000-square-foot facility contains a warehouse, production space, a distribution area to handle corporate sales orders, two phone center, a logo design area and management offices.

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