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Retail Briefs

Kohl's to Debut Chaps Home

Kohl's introduced Chaps apparel two years ago, predicting an extension into home. The $14 billion mid-tier retailer now says Chaps Home will roll out this May. The line will be designed and developed by brand owner Polo Ralph Lauren and manufactured by Kohl's.

The initial launch of Chaps Home will feature five fashion bedding collections as well as solid color sheets, towels, and bath rugs. With the launch into home, Chaps becomes the first national brand that Kohl's carries in every one of its major departments.

Wal-Mart Promotes Dotcom Execs

Wal-Mart Stores named Carter Cast head of U.S. business strategy, and appointed Raul Vazquez president and ceo of Walmart.com. Both will report to Eduardo Castro-Wright, president and ceo of Wal-Mart Stores' U.S. division. Vazquez succeeds Cast in the dotcom role. Cast joined Walmart.com in 2000, becoming ceo two years ago. Vazquez joined the division in 2002 and most recently served as the company's chief marketing officer; he oversaw the launch of the site's major redesign last year.

Shabby Chic Eyes 60 Stores

Home furnishings supplier and retailer Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic said it will open up to 60 U.S. stores in the next five years, above the six boutiques now in operation. Currently, Target stores carry the licensed Simply Shabby Chic brand in home textiles, while the main Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic brand is available elsewhere in slipcovered furniture, bedding, sleepwear, and accessories for adults and infants.

Fourth Quarter Can't Stop Lowe's

A fourth-quarter sales and net earnings decline did not prevent Lowe's Companies from registering record earnings for fiscal 2006, as the big home improvement retailer said full-year net earnings grew 12.3% to $3.1 billion, while diluted earnings per share were up 15.0% to $1.99 for the year. Still, the housing slump did affect the most recent activity, as comp sales for the quarter were down 5.3%, resulting in a flat year-to-year comparison.

Home Depot Earnings Flatten

Home improvement titan Home Depot saw sour fourth-quarter results, with same-store sales down 6.6% in its retail segment — resulting in a full-year comp drop of 2.8%. Fiscal 2006 net sales grew 11.4% to $90.8 billion, with diluted earnings per share up 2.6% to $2.79 on net earnings of $5.8 billion.

"Our 2006 retail results were disappointing," said new chairman and ceo Frank Blake. "We may not be able to impact the housing market or general economic conditions, but we know that we can improve our performance relative to our overall market share. That will be a central point of emphasis for us in 2007 and beyond."

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