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Retail briefs

National brands working well at Lowe's

Partnering with national brands helps differentiate Lowe's from the competition, and the reputation of these brands, and "the prestige they bring to the shelves cannot be overstated," said Robert Niblock, president, at the U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray consumer conference. It's not an opening price point strategy, he explained, but a merchandising strategy to capitalize on its stores and showcase premium brands, which includes Waverly. With store expansion plans of about 15 percent for both this year and next, Lowe's is only in 22 percent of the top 25 markets, said Marshall Croom, vp and treasurer. Fifty percent of the opportunity for the home improvement sector is in these markets, and so this year, 65 percent of the 130 stores scheduled to open will be in these markets. This year's openings will include a mix of 60,000-square-foot stores and 94,000-square-foot stores, which is a new prototype for the retailer and is intended for lower-volume, single-store markets. Today, 74 percent of Lowe's stores are within a 10-mile radius of a Home Depot. Next year, Lowe's plans to open 138 stores. The company has also opened a buying office in Mexico, in addition to the one it has in Southeast Asia.

Kmart moves to NASDAQ

Kmart's new common stock began trading last week on the NASDAQ National Market. After hitting a high of $21.42 early in the week, the stock by Friday morning, June 13, was trading at $18.00, down $0.56 cents, or 3.02 percent. The new stock had previously been trading on the over-the-counter Bulletin Board.

Burlington Coat Factory comps decline

Burlington Coat Factory reported total sales increased 1.1 percent in the fourth quarter ended May 31 to $608.1 million, while comps in units opened at least one year decreased 4.1 percent. Sales during last year's fourth quarter were $601.6 million. Net sales for the year just ended rose a total of $4.6 percent to $2.697 billion, reflecting a drop in same stores sales of 1.8 percent. For all of the previous year, sales totaled $2.577 billion.

ShopKo names space management head

ShopKo Stores Inc. promoted Paul Ihlenfeldt to the post of director of space management for the company's 141-store ShopKo division, overseeing all merchandise presentations. Ihlenfeldt began his career at ShopKo in 1984 in store management. He was promoted into merchandising and replenishment roles before being named division replenishment manager in 1998.

Polo Ralph Lauren Retail names group president

Polo Ralph Lauren Corp. has promoted Bridget Ryan Berman to the new position of group president of Polo Ralph Lauren Retail, overseeing international as well as domestic Polo stores and the outlet division. She continues to report to Roger Farah, the company's president and coo. Ryan Berman joined Polo 1992 as dmm in Polo Retail Corp. and was promoted to vp of merchandising in 1995. In 1998, she was named president of Polo Ralph Lauren's factory store concepts division.

Stein Mart No. 26 in ranking of top Florida companies

The Miami Herald newspaper ranked Stein Mart No. 26 on its Herald 100 — an annual list of the top 100 companies in Florida. Stein Mart also was one of 47 companies on the list with no long-term debt. In addition, it was No. 24 of 25 "Darlings" ranked by the ratio of stock-market value to sales — a measure of the company's popularity on Wall Street, the Herald said.

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