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CLEARANCE DOWN, PROFITS UP: ShopKo Stores Inc. said fewer clearance sales and bigger volume in higher-margin items contributed to an 83.6 percent increase in fourth-quarter profits.
ShopKo posted double-digit same-store sales gains in sleepwear, infants, women's accessories, activewear and career wear, Lawrence J. Clark, vice president, finance, said. Same-store sales of jewelry and watches advanced a little over 30 percent.
Clark said men's wear was one of the softer areas in the fourth quarter. As a remedy, ShopKo will focus on building its men's casual business.
In the quarter ended Feb. 25, earnings soared to $18.8 million, or 59 cents a share, from $10.2 million, or 32 cents in the year-ago quarter. The earnings came in above Wall Street's estimate of 42 cents a share.
Sales at the Green Bay, Wis.-based retailer rose 5 percent to $485.8 million from $462.6 million. Gross margin rose to 27.2 percent of sales, from 24.3 percent in the year-ago quarter.
In the year, earnings jumped 17.6 percent to $37.8 million, or $1.18, from $32.1 million, or $1. Sales rose 6.6 percent to $1.9 billion from $1.7 billion, with same-store sales up 0.7 percent.

TAKING BETTER ACCOUNT: Kmart Corp. has implemented a new inventory accounting system that will provide more accurate information for quarterly earnings reports.
The new system, which was put in place at the beginning of 1995, will provide better information on departmental inventory within the stores. It will not affect annual results, which are based on physical inventories.

BRADLEES' NEW DESIGNER: Bradlees Inc. has named George Bruce senior vice president, store design and visual presentation, a new post.
Bruce, who has 30 years retail experience, most recently was vice president, sales promotion for Venture Stores, a discounter based in O'Fallon, Mo. He has held visual merchandising positions at Joseph Magnin and Mervyn's.
At Bradlees, Bruce reports to Mark A. Cohen, chairman and chief executive officer.

A SECURITY VENTURE: Venture Stores Inc. expects to install a radio frequency-based security system at 48 more stores by July 1.
The discounter already has 67 stores equipped with the electronic article surveillance system made by Checkpoint Systems Inc.
Checkpoint's chainwide installation includes detection sensors positioned at store exits and entrances, radio frequency labels affixed to merchandise and deactivation pads placed at checkout to turn off the labels.
Target also is going chainwide with the radio frequency system this year, Checkpoint said.SEARS BUILDING PLANS: Sears Merchandise Group will construct a two-level, 197,000-square-foot store at the Marley Station Shopping Center, Glen Burnie, Md. Planned opening date is fall 1996, Sears said.
Sears joins anchors Macy's, Hecht's and J.C. Penney at the center, which also includes 130 specialty stores.
Sears said the Marley Station store is part of its multi-year, $4 billion capital expenditure program for opening new department stores and freestanding specialty stores, and for remodeling existing units.
Sears operates 800 retail stores, including 18 in the Baltimore area.

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