COUNTERPUNCH

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OFF-PRICE ANGST: Ross Stores Inc., the 275-unit off-price chain, said Monday that sluggishness in most apparel categories dragged profits down 2.4 percent in the fourth quarter.
The results followed the fourth-quarter pattern in the off-price sector, with TJX Cos. recently reporting profits plummeted 62 percent and Marshall’s reporting disappointing profit growth. Said Ross Stores’ chief executive officer, Norman A. Ferber: “The off-price industry faced the toughest environment in its history during 1994 due primarily to continued sluggish apparel sales and an increasingly competitive climate as the year progressed.”
In the latest quarter, sales rose 13.6 percent to $391.1 million from $344.3 million, but same-store sales dipped 1 percent. Earnings fell to $12.5 million, from $12.8 million a year ago. Ferber noted that the strongest categories were dresses and home furnishings, while juniors and young men’s were the weakest.

FIVE AND DIME DEPARTURE: Frederick E. Hennig, president and chief operating officer of Woolworth Corp., will retire on April 1, after nearly half a century with the company.
The company said Monday that Hennig planned to retire at the end of 1994, but agreed to defer his retirement to assist Roger N. Farah, who became chairman and chief executive officer in December.
Hennig began his career with Woolworth’s in 1949 as a management trainee at its Canadian subsidiary. During the next 34 years, he held various operational positions, and became president and chief operating officer in 1987.
Hennig will continue on the board of directors.

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