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Newell Rubbermaid launches Investing in Community program

BY Allison Cerra

ATLANTA Newell Rubbermaid is set to launch a new strategic, company-wide community investment program.

The program, called Investing in Community, is designed to maximize the company’s impact in communities through cash and in-kind contributions and employee and executive involvement.

The initial spending plan is approximately $2 million, the company said.

Investing in Community, the company said, was developed to address community needs while supporting Newell Rubbermaid’s core consumers and overall business objectives.

“For the first time, through Investing in Community, we are able to harness the philanthropic efforts of all of our employees and brands to yield a greater, more visible impact in the communities where we operate,” said Mark Ketchum, president and chief executive officer of Newell Rubbermaid. “We recognize the importance of giving back to our core consumers, and we are committed to building a best-in-class community involvement program that makes a difference in the lives of our consumers and our employees.”

Investing in Community will focus on three key areas of particular interest to core consumers of Newell Rubbermaid’s brands and is aligned with relevant life stages.

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Winn-Dixie reports Q1 sales growth

BY DSN STAFF

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. Winn-Dixie Stores this week reported first-quarter 2008 net sales of $1.6 billion, an increase of 0.7 percent over the first quarter 2007. The company reported identical-store sales increased 0.2 percent, compared to the first quarter of fiscal 2007.

The company reported that gross profit on sales in the first quarter was $446.4 million, an increase of $21.9 million compared to the first quarter of fiscal 2007. As a percentage of sales, gross margin was 27.5 percent in the first quarter compared to 26.4 percent in the same period of fiscal 2007, an increase of 110 basis points. According to the company, the improvement in gross margin was due primarily to a planned reduction in promotional spending in the first quarter of the current fiscal year and to a lesser extent operational improvements that reduced costs at its distribution facilities.

The company reported adjusted EBITDA of $19.5 million for the first quarter of fiscal 2008, compared to a loss of $11.1 million in the same period of fiscal 2007. The company incurred a net loss for the quarter of $0.8 million compared with a net loss of $24.6 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2007, an improvement of $23.8 million.

“We are very pleased with our financial progress this quarter, especially improvements in adjusted EBITDA and gross margin, which reflects the operational changes we are making while we continue to execute our long-term turnaround plan,” Winn-Dixie chairman, chief executive officer and president, Peter Lynch said. “In addition to the store remodels, we are working to improve our competitive position by enhancing the conditions at all our stores, refining our merchandising and promotional activity, managing costs, training our dedicated associates and improving customer service.”

For the fiscal 2008 year, Winn-Dixie expects adjusted EBITDA to be in the range of $90 million to $115 million. Identical-store sales are expected to be slightly positive. Gross margin in fiscal 2008 is expected to be slightly higher than in fiscal 2007.

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HearAtLast to open at two Wal-Mart locations

BY Antoinette Alexander

TORONTO HearAtLast Holdings, which owns and operates a chain of hearing stores that sells digital hearing aids and testing devices, plans to open two new retail locations in two Toronto area Wal-Marts.

The new locations, which mark the ninth and 10th clinics, are a direct result of the company exercising its option under a master licensing deal with Wal-Mart International. The deal allows HearAtLast to open hearing aid clinics within several Wal-Mart stores throughout Canada.

HearAtLast facilities sell hearing aids and also offer complimentary screening tests, clinical hearing tests, instant custom MP3 headphones and custom hearing protection. After a prescription is approved, the independent on-site audiologists and hearing aid practitioners dispense a hearing aid in about an hour.

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