News

Rx helps Costco top $63 billion

BY Doug Desjardins

ISSAQUAH, Wash. —Despite hitting a bump in the road in August, Costco is on track to record another stellar year as it continues to lead the way among warehouse retailers and put more distance between itself and main rival Sam’s Club.

While Costco isn’t scheduled to report its fiscal 2007 earnings until Oct.11, preliminary reports show Costco’s sales increased 7 percent to $63 billion for the year ended Sept. 2, giving it a solid hold on the No. 2 spot among general merchandise retailers in the United States. As usual, sales were driven by food, electronics and pharmacy, three categories that have been outper-forming other areas for the past several years.

Pharmacy is a high-growth area for Costco, and it generated $2.57 billion in sales in fiscal 2006, ranking it among the top 10 pharmacy retailers in the country. The chain filled 26.3 million prescriptions in 2006 and expects that number to top 30 million in 2007. It also launched a program in January providing customers with 100-count supplies of 200 different generic drugs for $10, an alternative to the $4 programs for 30-count supplies at other chains.

Food sales—led by meat and produce—continued to post double-digit gains. Costco’s biggest move in food this year was a deal it signed with Martha Stewart Living, and it’s scheduled to launch a cobranded Martha Stewart line of fresh, refrigerated and frozen foods by the end of 2007.

In consumer electronics, Costco is on its way to bettering the $1.8 billion in TV sales it generated in fiscal 2006 and is complementing flat-panel TV sales with a move into high-definition DVD. It began carrying both HD-DVD and Blu-Ray DVD players in stores this summer, along with DVDs in both formats.

And it’s been another year of rapid growth. Costco added 30 new stores during the year and finished with 518 overall. Costco director of investor relations Bob Nelson said its goal is to open 30 to 35 new stores in fiscal 2007, with up to 15 of those stores slated to open between now and the end of December.

While Costco established another record year in sales that topped $63 billion, it may not equal its record earnings of $1.1 billion recorded in 2006. for the first nine months of the fiscal year, Costco generated $710.4 million in earnings compared with $746 million during the same period last year. But those earnings would have topped $793 million if not for two, one-time charges.

In May, Costco transferred $30.3 million to its sales returns reserve fund to cover expenses related to rampant returns on high-priced consumer electronics items, a problem it addressed in March when it adopted a new 90-day return policy. And Costco took a $46.4 million charge to offset tax consequences related to inconsistencies an internal review uncovered in past stock option grants.

Despite those charges, Costco still could improve on its record earnings from last year. “We can’t talk about it until our Oct. 11 call, but we’re on track for our fourth-quarter earnings and should do pretty well for the year,” Nelson said.

Costco continued to generate solid gains in same-store sales for the year, with a 6 percent increase and was able to do it despite a slow month in August when same-store sales increased only 2 percent, with sales at U.S. stores jumping just 1 percent. Costco cited poor weather in California as a primary source of the slump (California is home to 29 percent of its stores base). The record heat contributed to a 4.5 percent decline in customer traffic in stores in California for the month.

Costco continues to thrive outside of the United States and now operates 135 international stores with more than half of those north of the border in Canada (71) and 30 in Mexico. It also operates 19 stores in the United Kingdom, five in Korea, four in Taiwan and six in Japan, where it opened its newest store in Kawasaki on July 12. Costco reported a 9 percent increase in same-store sales for the year at its international stores compared with 5 percent in the United States. And it opened is first urban store in Canada last November in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia.

Costco also has stepped up its sustainability efforts this year. It installed solar power systems at two stores in California that the chain estimates will pay for themselves in two years and announced plans in September to install solar panels at four stores in Hawaii by the end of 2007. Costco also has installed special parking spaces for hybrid vehicles at some stores equipped with chargers for customers to juice up their batteries while they shop.

Costco’s photo centers continue to thrive and they should easily exceed the 1 billion prints they processed in 2006. Costco also expects sales at Costco.com to top $1 billion this year after producing $880 million in sales in fiscal 2006.

keyboard_arrow_downCOMMENTS

Leave a Reply

No comments found

TRENDING STORIES

Polls

Which area of the industry do you think Amazon's entry would shake up the most?
News

Kroger appoints Going as Michigan division president

BY Adam Kraemer

CINCINNATI The Kroger Co. announced Wednesday that it has named Rick Going president of the company’s new Michigan division.

Kroger currently operates 138 stores in the state; Going will oversee operations in them, effective immediately.

During his 26-year tenure with Kroger, Going has held a number of district- and division-level leadership positions at the store and has served as vice president of Retail Operations and vice president of Merchandising for Kroger’s Cincinnati/Dayton division.

“Rick brings extensive experience in operations and merchandising to this new role,” said Don McGeorge, Kroger’s president and chief operating officer. “We look forward to his leadership as he works with our associates to build on Kroger’s growth in Michigan by focusing on our customers to create even better shopping experiences for them.”

keyboard_arrow_downCOMMENTS

Leave a Reply

No comments found

TRENDING STORIES

Polls

Which area of the industry do you think Amazon's entry would shake up the most?
News

NACDS responds to “misleading” New York Times article

BY DSN STAFF

ALEXANDRIA, Va. The National Association of Chain Drug Stores has fired back at The New York Times after the publication ran an article in its Sept. 18 issue titled, “The ‘Poisonous Cocktail’ of Multiple Drugs.”

The NACDS said the article misrepresented the role of chain pharmacies in the prevention of harmful drug interactions. The article blamed, “places where chain stores have replaced independent pharmacies or when the patient’s drug plan requires that medications be ordered by mail.” The NACDS retaliated by stating that all pharmacists, no matter whether they work in a chain or at an independent pharmacy, counsel patients for drug interactions and rely on medication information for this purpose.

The NACDS said the article misrepresented the role of chain pharmacies in the prevention of harmful drug interactions. The article blamed, “places where chain stores have replaced independent pharmacies or when the patient’s drug plan requires that medications be ordered by mail.” The NACDS retaliated by stating that all pharmacists, no matter whether they work in a chain or at an independent pharmacy, counsel patients for drug interactions and rely on medication information for this purpose.

keyboard_arrow_downCOMMENTS

Leave a Reply

No comments found

TRENDING STORIES

Polls

Which area of the industry do you think Amazon's entry would shake up the most?