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Target reports March sales

BY Allison Cerra

MINNEAPOLIS Target reported that its net retail sales for the five weeks ended April 4 decreased from the year-ago period.

The retail giant reported that net earnings were $5, 5434 million, down 2.3%, from $5,676 million for the five weeks ended April 5, 2008. On this same basis, March comparable-store sales declined 6.3%.

“March sales were modestly better than our planned range, and reflected the adverse impact of the move of pre-Easter holiday shopping days from March last year into April this year.” said Gregg Steinhafel, chairman, president and CEO, Target Corporation. “Our guests continue to be cautious, but we have begun to see encouraging signs in the operating results of both of our business segments. In light of the Easter shift and recent trends, we expect our April reported comparable-store sales results to be essentially flat to last year.”

Target Corporation’s retail segment includes large general merchandise and food discount stores and Target.com, a fully integrated on-line business. In addition, the company operates a credit card segment that offers branded proprietary and Visa credit card products. The company currently operates 1,699 Target stores in 49 states.

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Staedtler announces merger of U.S., Canada operations

BY Allison Cerra

CHATSWORTH, Calif. A new, consolidated organization of Staedtler will emerge by the end of this year, the company’s division presidents and CEOs announced.

By merging the United States and Canada operations, Staedtler Inc. will have a combined division called Staedtler North America.

The company manufactures writing instruments, including highlighters, mechanical drawing instruments and more.

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Costco halts home furnishing store experiment

BY Alaric DeArment

ISSAQUAH, Wash. Costco Wholesale Corp. will close its two Costco Home stores, the retailer announced Thursday.

The company will close the stores, in Kirkland, Wash., and Tempe, Ariz., on July 3.

“Costco Home has been a valuable experiment for us,” CEO Jim Sinegal stated. “We provided a competitive home furnishings alternative to our members in two locations and learned a great deal about home furnishings in the process. The current economic slowdown and resulting weakness in the home furnishings business inparticular have led us to conclude that the single-format Costco Home concept does not fit into our long-term expansion plans.”

Employees at the two stores will be offered opportunities to work at Costco warehouses, the company said.

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