Fresh fruit, organic treats reach vending machines

Filed under: Retail |

Yo Naturals is joining the healthy revolution by providing natural and organic vending machines.
President and CEO Mark Trotter, a veteran of the vending machine business, opened the company last April. It started distribution in January and in just a month, has received interest from locations across the country.
YoZone food and beverage machines have customized color graphics to match various location types, giving them a fresh, clean feel — and differentiating them from the look of older vending machines.
The YoZone machines also have cashless payment systems for credit and debit cards.
With 24-hour monitoring systems, distributors can oversee activity from their personal computers, only visiting locations when restocking is needed.
In addition, a single machine can store items ranging from fresh fruit to yogurt to organic cookies and cold beverages because each level can be set to a specific temperature.

Whole Foods-Wild Oats acquisition praised

Whole Foods’ $565 million purchase of rival Wild Oats will better position the retailer to compete with Wal-Mart and other chains that are trying to break into the $13.8 billion U.S. organic and natural foods market, chairman, CEO and co-founder John Mackey told investors.
The deal, which adds 110 stores and four banners in the United States and Canada to Whole Foods’ portfolio, gives the retailer critical mass in Colorado, Florida and the Pacific Northwest, three regions where it is currently underrepresented, he said.
Whole Foods will close, re-brand, relocate and remodel some of the Wild Oats stores.
Whole Foods, which recorded $1.2 billion in sales during 2005, reported a 7 percent increase in same-store sales for the first quarter of this fiscal year, which ended Jan. 14, a significant slowdown from the 13 percent comparable store sales that it posted for the same period a year earlier.
Nevertheless, Mackey said that the company is “producing higher sales growth, comps and sales per square foot than our public competitors. Given our record store development pipeline, continued anticipated acceleration in store openings, and now the announcement of our pending merger with Wild Oats Markets, we believe we are even better positioned to achieve our goal of $12 billion in sales in fiscal year 2010.”

Gap scraps latest concept: Forthe & Towne

Gap Inc. has decided to shelve a planned rollout of its newest store concept, Forthe & Towne.
According to the International Council of Shopping Centers, the decision came after the 18-month-old, boomer woman-targeted concept failed to meet projected returns on investment.
Gap plans to close its 19 Forth & Towne stores, which are located in 10 U.S. markets, by the end of June.
In a news release, the retailer said it believes future investments should be focused on turning around its Gap and Old Navy brands.
“Forthe & Towne was a great test of a promising concept and an illustration of the innovative risks you need to take in our business,” said Bob Fisher, chairman of the board and interim president and CEO. “We made the tough decision to close the brand and focus our efforts on stabilizing the existing businesses.”

OfficeMax reports fourth quarter results

Despite the closing of some stores, OfficeMax saw an increase in sales during the fourth quarter and for 2006 as a whole.
Net income for the fourth quarter increased to $58 million, or 76 cents per diluted share, compared with a net loss of $43.1 million, or a loss of 62 cents per diluted share, during the fourth quarter of 2005.
Net income for the full year increased to $91.7 million, or $1.19 per diluted share, compared with a net loss of $73.8 million, or 99 cents per diluted share, reported in 2005.
“The fourth quarter and full year 2006 represented significant improvement for OfficeMax,” said Sam Duncan, chairman and CEO. “We delivered on our turnaround plan goals with solid operating income margin expansion in both our contract and retail segments.”
During the fourth quarter of 2006, OfficeMax opened 29 retail stores and closed two stores, ending the quarter and the year with 911 retail locations, compared with 970 stores at the end of 2005.
OfficeMax contract segment sales decreased 3.5 percent during the fourth quarter of 2006 and increased 1.9 percent for the full year, compared to the fourth quarter and full year 2005, respectively.
OfficeMax retail segment same-store sales decreased 0.4 percent during the fourth quarter of 2006 and increased 0.1 percent for the full year.
Adjusted for the company’s initiative to eliminate mail-in rebates and to provide instant rebates in lieu of national, vendor-sponsored mail-in rebates, same-store sales improved by about 2 percent during the fourth quarter and 1 percent for the full year.
During the fourth quarter of 2006, OfficeMax generated $35.9 million in cash from operations and used $78 million for capital expenditures.
For the full year of 2006, OfficeMax generated $375.7 million in cash from operations and used $174.8 million for capital expenditures.
Joan Johnson covers retail for the Colorado Springs Business Journal.