At the end of 2014 Book Business surveyed our audience, asking what trends and technology they think will have an impact on book publishing in 2015. While the responses will help us better understand the publishers we serve, they also reveal where the industry is headed. The survey gathered information on where publishers expect growth for the businesses, what tools they plan to invest in, and the areas they'd like further education. Over half of the respondents work in the trade (34%) and education (22%) sectors. The remaining are evenly distributed among religious, university, professional, STM, and association publishing segments. Book manufacturers (8%) and other industry suppliers (11%) also participated. And most respondents hold senior executive management roles (38%).
Doug Ewert, Men's Wearhouse chief executive officer, commented, "We continue to be pleased with the robust earnings performance of our legacy brands. Fueling this performance in the fourth quarter are comparable sales increases of 6.8% at Men's Wearhouse, 8.6% at Moores and 6.8% at K&G. And while Jos. A. Bank's comparable sales were negative 6.6%, they were above our expectations." Ewert added, "We are extremely proud of the work done to date to incorporate Jos. A. Bank. We have made significant progress on integrating Jos. A. Bank into the infrastructure of Men's Wearhouse and have developed a robust process around synergy identification and realization. In the nine months since the acquisition, Jos. A. Bank has transitioned many of the back office functions, began store training programs, began the work to instill its employees with the Men's Wearhouse culture, and launched tuxedo rental in all its Jos. A. Bank locations. All of this progress was made while exceeding our initial synergy run-rate target of $15 million as we ended the year with run-rate synergies of $35 million.
Here we go again… A bipartisan group of Senators introduced a bill Tuesday that would allow local brick-and-mortar retailers to compete on a level playing field with out-of-state sellers. The Marketplace Fairness Act of 2015 would give states the option to require out-of-state businesses, such as those selling online or through catalogs, to collect and use taxes already owed under State law the same way local businesses do. Basically, retailers are split into two camps: Those with brick and mortar locations who already charge a state sales tax based on physical location of the buyer, and pure plays and traditional direct-to-customer merchants, such as catalogers, who do not have to charge their customers sales tax unless they have a physical presence in a state, per the 1992 Quill Corp. vs. North Dakota Supreme Court ruling. For the most part, retailers with physical storefronts, and the associations that support them, are in favor of Marketplace Fairness Act. The majority of direct-to-customer merchants without storefronts, and the associations that support them, are against the bill, which has been introduced by Senate three times this decade.
Sappi Limited, a leading global producer of dissolving wood pulp and graphics, speciality and packaging papers, is pleased to announce that it will build a pilot-scale plant for low-cost Cellulose NanoFibrils (nanocellulose) production at the Brightlands Chemelot Campus in Sittard-Geleen in the Netherlands. The pilot plant is expected to be operational within nine months. Commenting on the decision, Andrea Rossi, Group Head Technology, Sappi Limited, explained that the pilot plant will help with Sappi's move into new adjacent business fields based on renewable raw materials. Sappi's strategy includes seeking growth opportunities by producing innovative performance materials from renewable resources. The raw material for the pilot plant would be supplied from any of Sappi's Saiccor, Ngodwana and Cloquet dissolving wood pulp plants. The pilot plant is the precursor for Sappi to consider the construction of a commercial CNF plant.
Operating income for the fourth quarter was $20.5 million compared to $10.7 million in 2013. Adjusted operating income for the fourth quarter was $23.7 million, up 11.3 percent from $21.3 million in 2013 (see Note 1). Net income for the fourth quarter was $12.3 million or $0.27 per diluted share compared to net income of $7.4 million or $0.16 per diluted share in 2013. Fourth quarter adjusted net income was $14.6 million or $0.32 per diluted share compared to adjusted net income of $14.0 million or $0.31 per diluted share in 2013 (see Note 1).
Comparable store sales in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2014 increased 4.3%, with growth in both store and eCommerce operations. Total sales in the period increased 3.0% to $942.6 million, compared with $914.9 million in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2013. Top performing merchandise categories included cold weather and active apparel and home. We continued our trend of double-digit sales growth in eCommerce in the period, the result of expanded product offerings and an additional online event. Other income in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2014 was $20.9 million, an increase of $1.1 million over the comparable prior year period. The increase was largely the result of increased revenues associated with our proprietary credit card operations. Proprietary credit card sales, as a percentage of total sales, increased 87 basis points to 45.2% in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2014.
Grainger (NYSE: GWW) today reported sales results for the month of February 2015. Sales increased 2 percent versus February 2014. Results for the month included 1 percentage point from acquisitions and a 3 percentage point decline from unfavorable foreign exchange. Excluding acquisitions and foreign exchange, organic sales increased 4 percent driven by 4 percentage points from volume and a 2 percentage point benefit from favorable comparability to the business disruptions in February 2014 due to extreme weather. This increase was partially offset by a 1 percentage point decline in price and a 1 percentage point decline from winter storms in February 2015. The month had 20 selling days, the same as in February 2014.
UPM has permanently idled the 225,000 tonne/yr lightweight coated (LWC) paper unit PM 2 at its Kaukas mill in Finland. Production was halted on March 7, according to Kaukas paper mill operations director Antti Hermonen. PM 2 focused on making LWC paper for the rotogravure market, although it was able to produce offset paper as well. UPM has not yet decided what will happen to the machine, Hermonen said.
Midland Paper, Packaging + Supplies announced the launch of a new website design at www.midlandpaper.com. Fresh on the heels of implementing a complete overhaul of its ERP System in 2014, the new website design is a dramatic upgrade that highlights the diverse products offered by Midland including Packaging and Specialty Paper and Film products. Mike Graves, President and COO noted, “You don’t survive over 100 years as a company without being on the forefront of changes in your industry. Our website is a representation of our strategic goal to connect to our customers and expand the markets we serve.” The website highlights Midland’s core products: Commercial Printing Papers, Publication Papers, Specialty Paper and Film, as well as Packaging, Supplies and Equipment. More than just a website redesign, the launch of www.midlandpaper.com showcases how Midland has become a nationwide leader in the Paper and Packaging Industry focused on delivering on commitments to its customers. An expanded section on sustainability, links to the various print advocacy organizations, specialized paper tools and calculators all help supplement the users experience when using this important tool.
"We are confident in our strategy to achieve our growth and performance targets over the next five years,” said Austen. “Our strategy to accelerate growth, focus innovation, and continuously improve is reinforced by the changes we have made to how we execute – with focus, alignment, accountability, and rigor.” Management expects revenue to grow from $4.3 billion in 2014 to $5.8 billion in 2019, assuming constant currency. Revenue growth through 2019 is anticipated to be equally balanced between organic and inorganic growth.