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More momentum expected at Sam’s Club


A body in motion tends to stay in motion and that appears to be the case with Sam’s Club where a strong fourth-quarter performance is expected to continue in 2012 under the leadership of new president and CEO Rosalind Brewer.

The former Walmart store operations executive took the helm from outgoing Sam’s president and CEO Brian Cornell three weeks ago and is looking to build on the momentum he initiated and was evident in fourth quarter results reported earlier this week.

Sam’s same-store sales increased 6.8%, and total sales increased by the same amount to $14 billion from $13.1 billion if fuel sales are included in the mix. Excluding fuel, which is how Sam’s like to analyze things because volatile gas prices can distort comparisons, comps increased 5.4% and total sales increased by 5.4% to $12.6 billion. Operating profits grew at a faster pace, advancing 7.6% to $524 million from $487 million.

Brewer said Sam’s was very pleased with the top line performance and reported strength across all three of its operating division with increases in member traffic and average transaction size.

“Our entire organization is highly motivated to continue this great momentum,” Brewer said during a pre-recorded call. “Member experience survey results are at an all-time high. Our merchandising team is doing a fantastic job of finding items that members want, at a great value, and the club operators are doing a great job of getting those items in front of the Sam’s Club members.”

Looking forward, Brewer said Sam’s expects first quarter comps in the range of 3% to 5% and new clubs and expansions will also contribute to sales with plans on track for 10 to 15 new units and a higher proportion of those being new clubs as opposed to relocations or expansions. Nine new clubs are expected to open this year compared with three last year.

“We have a great opportunity to engage new members in key markets. I’m really looking forward to seeing how much more the Sam’s Club team accomplishes this year,” Brewer said.

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