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Borders, BAM, Zany Brainy Post Holiday Gains
Jim Milliot &Leah Eichler -- 1/17/00

A week after Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com and Noodle Kidoodle reported strong holiday book sales, Borders Group, Books-A-Million and Zany Brainy all announced solid revenue gains in the 1999 holiday period.

Total revenues for Borders rose 16.2% for the fiscal fourth quarter-to-date through January 9, 2000, to $982.6 million. The increase was led by a 20.1% jump in sales to $571.2 million at the company's superstores; comparable-store sales at the superstores rose 6.4%. Sales at Waldenbooks increased 11.2% in the period to $475.8 million, with same-store sales up 3.6%. Sales at Borders.com shot up 181% to $6.2 million. Borders's president, Greg Josefowicz, said he was pleased with the company's performance, noting that its convergence strategy had helped increase sales, citing as an example a 36.9% gain in special-order sales in the reported period.

BAM reported that sales for the nine-week period ended January 1, 2000, increased 16.7% to $106.8 million, with comparable-store sales ahead 10.4%. BAM CEO Clyde Anderson said gains were led by its core book business as well as a good performance from its collectibles category. Sales through booksamillion.com were said to have exceeded expectations, although BAM did not provide a breakout of its online unit's contribution to total revenues.

At Zany Brainy, sales for the six-week period ended December 25, 1999, rose 45% to $87.6 million. Comparable-store sales were up 8.0%. Company chairman and CEO Keith Spurgeon said sales were helped by the addition of a toll-free number to order products from its catalogue as well as by the mid-November launch of its Web site. "Our high-growth strategy of merging bricks, clicks and catalogue to build the Zany Brainy brand is firmly in place," Spurgeon said.

Sales Surge at Chapters.ca

Up North, Chapters Online reported that sales for the third quarter ended January 1 totaled C$12.2 million, compared to C$600,000 in last year's third period. Sales for the first nine months of fiscal 2000 were C$22.2 million.

The online retailer has taken a page out of Amazon.com's book by expanding into a number of areas beyond books. During the quarter, Chapters Online added electronics, video games and gifts to its offerings. On January 6, the company acquired GardenCrazy.com, a gardening Web site with 45,000 members. Chapters plans to launch a new Web site targeted to the Canadian home and garden market.

The acquisition of GardenCrazy.com is just the first in what will likely be an aggressive expansion of the Chapters.ca site. David Hainline, executive v-p of marketing and merchandising for Chapters Online, told PW, "We have been pretty clear, even in our IPO, that we are an e-commerce business, and while we are born of books and Chapters, that we would look at a wide range of businesses." New sites to come may involve kitchen, cooking and home decor.

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