ABILENE, Kan. — A new era has begun at Duckwall-ALCO Stores, as the company's shareholders have approved the company's name change to ALCO. The change was approved at the company's annual shareholders' meeting on June 27. ALCO Stores also plans to change its ticker symbol on NASDAQ to "ALCS." Both the name change and the change in ticker symbol will be effective as of July 6.
Richard Wilson, president and CEO, commented, "The evolution of the ALCO brand began 40 years ago when the Duckwall family recognized that customers were demanding greater variety and service while still receiving exceptional value. With the changing consumer interests, the company began building larger stores they called ALCO and began phasing out the much smaller 'five and dime' Duckwall stores, culminating with the closure of the remaining stores in 2011. The Duckwall name has been important in our company's 111-year history, and we honor our founder, A.L. Duckwall, in many ways, including the enhancement of the ALCO brand."
During the annual meeting, Wilson also outlined initiatives to drive further improvement in financial results, even in the midst of the current challenging economy:
Regional pricing -- identifying opportunities to price specific items differently in different ALCO markets, depending on regional competitive situations, while maintaining ALCO's superior value positioning with shoppers in each market.
Regional merchandising -- tailoring product offerings for specific needs in ALCO regions. For example, ALCO has seen good results from adding fire-retardant clothing in stores in oil-drilling areas and higher-end outdoor apparel in areas frequented by outdoors enthusiasts, like Colorado and other Western states.
Ecommerce -- now offering 10,000 items, a number that will continue to grow, in a well-designed online store launched this month. The www.ALCOstores.com site reinforces brand loyalty of current ALCO shoppers and is beginning to add new customers, Wilson said. He expects the ecommerce store to become ALCO's largest store, adding to sales and earnings, with lower overhead offsetting thinner gross margins.
Wilson also addressed steps ALCO is taking to rationalize its real estate portfolio. He explained that five new stores are slated to open in fiscal 2013 -- targeting robust regional economies, such as those in energy exploration areas -- while eight underperforming locations are expected to close. He explained that ALCO stores in energy regions are significantly outperforming the average of all 216 stores.
Wilson concluded, "Improving productivity and profitability across the store base takes time -- and we are proceeding cautiously -- but we believe there is potential to significantly improve shareholder returns."