Some Good News
It’s become painful to pick up the business section of the newspaper these days. My once-beloved morning routine now is preceded by trepidation. I find myself asking: What company and/or executive is in the hot seat today? WorldCom, Enron, Martha Stewart, Tyco, Arthur Andersen—once stalwarts in their respective industries—have become poster children for the post-boom era. The result is that fingerpointing has become a new national pastime. Some Democrats are saying the Bush administration hasn’t been hard enough on wayward business executives. Robert Samuelson, who covers the economy for Newsweek, recently wrote that the media is partly to blame. He argues that journalists who incessantly hawk bad business news are contributing to the country’s foul mood and the stock market’s downward spiral.
Samuelson probably is right. And that got me thinking about breaking out of the media pack and offering some positive business coverage—in particular, focusing on the good news coming out of some terrific catalog companies. Following are just a few worthy examples:
• Cintas, a Cincinnati-based multichannel merchant that sells and rents uniforms, recently reported its 32nd consecutive year of uninterrupted growth in sales and profits. For the first nine months of fiscal 2002, the company’s total revenue advanced 4 percent to $1.67 billion, while net income increased 5 percent to $170 million. Moreover, Cintas recently was named by Fortune magazine as one of America’s Most Admired Companies.
• Gift merchant Red Envelope’s Father’s Day catalog reportedly contributed to a 100-percent increase in sales compared to last year.
• The J. Jill Group, a multichannel merchant of women’s apparel, accessories and footwear, recently underwent a three-for-two stock split and expects sales to increase 15 to 20 percent for the balance of fiscal 2002. What’s more, as the rest of the economy floundered in the recession, J. Jill reported record results for the quarter ending March 30: Net sales increased 15.8 percent to $73.4 million.
• And Chico’s, another multichannel merchant of women’s apparel, reported that June sales increased a whopping 42 percent to $46.5 million compared to the same period a year ago.
To be sure, there are many similar success stories in the catalog industry. I’ve selected merely a few to spotlight here. Together they represent a bit of good news in this era of pernicious negativity.