Big Lots officials are hammering away at numerous changes they hope will fatten the bottom line, company executives told investors at a recent conference. They're so confident, in fact, that they recently initiated a cash-dividend program for shareholders, a first for the company. Many of the changes are those that have been reported before: making furniture a key part of the business, becoming the Hostess snack-cake thrift outlet, and working harder to appeal to Big Lots’ target customer, nicknamed "Jennifer." But one change that's underway might surprise the industry and customers alike: improvement to the store's electronic security systems.

The Container Store has installed Jennifer VoicePlus for voice picking in its Dallas distribution center. At the Modex trade show in Atlanta last month, Christy Parra, logistics systems director at The Container Store, described the company's employee-first approach to the selection, implementation and start up of the Jennifer VoicePlus System.

Chico’s FAS is considering international expansion in addition to plans to open about 120 net new stores in 2012, executives said Tuesday as they outlined growth plans for investment and security analysts. The Fort Myers-based women’s clothing company previewed growth plans for about 50 analysts at the national store support center on Metro Parkway. The company operates 1,256 stores under the brands Chico’s, White House/Black Market and Soma Intimates, plus Boston Proper, an online and catalog retailer. The company operates White House/Black Market and Chico’s stores in Puerto Rico and White House/Black Market store in the Virgin Islands, but

New York City -- Modell’s Sporting Goods said Tuesday it will celebrate the grand opening of three new locations in Brooklyn, N.Y., Fresh Meadows, N.Y., and Wayne, N.J., on March 8. The Fresh Meadows store measures 13,000 sq. ft., the Wayne store is 16,700 sq. ft., and the Brooklyn store is 15,900 sq. ft. In other company news, Modell’s has added two buyers to its corporate staff. Jennifer (Smith) Anderson joins Modell’s as the Women’s Athletic Buyer, having spent the past eight years as a buyer for Academy Sports + Outdoors. Jeff Shaffer will also join the team as

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