Saturday, March 21, 1998
BUSINESS NOTES: RETAIL
Franklin IGA closes in Ch. 11

BY BY LISA BIANK FASIG
The Cincinnati Enquirer

The operator of Brocke & Paul's IGA stores in Lebanon and Franklin filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection this week and will shutter the Franklin store due to poor performance.

Douglas Tripp, an attorney with Frost & Jacobs representing the retail operator, Geor-Lo Inc., said the plan is to to keep the Lebanon store on Deerfield Road running and file a plan for emergence within 50 days. Geor-Lo filed a small-business Chapter 11, so it must file a plan of emergence within 100 days.

''The Franklin store's been a black hole,'' said Mr. Tripp. ''He (company President Brocke Conard) hasn't been able to make the Franklin store operate profitably.''

Geor-Lo listed assets of $601,000 and liabilities of $855,000. The secured creditor, Provident Bank, is owed $250,000. Among local unsecureds are Pepsi Cola in Hamilton, Home City Ice and the law firm of Vorys, Sater, Seymour & Pease.

Closing date of the Franklin store should be within 30 days, as the retailer first tries to sell out of existing groceries until foot traffic dies off. Then, the store will go dark and serve as a kind of warehouse supplying the Lebanon store with groceries until it is empty.

About 20 workers will be affected bythe closing.

Kroger, Urban League create jobs program

Heads up, financially lean teens: The Kroger Co. is teaming with the Urban League of Greater Cincinnati to put young people to work - perhaps at its stores.

The two have formed YouthWorks, a job training program for kids 14 to 17 years old making their maiden voyage into the work force. Developed by the Urban League's Workforce Development Unit, it is designed to provide real-world expectations of employers and teach necessary job skills.

It's a nine-hour course, to take place over three sessions that will be offered twice, the first beginning in April.

The program is free to participants; Kroger is providing program materials and covering incidental costs. The Urban League is providing the trainers.

Kroger is the first company to partner with the Urban League in this program, and said it will offer program graduates job opportunities at its area stores. Those who successfully complete YouthWorks will be referred to a store for interview.

''This is a mutually beneficial deal,'' said John Schroeder, Kroger human resources manager. ''It helps the young people of the community because they get some job skills, but it also gives Kroger a source of quality people.

''Our intention would be to do more programs like this in the future.''

An information and registration session is scheduled for March 28 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Xavier University Armory Building, 3904 Winding Way. Information and registrationforms also are available. The firstsession begins April 18 and runs three consecutive Saturdays. The second series runs May 16, May 30 and June 6.

Proffitt's records 18% sales hike for '97

Proffitt's Inc. posted an annual sales increase of 18 percent for 1997 over 1996, including sales of both Carson Pirie Scott & Co. and G.R. Herberger's Inc., acquired last year.

Total company sales rose to $3.5 billion from almost $3 billion. Net income after factoring in costs associated with the acquisition of Carson Pirie was $62.7 million, or 71 cents a share. That compares with $97 million, or $1.18 a share in 1996.

Before the costs, Proffitt's posted1997 annual net income of $131.6 million, or $1.46 a share.

Sear's ad campaign plugs 'Service Side'

Sears, Roebuck & Co. is trumpeting its new ''Service Side,'' a play off of its successful ''Softer Side'' campaign that bolstered the retailer's image among female shoppers.

This campaign refers to Sears HomeCentral, a source of home repair and improvement information accessed by calling 1-800-4-MY-HOME. Available 24 hours, every day, it can offer advice on 10 improvement areas, including roofing, siding and windows, heating and cooling, and appliance repair.

Sears is pumping up the volume on its home improvement product just as giants Home Depot and Lowes Cos. Inc. make their Cincinnati entry. Industry analysts have said these two competitors have demonstrated they can compete together in one market, but few others can. Sears, with its mix of merchandise, isn't as threatened, but the emphasis on service could be an effort to control the beating.

Just off the rack

The Body Snatcher beer, wine and tobacco shop in Mt. Auburn has begun carrying hand-rolled, flavored cigars produced in the Dominican Republic for Top Hat Enterprises of Thousand Oaks, Calif. Flavors include cognac, rum, vanilla, almond-brandy, chocolate and cherry.