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CEO: CarMax Focused On Customer Experience

MICHAEL FELBERBAUM

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) â¿¿ Used car retailer CarMax Inc. continues to focus on improvements to better serve customers and grow its business, CEO Tom Folliard told shareholders at its annual meeting Monday.

The head of the Richmond-based company said CarMax is enhancing its website, changing its existing store model to improve efficiency and the customer experience. It also is developing alternative and smaller store models to help it enter new or smaller markets in the U.S. Some stores are even using iPads and other technology to assist customers.

"Really we've been evolving CarMax for 15 years," Folliard said. "That's the end-game goal: Give them a better experience from the time they walk in the door to the time they leave so they are more likely to buy a car and they're more likely to tell their friends about it."

CarMax has seen its performance improve as a result of sales increases, cost-cutting efforts and gains from its financing division. But low consumer confidence, tighter lending standards and high unemployment have hindered the industry's recovery. Used car sales have typically been strong during the recession as buyers looked to cut costs out of job security fears.

In the last fiscal year, the company saw its earnings grow 10 percent to $413.8 million. Revenue increased 11 percent to a record $10 billion as it sold more than 408,000 used vehicles and an additional 316,649 vehicles at wholesale auction. Sales at stores open at least one year grew 1 percent during the fiscal year after increasing 10 percent the year earlier.

Last week, the company reported a 4 percent decline in its first-quarter profit on lackluster sales and profit margins. Revenue grew 3.5 percent, but was below Wall Street expectations. Sales at stores open at least one year were flat for the quarter after rising 6 percent and 9 percent in the same quarter the last two fiscal years.

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