NEW YORK — Belk Inc. reported vigorous profits gains on strong sales in the second quarter.

In the three months ended July 31, the Charlotte, N.C.-based department store operator registered net income of $14.9 million, 67.4 percent above the year-ago mark of $8.9 million. Sales ramped up 9 percent to $536.4 million from $492.1 million, while same-store sales moved ahead 4.9 percent.

Men’s and women’s sportswear were identified as top-performing merchandising areas, as was private label merchandise in general.

“Effective execution of spring merchandising initiatives enabled Belk to take advantage of the upswing in consumer demand and realize outstanding comp-store sales gains and gross margin results for the period,” said Tim Belk, chairman and chief executive, in a statement. “Expense management also contributed to our positive results.”

Selling, general and administrative expenses dropped to 26.9 percent of sales from 27.5 percent in the prior-year period, despite rising by 6.7 percent to $144.2 million.

In the first half of the fiscal year, net income increased 67.8 percent, to $38.6 million from $23 million, as sales rose 9.2 percent to $1.09 billion. Comparable-store sales were up 5.3 percent.

Belk, which operates 225 stores in 14 Southeastern states, is the largest privately held department store company in the U.S. It discloses its earnings because of public debt.

— Arnold J. Karr

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