By  on October 1, 2009

Bernard Chaus Inc. suffered deeper losses on lower sales during the fourth quarter and fiscal year as growth in its Kenneth Cole licensed business failed to compensate for declines in the Cynthia Steffe and private label product lines.

According to the firm’s annual report, filed this week with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the net loss grew to $6 million, or 16 cents a diluted share, in the fourth quarter ended June 30, from a loss of $3.2 million, or 9 cents, in the year-ago quarter. The 2009 loss includes a $2.3 million pretax charge for goodwill impairment. Sales tumbled 22 percent to $19 million from $24.4 million in the prior year. Gross margin fell to 19.5 percent of sales from 25.3 percent in the 2008 period.

For the year, the net loss rose to $9.6 million, or 26 cents a diluted share, from $7.7 million, or 21 cents, in the prior year as sales declined 5 percent to $112.1 million.

The company said for the year, revenues for licensed product lines increased $10.1 million over those in 2008, not enough to offset declines of $8.4 million for private label and $6.9 million for Cynthia Steffe, as well as a $700,000 slide in the Chaus product lines, Josephine Chaus Josephine, Josephine Studio and Chaus.

Addressing gross profit, Chaus reported drops of $3.8 million for Cynthia Steffe, $2 million for Chaus and $1.6 million for private label, while licensed products advanced $4 million.

Bernard Chaus was granted rights as licensee for women’s sportswear under numerous trademarks of Kenneth Cole Productions in 2005. Last year, Kenneth Cole products accounted for 38 percent of revenues, or about $42.6 million, up from 28 percent in 2008 and 17 percent in 2007. This month, Chaus said, KCP waived the minimum net worth requirement in the license agreement through the end of the 2010 fiscal year.

The company’s three largest customers last year were responsible for half its revenues, with Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s Sam’s Club division accounting for 20 percent, The TJX Cos. Inc., 18 percent, and Dillard’s Inc., 12 percent.

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