NEW YORK — Two youth-oriented contemporary retailers based in California — Charlotte Russe Holdings and Bebe Stores — kicked off the fourth-quarter earnings season for specialty stores Thursday with unimpressive results but encouraging prospects for improving sales, boosted by more fashion.

While San Diego-based CR — parent of Charlotte Russe stores and Rampage — marked the start of fiscal 2003 without a significant fashion trend to drive business, its management was optimistic about the future, noting it is on track to open new stores this year and next, and detailing plans to offer an array of fashion styles for the spring.

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