• SYMS LOSS NARROWS: Improved gross margins and a onetime real estate gain helped off-pricer Syms Corp. reduce its second-quarter losses. In the three months ended Aug. 30, the Secaucus, N.J.-based retailer had a net loss of $1.3 million, or 9 cents a share, versus a loss of $1.4 million, or 10 cents, in the 2007 period. Sales declined 3.8 percent, to $59 million from $61.4 million, and dropped 2.5 percent on a same-store basis. However, gross margin increased to 39.2 percent of sales in the most recent quarter, versus 36.7 percent in the year-ago period. The loss in the 2008 quarter was reduced by a $548,000 pretax gain on the sale of a parcel of land. In the first half of the fiscal year, the net loss dropped to $669,000, or 5 cents a share, from $748,000, also 5 cents. Sales fell 3.8 percent, to $123.6 million, and dipped 2.4 percent on a comparable-store basis.


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