The holidays did not start off very merrily for Jos. A. Bank Clothiers Inc.
Despite a nearly 20 percent rise in third-quarter profits, the Hampstead, Md.-based men’s wear retailer said Wednesday that the start of the fourth quarter has been challenging.
“The fourth quarter, compared to a very strong performance last year, has started out more slowly than we had planned,” said R. Neal Black, president and chief executive officer. “November comparable-store sales declined, while our direct segment sales increased, compared to the same period last year. As a result, we have adjusted our December merchandising and marketing plans for stores. We believe our efforts will be effective and appealing to our customers.”
The downward trend in recent sales pulled shares of the retailer down $1.89, or 3.7 percent, to $49.28 in Wednesday trading.
In a telephone interview with WWD, Black said sales in the first three weeks of November were “a little slow and Black Friday wasn’t enough to make it back. But it’s really all about the next few weeks.”
The retailer, which has been running aggressive promotions since the start of the recession, said business of late has done nothing to make it change its stance. “We’re looking at how much promotional action it takes to get the customer in to shop,” Black said. In order to spur business, he said the company will explore how to make prices even “sharper” in the future and the company will “get more aggressive” in terms of promotions.
Bank, whose television ads for buy-one-get-two-or-more free have helped change the face of men’s wear retailing over the past several years, did acknowledge that “margins were down a bit” in the third quarter due to the promotional activity. Gross margin for the period slipped 140 basis points to 62.6 percent of sales from 64 percent in the year-ago period.
“If this was 2008 again and the start of the recession, I would never have said we’d still be in the same condition in 2011. I don’t like it if this is the new normal,” he said, “but here we are. Customers want prices and that’s been our way all along.”
On Black Friday, he said Jos. A. Bank experienced strong business with its selection of doorbusters, particularly its merino wool top coat for $99. “We’re surprised at how good it was considering the warm weather, but customers are responding to low prices on known items,” Black said.
Net income in the third quarter ended Oct. 29 was up 19.3 percent to $15 million, or 54 cents a diluted share, ahead of the analyst consensus estimate of 51 cents. In the 2010 period, profits were $12.6 million, or 45 cents. Sales rose 21 percent to $209.6 million from $173.3 million with same-store sales up 14.6 percent.
One bright spot for the company is its Internet business, part of a 28.6 percent jump in direct marketing revenues. “It’s been really great,” Black said. “That’s a new normal that I like. When people are buying tailored clothing electronically, you know something has evolved in the men’s business. The Internet is getting bigger and bigger and we’re ready to handle it.”
For the first nine months, net income was up 18.9 percent to $53.3 million, or $1.91 a diluted share, as sales picked up 17.4 percent to $633.6 million.
The firm will hold a conference call Thursday morning to discuss the results.
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews
“Stranger Things” is getting a new cast member for season 2. Meet @sadiesink_, the 15-year-old who will be joining the Netflix series for its new season. You may recognize her from “The Glass Castle” with Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson, but the Texas native’s next role goes in an entirely different direction. She describes her character, Max, as “a rough and tumble skater girl [who] becomes friends with the boys at school.” The second season debuts on October 27. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdeye
Amid the Harvey Weinstein controversy, there’s another sector that’s being put under the spotlight for sexual abuse: the modeling industry. While rumors about abuse and sexual harassment of female and male models — and the photographers, agents and others who perpetrated it — have circulated within the fashion world for years, model @cameronrussell started posting stories from models on Instagram last week about abusive situations they’ve encountered — from sexual harassment and molestation to attempted rape. Over 75 have weighed in so far. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews
To celebrate its 16th anniversary, @dylanscandybar tapped designers and celebrities to create mosaics out of candy. The mosaics will be auctioned off to support the philanthropic cause of each participant’s choice. Pictured here is the mural created by @aliceandolivia's Stacey Bendet. For a first look at some of the other artwork being unveiled tonight, go to WWD.com. #wwdeye
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye
"Nowadays when life is not so happy with everything going on in the world, I think people come to me for a little bit of whimsy and color and fun." - Designer Rebecca De Ravenel on her cult-favorite jewelry line. (📸 : @vsteves) #wwd40
“Everyone is talking about how the retail industry is struggling, but I think it’s an incredible time because brands who are doing something different and innovative are setting themselves up for the future,” said @adamgoldston, who founded the luxury athletic brand @apl with his brother @ryangoldsten. The Goldston’s are part of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables. See the rest of the list on WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
@eyeswoon blogger Athena Calderone debuted her first-ever cookbook, “Cook Beautiful,” which is heavily centered on the presentation and visual expression of food. Pictured here are her miso glazed carrots from the book. Get the recipe on WWD.com. (📷: @johnny_miller_) #wwdeye