NEW YORK — Value City Department Stores managed a profit for the quarter and narrowed its losses for the year.

For the three months ended Feb. 1, net income was $5.3 million, or 16 cents a share, against a loss of $8.7 million, or 26 cents, in the year-ago quarter. Sales were up 7.2 percent to $678.8 million from $632.9 million.

James McGrady, chief financial officer, said during a conference call that the firm expected to open between one and three Filene’s Basement stores in 2003. While no new Value City stores are scheduled to open, the cfo said VC officials "continue to explore real estate opportunities as they present themselves."

John Rossler, president and chief executive officer, said of the restructuring initiatives begun last year that the priority was to return Value City Department Stores to an operating profit. On Tuesday, Rossler said it had achieved that goal "for the first time since 1999."

As reported, the company has been working on moving its value city buying office from Boston to New York City. That was accomplished this month.

For the year, VC’s loss was narrowed to $3.7 million, or 11 cents a share, from $28.7 million, or 85 cents, in the prior year. Sales rose 7.3 percent to $2.45 billion from $2.28 billion.

Rossler told analysts that while 2001 was marked by poor sales and lower margins, 2002 showed improved margins even though sales were difficult.

Edwin Kozlowski, chief operating officer, said the company was testing a few new "models" that could potentially be rolled out in stores. The focus in general is the development of a retail strategy for 2003 and beyond that incorporates new merchandising content that is more aligned with the needs and wants of Value City’s customers.

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