Belk Inc. generated a profit, versus a year-ago loss, and slowed the pace of its sales erosion in the fourth quarter.
During the three months ended Jan. 30, the Charlotte, N.C.-based department store operator generated net income of $56.7 million versus a loss of $202.8 million in the 2008 quarter, when the company recorded about $324 million in pretax impairment charges. Sales declined 1.3 percent to $1.1 billion from $1.11 billion in the prior-year quarter, and gross margin improved to 34.3 percent of sales from 31.1 percent.
For the full year, net income hit $67.1 million versus a prior-year loss of $213 million. Belk said that, excluding one-time items, such as $245.6 million in aftertax goodwill impairment charges in 2008, profits for the year would have been $95.2 million, 79.3 percent above the prior-year figure of $53.1 million. Sales fell 4.4 percent to $3.35 billion from $3.5 billion in fiscal 2008, and same-store sales decreased 4.6 percent. Gross margin improved to 32.1 percent of sales from 30.6 percent in the prior year.
“We saw steadily improving sales trends in the third and fourth quarters of the year and are encouraged about our results, especially improvements in our merchandise margins,” said Tim Belk, chairman and chief executive officer of the company.
The retailer didn’t furnish fourth-quarter results when it released year-end numbers Thursday, but figures were gleaned by subtracting results for the nine months from those for the fiscal year.
Belk, the largest privately held department store company in the U.S., said Thursday that, in addition to its regular dividend of 40 cents a share, it would pay a special 40 cent a share dividend to holders of record Thursday. Additionally, the company has offered to buy back 2.88 million shares of common stock at $26 a share, beginning on or about April 21.
Belk operates 306 department stores, most in the Southeast. The firm plans no additional stores this year.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast