By  on April 22, 2008

ATLANTA — Calling the first quarter of 2008 a challenging one, Eddie Bauer Holdings, Inc., said in a preliminary report of results that its total comparable-store sales rose a mere 0.5 percent in the three months ended March 29, 2008.

That compares with a 9.5 percent increase in the year ago quarter. Comparable-store sales for the company’s full-price stores increased 2.9 percent on top of a 16.4 percent increase in the first quarter of 2007, and comps for the outlets decreased 3.1 percent compared to a 0.3 percent increase a year ago.

Sales from Eddie Bauer’s direct channel, which includes Internet and catalog sales, increased 0.3 percent on top of a 16.3 percent increase in the first quarter of 2007. Preliminary total net merchandise sales, including stores opened and closed in 2008, were $198 million, down $1.7 million from the prior year’s first quarter.

Neil S. Fiske, president and CEO, said, “This was a challenging quarter for us, given the overall downturn in retail, our higher starting inventory position and the restructuring costs we took in the quarter. Overall, I am pleased with our progress and ability to navigate these challenges. We remain confident in our ability to execute our multi-year turnaround plan.”

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