Lower sales, slimmer gross margin’s and consumer resistance to price increases led The Bon-Ton Stores Inc. to significantly steeper third-quarter losses.


The York, Pa.-based department store’s deficit widened to $22 million, or $1.21 a share, from $6.3 million, or 36 cents, a year earlier. Revenues for the three months ended Oct. 29 fell 6.5 percent to $670.6 million from $716.9 million as comparable-store sales slipped 5.9 percent. Gross margins shrank to 37.4 percent of sales from 38.2 percent.


“Our third-quarter performance did not meet our expectations. Performance in our moderate traditional assortments was soft and customers were not accepting of price increases in these categories, which further pressured sales results,” said Bud Bergren, president and chief executive officer, who has said he will pass off the ceo title once a successor is found.


“We believe our inventory is now priced appropriately and well-positioned heading into the holiday season and the changes we have instituted in merchandising and marketing will yield improved results in the fourth quarter,” Bergren said.


Bon-Ton said the fourth quarter could possibly swing the company into the black for the year. The firm expects its bottom line for the year to range from a loss of 65 cents a diluted share to a profit of 25 cents.

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