The Bon-Ton Stores Inc. and Stage Stores Inc. both reported first-quarter losses, as Stein Mart Inc. said it saw an increase in earnings for the quarter.


Bon-Ton said its loss for the three months ended April 30 was $36 million, or $2.01 a diluted share, from a loss of $23.5 million, or $1.33, last year. Sales fell 1.7 percent to $649.9 million from $661.4 million as comparable-store sales declined by 1.2 percent.


Bud Bergren, president and chief executive officer, said the first quarter was a challenging period given that most stores are in Northern states which saw “unseasonably cold and wet weather [that] we believe negatively impacted sales of seasonal apparel.”


He added that the company is “comfortable with our current inventory levels and believe the merchandise initiatives we have in place will generate improved performance as we enter the summer season and our apparel assortments change going into fall.”


Stage Stores’ loss was $461,000, or 1 cent a diluted share, against income of $2.2 million, or 6 cents, last year. Sales rose 1.9 percent to $346.5 million from $340 million.


Andy Hall, president and chief executive officer, said, “Adverse February sales, disappointing Easter sales and near-record gasoline prices resulted in flat comparable-store sales for the quarter.” He noted that the February loss forced the company to increase promotional activity in March and April to make up for the sales shortfall.


The bright spot Thursday for the broadline retailers was Stein Mart Inc., which said income for the quarter rose 10.8 percent to $15.9 million, or 35 cents a diluted share, from $14.3 million, or 32 cents, last year. Sales rose .8 percent to $303.5 million from $301 million. Comps increased 1.5 percent for the three-month period.


David H. Stovall, Jr., president and chief executive officer, said, “Customers responded positively to our growing assortment of designer labels and brands at great values.”


For complete coverage, see Friday’s WWD.

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