The Bon-Ton Stores Inc. widened its first-quarter net loss, and saw both sales and comparable store sales drop as well.

For the three months ended April 29, the net loss grew to $57.3 million, or $2.86 a diluted share, from a net loss of $37.8 million, or $1.91. Net sales fell 9.3 percent to $536.1 million from $591 million. The retailer said comps declined 8.8 percent compared with the year-ago period.

Kathryn Bufano, president and chief executive officer, said, “Our first quarter results did not meet our expectations due primarily to weak mall traffic trends, unfavorable weather and marketing challenges associated with the Easter calendar shift.”

She added that the company’s omnichannel business “once again generated double-digit growth and we continued to expand our merchandise offering with highly recognized brands as well as exclusive and private brands that resonate with our customers.”

Bufano said the company will continue to make enhancements to its omnichannel strategy, expand its merchandise assortment and elevate marketing programs. “In addition, we expect to achieve additional cost reductions in fiscal 2017 through the rollout of our internal profit improvement initiative,” the ceo said.

The company said its other income was $16.9 million, a decrease of $500,000 from the year-ago period. That was largely due to lower revenues connected with the company’s proprietary credit card operations. Proprietary credit card sales, as a percentage of total sales, rose 90 basis points to 55.8 percent during the first quarter.

For fiscal 2017, the company said it “continues to expect” a per share loss to be in the range of $2.08 to $2.59. Bon-Ton is expecting a comps decline of 3 percent to 4 percent, and a gross margin rate of flat to up 10 basis points over the fiscal 2016 rate of 35.5 percent.

Earlier this month, Bufano resigned from the company, effective Aug. 25,  upon the expiration of her contract.  The company has selected William Tracy, the current chief operating officer, to succeed her as president and ceo.

 

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