NEW YORK — Christopher & Banks Corp.’s first-quarter profits rose 49.1 percent as strong sales, better pricing from its suppliers and fewer markdowns boosted the specialty retailer’s results.

This story first appeared in the June 27, 2002 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The Minneapolis-based company, which operates 392 stores under the Christopher & Banks and C.J. Banks banners, said net income climbed to $9.8 million, or 37 cents a diluted share, for the three months ended June 1. In the comparable period last year, income was $6.6 million, or 25 cents.

Sales for the quarter increased 35.1 percent to $77.8 million from $5.6 million, while same-store sales rose 10 percent.

Joseph Pennington, president and chief operating officer, said on an afternoon conference call, “I believe the improved transactions and continued strong sell-through at regular prices demonstrates the increased acceptance of the C&B and C&J brands as desirable.” He noted sales were strong throughout the quarter as the retailer saw increases in both average store transactions and dollars per transaction. The retailer saw solid sales and merchandise margin growth across all sportswear categories including sweaters, woven tops and pants.

Bill Prange, chairman and chief executive, said in a statement he is encouraged with the initial performance of its newer stores as well as overall activity so far in June, noting that revenues “are tracking to a 10 to 11 percent increase in same-store sales for the month.”

Prange noted that profits exceeded plan and were driven by both strong sales growth and a 220 basis point increase in gross margins.”

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