“We have made significant progress against the Expressway Forward strategy [that] we launched early last year,” Tim Baxter, chief executive officer of Express, said in a statement. “Our transformation is well underway, customer response to our product assortment and brand positioning has been very positive and our performance has begun to reflect the strength of our strategy.
“First-quarter results exceeded our expectations across all channels and drove a $130 million improvement in our operating cash flow,” he continued. “We are well positioned for the post-pandemic world; we are on track to achieve our goal of $1 billion in e-commerce demand by 2024, and I expect that we will return to positive operating cash flow in the second quarter and positive EBITDA in the third quarter.”
Thursday morning’s earnings report revealed total revenues for the three-month period ending May 1 of more than $345 million, compared with $210 million during 2020’s first quarter. Still, the company lost $45.7 million during the quarter. That’s on top of a $154 million loss last year.
But Baxter said last quarter’s results exceeded expectations. And as consumers become more and more comfortable returning to work and social events, demand continues to accelerate.
“We experienced an inflection point in our business after Easter as more people were vaccinated and states began lifting restrictions,” Baxter said. “As some people resumed pre-pandemic routines and began attending occasions, we have also seen improved trends in our historically dominant occasion-based and wear-to-work product categories, while continuing our momentum and growth in our ‘new core’ such as denim and Express Essentials. As a result, our store sales, plus demand in the second quarter of 2021 to date, are exceeding 2019 levels on a comparable basis.”
Express ended the quarter with $190 million in long-term debt, $84 million in cash and cash equivalents and more than 500 stores in the U.S. and Puerto Rico.
The company is now expecting sequential comparable sales improvement throughout the year. Shares of Express, which closed up 36.48 percent to $6.51 a piece, are up more than 248 percent, year-over-year.