NEW YORK — Gottschalks Inc. trimmed its loss in the first quarter in the face of a tougher year-over-year sales comparison.

The Fresno, Calif.-based retailer on Wednesday reported a net loss of $2 million, or 15 cents a diluted share, for the quarter ended April 30, which compares with a loss of $2.2 million, or 17 cents, in the previous year on total sales that dropped 0.3 percent to $144.1 million from $144.5 million.

Same-store sales for the quarter showed a decline of 0.6 percent. Total revenue, which includes sales, credit revenue and leased department revenue, dropped 0.3 percent to $145.6 million from $146.1 million.

Jim Famalette, president and chief executive officer of Gottschalks, said in a statement that results “were in line with expectations and we are pleased with our bottom-line improvement.”

He added, “We were able to drive sales and increase our bottom line for the quarter despite the more difficult comparison against the first quarter of 2004 when we launched our 100th-year anniversary promotions.”

Famalette said the company opened a store in Oregon, “which contributed to our total sales for the quarter and strengthens our presence in the northern West Coast markets.”

By segment, the home store division was a strong performer in the quarter, Famalette said, adding that the retailer will maintain its previously stated guidance that calls for 2005 earnings of 59 cents to 65 cents, on a same-store sales gain of 2 percent. Separately, the retailer said May same-store sales rose 4.2 percent.

This story first appeared in the June 2, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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