WARD’S SAYS IT’S SET FINANCIALLY FOR HOLIDAY AND 1998 SELLING
NEW YORK — Montgomery Ward & Co., which filed for bankruptcy protection on July 7, said Thursday that it has “strong liquidity reserves for holiday and the 1998 selling season.”
Roger Goddu, Ward’s chairman and chief executive officer, cited Ward’s liquidity base, which includes $185 million in cash on hand and an undrawn $1 billion debtor-in-possession facility. “This will help us accomplish our objectives and position us for the holiday season and beyond,” Goddu said in a statement.
Some concerns in the market over the strength of Ward’s liquidity prompted the statement Thursday, according to a company spokesman.
The Chicago-based mass merchant also said it is realizing “promising initial results” from its revamped merchandising strategy. Ward’s highlighted its record furniture sales over Labor Day weekend, which included the best furniture volume day in its 125-year history.
Ward’s embarked on a program late last year to stop selling low-margin merchandise such as computers and to market more high-margin goods like apparel and jewelry. Ward’s is attempting to position itself above discounters like Wal-Mart Stores and Kmart Corp. but below department stores such as Sears, Roebuck & Co. and J.C. Penney.
“I think Mr. Goddu is trying to instill a we-can-win spirit at Ward’s,” said Barry Bryant, a retail analyst at Rodman & Renshaw. “Trying to get some positive spirit going is something they have to do, if they are going to get out of Chapter 11.”
Ward’s is “trying to establish a must-win category,” Bryant noted, adding that furniture is one area the chain could dominate because many of its competitors have deemphasized the category.
For the first half of 1997, the company lost $365 million on sales of $2.7 billion. Last year, Ward’s lost $237 million on sales of $6.6 billion.