VENTURE STORES POSTS SMALL RISE IN FOURTH PERIOD

NEW YORK — Venture Stores launched a TV, radio and newspaper ad campaign on Monday to promote its repositioning effort and got another boost on Tuesday when it reported a 2.4 percent gain in net profits before charges in the fourth quarter.
Earnings available to common shareholders totaled $26.1 million, or $1.51 a share, compared with $25.5 million, or $1.48, in the year-ago quarter. Last month, Venture said it expected income before special charges to fall in the range of $24.7 million to $25.9 million. After pretax charges of $20.8 million related to the repositioning, however, profits in the quarter tumbled 46.7 percent to $12.6 million, or 73 cents a share.
The O’Fallon, Mo.-based retailer earned $23.7 million, or $1.37 a share, after a $3 million charge in the year-ago quarter. Additionally, there was a LIFO credit of $6.9 million in the latest quarter compared with a $4.3 million credit in the year-ago quarter.
Sales fell 16.1 percent to $586.5 million from $699.2 million in the quarter.
The chain’s repositioning plan, aimed at making Venture a family-oriented department store, involves dropping low-margin businesses such as hardware and automotive to make room for expanded apparel assortments, including special shops for petites, plus sizes and men’s big and tall sizes.
New women’s merchandise includes Cherokee, J.G. Hook and Gloria Vanderbilt, according to Venture.
Venture, which spent $42 million to remodel stores and implement the repositioning, will officially reveal the results on Thursday with special events and promotions at all 115 stores. To boost business, the chain is offering five Hawaiian cruises for two, 10 $1,000 shopping sprees and instant scratch-and-win games.
The ads all sound the theme, “See what’s new for you at Venture.”

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