NEW YORK — Solid same-store sales gains in ready-to-wear and intimate apparel, along with strong growth in men’s and children’s, helped bankrupt Bradlees Inc. slash its third-quarter operating loss 63 percent.
The Braintree, Mass.-based discount chain, reorganizing under Chapter 11 since June 1995, reduced its operating loss for the quarter to $13.1 million, compared with a $35.3 million loss a year earlier.
The 110-store chain posted a 5 percent comparable-store sales gain; it was the first time its comps have climbed since the second quarter of 1994.
The net loss for the period ended Nov. 2 came to $23.1 million, after bankruptcy reorganization costs of $8.1 million and interest expense of $1.9 million. The net loss in the prior-year period was $51.1 million, including $13.1 million in reorganization items and $2.7 million in interest costs. Those charges were partly offset by a $12.4 million tax credit.
Even though Bradlees closed 26 stores this year, sales in the quarter edged up 0.4 percent to $420.3 million from $418.7 million.
In the nine months, operating losses were trimmed to $96.2 million from $108.7 million. After reorganization costs, interest and taxes, net losses swelled to $159.6 million from $98.5 million.
Reorganization expenses were $56.5 million in the current year compared with $21 million a year ago. The year-ago results were lifted by a $50.8 million tax credit.
Bradless reported that its borrowings under its debtor-in-possession facility fell below planned levels. As of Nov. 2, the chain had $120 million available under its $200 million DIP line.
Mark A. Cohen, chairman and chief executive officer, said in a statement: “Our strategy of offering higher-value assortments with improved fashion and quality, coupled with significant breakthroughs in merchandise presentation and customer service, has begun to demonstrate positive results.”
Bradlees, which aims to emerge from bankruptcy proceedings in the first half of 1997, is repositioning itself from a low-margin commodity business to a more upscale discounter.