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SWISS ARMY DULLS IN 2001

Byline: Jennifer Weitzman

NEW YORK — Swiss Army Brands Inc., citing weaknesses in its Swiss Army Knives and watch categories, reported losses for the fourth quarter and year, reversing year-ago earnings.
For the three months ended Dec. 31, the Shelton, Conn.-based firm recorded a loss totaling $1.2 million, or 15 cents a diluted share, versus profits of $793,000, or 10 cents, reached in last year’s quarter. Earnings in both years were affected by investment gains and charges outside of the company’s operations.
Net sales were sliced 12.7 percent to $38.8 million from $44.4 million.
President Jeff Turner blamed the slowdown in consumer spending following Sept. 11 for the losses. But to help rebuild the firm, Turner said the company would focus on brand development. “We continue to place emphasis on the revitalization of our core knife and watch businesses and on supporting the exciting momentum of our new licensed travel gear and apparel categories.”
Swiss Army Brands launched its first flagship retail store on Oct. 28, following several weeks of delay due to the events of Sept. 11. The 3,500-square-foot store is situated near the corner of West Broadway and Prince Street in Manhattan’s SoHo section.
For the year, SAB losses reached $4.2 million, or 39 cents a diluted share, versus profits of $2 million, or 25 cents, in 2000. Sales were down 13.2 to $114.6 million from $132 million.
Although the year turned out to be “difficult,” Thomas Lipinski, chief financial officer, told WWD the company is well along its way to revitalizing its core products and, to help lift sagging sales, will put in place an expanded direct sales force for its watch collection.

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