BELK PLANS 5 NEWS UNITS

NEW YORK — Belk Inc. on Friday said it plans to open nine new stores and close four over the year ahead. The Charlotte, N.C.-based retailer also reported a $2.5 million drop in net income on a 0.6 percent increase in sales for the third quarter.
The privately held retailer, which releases its financial results because of public bonds, said it plans to expand into five new markets next year: Jasper, Ala.; Norcross, Ga.; Rogers, Ark.; Morristown, Tenn., and McDonough, Ga. It also plans to close four existing stores as it replaces them with new units in Durham, Morehead City and Raleigh, N.C., and in Newnan, Ga.
In total, the changes will increase the 210-store chain’s retail square footage by 4 percent.
The company, which this year launched its first e-commerce site, said it has realigned that operation to focus on bridal and gift registries. Belk incurred unspecified charges during the quarters related to that change and to the planned store replacements.
In a statement, the company said its third-quarter net income was down $2.5 million including the one-time events but would have been up $4.4 million excluding those items. The statement did not provide the company’s actual net income for the the quarter ended Nov. 3; however, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the retailer recorded a net loss of $1.2 million for the quarter ended Oct. 28, 2000.
Sales for the 2001 quarter were up 0.6 percent to $507.9 million, with comparable-store sales dipping 0.7 percent.
“The refocusing of our e-commerce business, along with aggressive store expansion plans next year and excellent results from a company-wide cost-management effort, are strengthening our company for the future,” said John M. Belk, chairman and chief executive, in the statement.
For the nine months, net income was down $11.7 million including all one-time charges and gains, and down $2 million excluding those items. Prior-year earnings were $17.1 million, according to the SEC filing.
Sales for the nine months were up 0.5 percent, to $1.51 billion. Comps were off 0.3 percent for that period.
So far this year, the company has spent $89.8 million on property and equipment.

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