CACHE QUARTERLY NET DROPS ON MARKDOWNS

NEW YORK — Cache Inc., which operates women’s apparel and accessories stores under the names Cache and Lillie Rubin, said disappointing sales and resultant heavy markdowns drove fourth-quarter net income down nearly 60 percent.
The New York-based firm reported income fell to $1 million, or 11 cents a share, for the three months ended Dec. 30. That compares to income of $2.6 million, or 27 cents, in the year-ago period.
The 215-unit chain also reported sales increased 6.2 percent, to $53.7 million from $50.6 million, and comparable-store sales rose 2 percent.
“It was a tough quarter for a lot of retailers, including us,” Thomas E. Reinckens, president and chief operating officer, said. “We have tried to bring inventories to a more realistic number for the economic situation and stay clean, while still providing fashion merchandise to get a little bit more of limited market share.”
Although March sales have been soft, Reinckens said the firm has remained “cautiously optimistic” it can match or beat last year’s earnings of 4 cents in the first quarter. He noted that January and February positive comp results, up 7 and 10 percent, respectively, are a good indication Cache’s business could turn around in the spring. He said tops and bottoms, styled in silk, Lycra and knits, are doing well.
“Obviously, retailers are at the front end of feeling the [economic] pinch,” Reinckens observed.
For the year, the company reported income fell 72.5 percent, to $1.1 million, or 12 cents a share, from $4 million, or 43 cents. Sales rose 9.4 percent, to $176.5 million from $161.4 million, while same-store sales increased 3 percent
The firm opened eight Cache stores and eight Lillie Rubin stores during 2000, and plans about 10 new stores this year.