1ST QUARTER EARNINGS, SALES JUMP AT CHICO’S

NEW YORK — Comparable-store sales soared 30.9 percent and net earnings skyrocketed 77.3 percent at Chico’s FAS Inc. during the first quarter.
For the quarter ended April 29, the Fort Myers, Fla.-based private-label women’s casual clothing chain had income of $7.5 million, or 42 cents a diluted share, compared with $4.2 million, or 24 cents, in the comparable 1999 period. The earnings-per-share results for 1999 have been adjusted to reflect a stock split in January.
Total sales leaped 55.6 percent to $56.7 million from $36.4 million. Sales by company-owned stores were up 55.9 percent to $55.7 million, versus $35.7 million in the year-ago period, while sales to franchisees increased 43.6 percent to $1 million from $703,681.
Chico’s operates 207 stores in 37 states and the District of Columbia. Of these, 197 are company-owned and the remaining 10 are franchises.
In a statement, Marvin Gralnick, Chico’s chief executive officer, attributed the firm’s robust performance in the quarter to “focusing on our customer’s needs combined with outstanding design and quality, and our direct mail and national magazine advertising program. We are rapidly building a very strong brand.”
He added, “Our strong same-store sales trend is continuing into the second quarter as we are experiencing strong sales increases in our comp stores for May.”
The company opened an e-commerce site this week at chicos.com.