FEWER MARKDOWNS HELP SYMS CUT LOSS

NEW YORK — An easing of markdown pressures helped Syms Corp. reduce its losses for the second quarter of the year.
For the 13 weeks ended Aug. 26, the Secaucus, N.J.-based off-price retailer reported net losses of $3 million, or 19 cents a diluted share, 15.6 percent below the $3.5 million, or 21 cent, loss from the prior-year quarter. Sales increased 2.5 percent to $74.6 million, while comparable-store sales declined 0.1 percent against a 5.8 percent drop a year ago.
Antone Moreira, vice president and chief financial officer, told WWD, “The quarter was an improvement over last year’s due to higher gross sales and improved gross profit. We took heavier markdowns to clear out old inventory last year which wasn’t necessary in the quarter we just completed.”
Gross margin in the quarter expanded 11.7 percent to $26.7 million while operating expenses grew at a less rapid 6.6 percent pace, to $31.7 million.
At the end of its last fiscal year, 54 percent of Syms’ revenues were attributable to men’s apparel, 30 percent to women’s, 7 percent to children’s, 7 percent to footwear and 2 percent to luggage, domestics and fragrances.
For the half, Syms’ net loss was $2.8 million, or 18 cents a share, up from a loss of $2.7 million, or 16 cents, during the first six months of last year. Sales were up 2.1 percent to $155.8 million from $152.6 million. Comp-store sales declined 1.1 percent, better than last year’s drop of 8.4 percent.
Moreira said no new stores were opened during the first half of the year and none are planned either for the second half or for next year. Syms currently operates 47 off-price apparel stores, predominantly in the Northeast and Middle Atlantic.

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