Chico’s FAS Marks Another Down Quarter

Fort Myers, Fla. Disappointing sales at trend-setting retailer Chico’s FAS continued to follow the overall trend of declining sales in women’s apparel.

For the second quarter, Chico’s reported a 7.1% decline in net sales, falling to $405.2 million from $436 million in 2007. Same-store sales were down 15.9% compared to the year-ago period and the month of August suggests little relief. Same-store sales for the opening weeks of the third quarter, through Aug. 24, were running 10.7% below last year.

For the first half of fiscal 2008, the company’s net sales fell 8.4% to $814.8 million vs. $889.1 million in 2007, and same-store sales were down 16.7%.

In terms of brand performance, the company’s White House/Black Market (WHBM) stores performed slightly better than the flagship Chico’s stores. Year-to-date through Aug. 2, same-store sales for the Chico’s brand plummeted 20% and were down approximately 11% at WHBM.

During the second quarter, the company opened 20 new stores and closed one store, bringing the portfolio total to 1,079 locations. There are 619 Chico’s stores, 41 Chico’s outlets, 329 WHBM stores, 19 WHBM outlets, 70 Soma stores and one Soma outlet. Sales for the Soma brand are included in the figures reported for the Chico’s brand.

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