FINANCE

Weather bites into Bon-Ton Q1 results

BY Dan Berthiaume

York, Pa. – Adverse weather that lasted longer into the first quarter of fiscal 2014 than anticipated bit into income and sales at The Bon-Ton Stores Inc. Net loss grew to $31.5 million from $26.6 million a year earlier, and net sales dropped 6% to $607.46 million from $647.9 million.

Same-store sales declined 5.8%. In addition to weather, the extinguishment of mortgage and senior note redemption debt also contributed to net loss growth.

“We forecasted our first quarter sales to reflect weather challenges, but the prolonged adverse conditions resulted in a financial performance below our expectations,” said Brendan Hoffman, chairman and CEO of Bon-Ton. “We saw an improvement in sales performance mid-April as the weather became more seasonal and traffic trends improved dramatically. Despite our shortfall in sales, we were able to achieve a higher gross margin rate, control expenses and effectively manage our inventory such that we ended the quarter with retail inventory levels 1.7% below that of the prior year on a comparable store basis.”

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FINANCE

Children’s Place net income, sales fall in Q1; to expand in Latin America

BY Dan Berthiaume

Secaucus, N.J. – The Children’s Place Retail Stores Inc. saw net income and sales fall during the first quarter of fiscal 2014, compared to the same quarter a year earlier. The company plans to open 25 new North American stores, 10 fewer than originally planned, and close 35 stores for a net reduction of 10 stores during the fiscal year.

Net income totaled $13.6 million, down 29% from $19.27 million, while net sales were $410.1 million, a 3% drop from $423.2 million. Same-store sales declined 3.6%. Declining gross profits caused by deleveraging of the sales base and merchandise margin helped drive down net income, while foreign currency fluctuations impacted net sales.

Looking ahead, Children’s Place expects a same-store sales decline in the low single digits for fiscal 2014. In addition, Children’s Place has partnered with Grupo David, a retail corporation headquartered in Panama, to expand its brand to Latin America and the Caribbean with the potential to open 35 to 40 stores in the next few years beginning in the fall of 2014.

"We delivered first quarter results which exceeded our expectations despite weather challenges that continued into early April,” said Jane Elfers, president and CEO. “We achieved a positive 9% sales comp in April with the benefit of a later Easter and normalized weather patterns in the Northeast and Midwest regions of the United States. Our sales acceleration is a positive catalyst as we move forward into the second quarter.”

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FINANCE

Kirkland’s kicks up income, sales in Q1

BY Dan Berthiaume

Nashville, Tenn. – Kirkland’s Inc. reported positive results for the first quarter of fiscal 2014. On a year-over-year basis, net income grew 17% to $2.1 million from $1.8 million.

Net sales increased 6.9% to $108.3 million compared with $101.2 million, and same-store sales grew 5%. The company was able to shake off the effects of bad weather in the early part of the quarter.

“We are pleased with the sales momentum during the quarter in our stores and online after the slower start related to adverse weather events,” said Robert Alderson, president and CEO of Kirkland’s. “Despite a somewhat more promotional environment late in the quarter, sales remained strong leading to earnings performance at the high end of our guidance. The year thus far is proceeding according to our plan, and we continue to expect benefits for the balance of the year from our investments in store growth, merchandise systems, e-commerce and branding initiatives.”

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