FINANCE

Off-price retailer to explore alternatives

BY Marianne Wilson

Stein Mart is looking at its options in the wake of declining sales.

The retailer announced it has put together a special committee, appointed by the board, that, along with management, will explore all opportunities to improve operating performance and strategic alternatives. Stein Mart did not set a timetable for completion of this process.

“Given the continuing challenges of the retail environment, it is prudent for us to review our strategic options while focusing on ways to improve our business,” stated CEO Hunt Hawkins, CEO, Stein Mart, which operates 293 stores across 31 states.

Stein Mart’s same-store sales fell 6.9% in its third quarter, on top of a 4.6% decline in the year-ago period. Net loss for the period increased to $14.6 million from $11.0 million. On its earnings conference call, management said the retailer was trimming back excess apparel inventory and working to keep a tighter control on expenses.

Stein Mart’s decline comes as other other-price retailers, including TJX Cos. and Ross, are flourishing. The retailer has struggled to bring in national brands and has been less cost-competitive than some of its rivals, according to CNBC.

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