Bon-Ton Narrows 2Q Loss

York, PA–The Bon-Ton Stores Inc., the parent company of Carson Pirie Scott, Elder-Beerman, Herberger’s and Younkers and other department store chains, reported today a slightly narrower loss for the second quarter.

For its second quarter ended July 31, the company posted a net loss of $33.7 million, or $1.91 per share, a 3% decline compared with a net loss of $34.8 million, or $2.04 per share, the year before.

Sales for the quarter slipped to $608.6 million from $609.2 million a year ago. Comparable store sales at stores for the quarter increased 0.2%, while year-to-date comparable store sales increased 1.6%.

Increased Gross Margins

Based on reducing its discounted clearance merchandise and tighter inventory controls, the company increased its gross margin rate 90 basis points to 38% of net sales, compared with 37.1% in the second quarter of fiscal 2009.

Noting that the company “is on the right track,”  Bon-Ton also updated its earnings guidance to a range of 80 cents to $1.35 a share, lowering the upper limit of its earlier view from $1.60 a share. The average expectation from retail analysts is 74 cents. Bud Bergren, Bon-Ton’s Milwaukee-based president and ceo, said results met management expectations, noting the improved gross margin and expense reduction efforts

“Overall, we were very pleased with our performance in the first half of fiscal 2010,” Bergren said. “Customers responded favorably to our merchandise assortment, including our exclusive private brands and national brands, while e-commerce continued its significant growth.”

Bon-Ton Stores, which maintains financial offices in York, PA, and merchandising offices in Milwaukee, operates 281 stores in 23 states. Among the stores operated by the company include: Bon-Ton, Bergner’s, Boston Store, Carson Pirie Scott, Elder-Beerman, Herberger’s and Younkers and, in the Detroit area, under the Parisian name.

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