Charming Shoppes widens Q4 loss, to close 240 stores

Charming ShoppesBensalem, PA–Charming Shoppes Inc. reported Thursday a narrower-than-expected loss as the specialty women’s apparel, footwear and accessories retailer’s holiday fashion assortments pleased consumers and its inventory improved because of higher discounts.

For the quarter ended Jan. 29, the company lost $30.4 million, or 26 cents a share, compared with a loss of $28 million, or 24 cents a share, a year ago.Excluding items, the company reported a loss of 8 cents a share, while revenue rose 7% to $575.8 million. The loss was less than retail analysts had expected: analysts average estimate forecast a loss of 19 cents a share on revenue of $553.1 million.

Anthony Romano Named CEO

The company also appointed  Anthony Romano as its new chief executive officer to replace James Fogarty, who quit in October 2010.

The retailer also announced it would be closing 240 underperforming stores in the coming year as it tries to steer its business back into profit. More than half the stores being shuttered are at its Fashion Bug chain, while all 30 Catherines Plus Sizes operating in outlet locations will be phased out over a two-year period.

“The improvement in our fourth quarter results was driven by a more targeted holiday fashion assortment, an improved in-stock inventory position in our intimate apparel and core bottoms programs, and a more aggressive promotional and advertising program than in previous holiday seasons,” said Anthony Romano

The company also said it expects a “modest” increase in product costs for the spring season, as a result of the sharp rise in the price of cotton-based raw materials. But it warned prices will increase further going into the summer autumn and holiday seasons.

“To mitigate these increases, each brand is planning to selectively increase pricing across its product assortments, while being aware of the competitive environment and the price sensitivity of our customers,” Romano said.

For the year ended 29 January, net loss narrowed to $54.0 million or $0.47 per share, while sales slipped 0.1% to $2.062 billion. Comparable store sales increased 3% for the 12 months.

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