York, PA–Bon-Ton Stores Inc. today reported that its second quarter loss widened as sales edged downward.
For the quarter ended July 28, Bon-Ton reported a loss of $45 million, or $2.43 a share, compared with a loss of $32.3 million, or $1.78 a share, a year earlier. The most-recent quarter included refinancing-related charges of 34 cents a share and 21 cents a share for severance and other one-time costs.
Total revenue 0.3% to $607.3 million, but comparable store sales grew 0.1%. Gross margin fell to 36% from 37.2%.
Commenting on the report, Brendan Hoffman, presidet/ceo, said, “In the second quarter, we continued to identify and implement initiatives to improve our business. While the financial results were below last year, we are encouraged by the progress we have made in several areas, including merchandising, e-commerce and marketing.”
Hoffman said the company saw significant improvement in its ready-to-wear businesses, particularly moderate traditional sportswear, and cosmetics, shoes, and home including furniture.
“We were particularly pleased with favorable customer response to new offerings, reflecting recent adjustments in our merchandise assortments. In addition, customers are responding extremely well to new marketing messages that clearly communicate the value we offer,” Hoffman said.
Bon-Ton recently hired Luis Fernandez, a former Neiman Marcus Group executive, in April to fill its new chief marketing officer position, putting him in charge of sales promotions, marketing and e-commerce.
The company also lowered its full year guidance, saying its bottom-line will range from a loss of $1.35 to a profit of 20 cents. In May, the company forecast ranged from a loss of 95 cents to a profit of 50 cents a share.
Bon-Ton recently sold $475 million worth of private label credit card accounts to Alliance Data Systems Corp –a move that will help the company’s bottom line, Hoffman said.
“We believe that our relationship with ADS will assist us in building our customer base, growing customer loyalty, communicating more effectively with our valued customers and driving sales,” he said.