Minneapolis—Even though many of its stores are located in the Midwest, which has had a particularly frigid winter so far, Christopher & Banks Corp. reported today its fourth quarter loss narrowed on reduced costs and better margins.
For the quarter ended Feb. 1, the women’s specialty retailer posted a loss of $300,000, or 1 cent a share, compared with a net loss of $4.1 million, or 11 cents a share, in the year-ago quarter. Analysts’ estimate expected a bigger loss of 3 cents a share.
Net revenue fell 9.5% to $104.9 million, missing analysts’ estimate for $106.2 million.
‘On Track with 3-Year Growth Plan’
Comparable store sales were down 1.4% compared with an 18.5% drop a year ago.
During the quarter, the company operated an average of 43, or 6.9% fewer stores than during the comparable period last year.
Gross margin widened to 32.5% from 30.2% primarily due to merchandise buying and occupancy costs declining 13%. In January, the company said it expected its margins to grow as the company had fewer promotions than expected.
Total costs and expenses declined to $105.44 million from $120 million in the previous year, mainly due to lower merchandise, buying and occupancy expenses.
“Despite the negative sales impact from temporary store closings and challenging traffic trends caused by the multiple snow storms and arctic temperatures during the fourth quarter, we met our quarterly financial goals,” said LuAnn Via, president/ceo. “We were very pleased with the strong customer response to our merchandise offering and marketing efforts on days that were not adversely affected by weather.”
Looking ahead, Christopher & Banks forecast comp store sales to be about flat for its first quarter and that its average store count will be down 7%.
“Looking ahead, we remain focused on our key strategies, which include refining our merchandise assortment, maintaining healthy inventory levels, creating compelling marketing programs and capitalizing on our e-commerce site to drive incremental traffic and sales,” Via added. “In addition, we will continue to execute on our real estate plans designed to drive higher store sales productivity and four-wall operating profit. We look forward to building upon our momentum and believe that we are on track to deliver on our three-year growth plan.”
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