Minneapolis—Christopher & Banks Corp. today reported higher first quarter profits as expenses decreased and despite having fewer stores.
For the quarter ended May 3, the women’s specialty retailer posted net income increased to $2.62 million, or 7 cents a share, from $600,000, or 2 cents a share, last year. That was ahead of analysts’ average estimate for 2 cents a share.
Net sales decreased to $103.37 million from $108.52 million, last year, again mostly in line with analysts’ estimate. Comparable store sales were down 0.2% as Christopher & Banks operates an average of 8.9% fewer stores.
Expand Missy, Petite, Women
Gross margin was 36.7%, as compared to 34.2% last year. Operating income rose to $2.8 million from $800,000 in first quarter last year.
Christopher & Banks has been amid a turnaround, one that executives say is well on track.
“Throughout the first quarter, we realized continued momentum in our strategic initiatives despite the challenges presented by the severe winter weather experienced during the first half of the quarter,” said LuAnn Via, president/ceo. “While our comparable store sales were slightly below our expectations for the quarter, we saw business improve as the weather became more seasonal and we exceeded our gross margin expansion target, with a refined merchandise offering and enhanced inventory strategies.”
Via pointed out that sales and profitability in the company’s MPW (Missy, Petite, Women) stores was above average.
“Looking ahead, additional opportunities to enhance our merchandise offering, further engage our customer and broaden our reach with our marketing programs are expected to result in continued improvement in store productivity. We also plan to accelerate our MPW strategy and end the year with approximately 190 locations in this format, as these stores continue to deliver strong returns,” Via said. “Overall, we are well-positioned to meet our financial goals for the year, and are on track to deliver on our three-year growth plan.”
For the second quarter, Christopher & Banks expects comp sales to increase in the low to mid-single digit range.