Bon-Ton Q1 Loss Widens

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BonTonYork, PA–Bon-Ton Stores Inc.’s net loss grew to $31.5 million from $26.6 million a year earlier, and net sales dropped 6% to $607.46 million from $647.9 million.

Despite gross margin improvement, the loss reflected higher expenses and a 5.8% decline in same-store sales. Adverse weather was one factor, lasting longer into the first quarter of fiscal 2014 than expected.

The company also reaffirmed its earnings guidance for fiscal 2014. Adjusted EBITDA is expected to be in a range of $170 million to $180 million. Net income per share is expected to be in a range of $0.40 to $0.70. Analysts expect the company to report fiscal year 2014 earnings per share of $0.59.

“We forecasted our first quarter sales to reflect weather challenges, but the prolonged adverse conditions resulted in a financial performance below our expectations,” said Brendan Hoffman, chairman/ceo of Bon-Ton. “We saw an improvement in sales performance mid-April as the weather became more seasonal and traffic trends improved dramatically. Despite our shortfall in sales, we were able to achieve a higher gross margin rate, control expenses and effectively manage our inventory such that we ended the quarter with retail inventory levels 1.7% below that of the prior year on a comparable store basis.”