J. Crew Doubles Q1 Profit as Revenue Leaps

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New York–Revenue increases of 20% from its stores and catalog business helped retailer J. Crew Group double its first quarter profit.

The specialty retailer, which operates 246 full-price stores, reported Thursday a first quarter net profit of $44.7 million, up from $20.4 million last year and boosted by a 15% same-store sales surge.

The retailer has benefited from leaner inventories and limited markdowns. Gross margin rose to 49% from 42.2%.

“We are very pleased with our first quarter results,” said Mickey Drexler, chairman and ceo.

J.Crew. has become something of a darling to Wall Street analysts thanks to improving sales and its expansion potential. Analysts also note that the store’s cult-like status among fashion customers has helped, not to mention first lady Michelle Obama is often photographed wearing J. Crew outfits.

The company forecast the range of 40 to 45 cents a share, in-line with analyst projections for earnings of 44 cents a share. The company also raised its fiscal 2010 view and now predicts earnings in the range of $2.35 to $2.45 a share, up from its previous forecast for earnings between $2.20 and $2.30 a share. Analysts had predicted full-year earnings of $2.34 per share.

Expansion into Bridal

Also on Thursday, the company unveiled an online-sales channel for its fledgling denim division, Madewell, and also opened its first bridal boutique, J. Crew Bridal, on Madison Avenue in Manhattan. Drexler reported in a conference call with analysts that appointments at the new bridal concept were already booked through July.

“I don’t see why we can’t do this in every major city in America,” Drexler said, noting that stand-alone bridal stores could easily be replicated elsewhere.

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