Same-store sales jump 19.3% at Jos. A. Bank Suits and ties lead as comeback continues

November 14, 1996|By Liz Bowie | Liz Bowie,SUN STAFF

Riding a strong rebound in sales of men's suits and ties, Jos. A. Bank Clothiers Inc. yesterday reported a 19.3 percent increase in sales at stores open one year -- a key measure of performance -- for its fiscal third quarter.

It was the fourth consecutive quarter of same-store-sales increases for the company that two years ago was fighting for its survival.

"We made a greater stride than anyone would have thought," said Timothy F. Finley, chairman and chief executive officer of the Hampstead-based apparel company.

Saying the sales rebound was fueled by pent-up demand, Bank said the company not only survived an industry shakeout but also emerged from a period of doldrums with new merchandise that appealed to the public.

"The same-store sales far surpasses what I would expect," said Kenneth M. Gassman Jr., an analyst with Davenport & Co.

Total men's sales for the quarter ended Nov. 2 increased 19.5 percent to $36.8 million from $30.8 million in the same period last year.

Sales for the first nine months of the year rose 11.2 percent, to $107.9 million from $98.8 million a year ago -- a year that produced three quarters of flat or decreased sales.

A number of factors appear to have contributed to the upward turn. "There are clearly less places to buy suits," Finley said, alluding to competitors who have gone out of business. In addition, it appears that Bank is benefiting from a downturn in the electronics industry. Men are buying fewer televisions and computers and are buying suits again, he said.

Surprisingly, the introduction of a casual line of clothes this year to replace Bank's women's department was not the key to the company's strong numbers. Instead, neckties, suits and sports coats sold exceptionally well, the company said.

Bank has 81 stores, but, Finley said, the company did a lot of marketing in its largest metropolitan markets of Baltimore-Washington and New York. "Those stores are humming," he said.

Pub Date: 11/14/96

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