Jos. A. Bank sales gain 1% in quarter

Same-store results fall 8%, clothier says, due to 17 openings

Retailing

May 13, 1999|By Lorraine Mirabella | Lorraine Mirabella,SUN STAFF

Jos. A. Bank Clothiers reported yesterday first-quarter sales of $43.6 million, a 1 percent gain from the first quarter of 1998. But sales at stores open at least a year -- the best measure of a retailer's performance -- fell 8 percent.

The company said comparable-store sales were hurt by the opening of 17 stores last year in existing markets. The newer stores cannibalized sales at established stores, the company said.

Additionally, the company said March sales suffered from an unsuccessful promotional campaign -- a "wardrobe sale" in March in which customers could save more by spending more.

"The promotion we tried in March did not work, so we changed it quickly," said David E. Ullman, executive vice president and chief financial officer.

"Our customer is more focused on the prices of certain types of suits. Our customers respond to something more specific."

With sales off in March, but not February or April, the company still expects a profitable first quarter. But earnings will fall short of last year's first quarter, Ullman said.

In the first quarter of 1998, Bank had operating earnings of 12 cents per share and net profit of 11 cents per share. Bank expects to release its most recent quarterly results May 25.

"In terms of where we see the whole spring season and the full year, we still are comfortable with the company and that it's on the right track," Ullman said.

"We view this as an aberration and are reacting to it and making certain changes."

For instance, after March, the company returned to a promotion in which customers can trade in an old suit, to be donated to charity, and get $100 off a new suit.

Sales rose in April, Ullman said.

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