Bank reports rise in Jan. sales, expects record profit for fiscal '01

Clothier's same-store sales drop in month

Internet, catalog gain

February 08, 2002|By Gus G. Sentementes | Gus G. Sentementes,SUN STAFF

Keeping pace with increased January retail sales nationwide, Jos. A. Bank Clothiers Inc. reported yesterday that its sales for the month rose slightly and that the company expects to "significantly exceed" its full-year earnings guidance for fiscal 2001.

The Hampstead-based men's apparel retailer said its total January sales rose 0.8 percent to $12.8 million, compared with $12.7 million for the corresponding period last year. Bank's sales at stores open at least a year - a key barometer in the retail industry - were down 8.7 percent, compared with January 2001.

By comparison, net sales at Bank's larger competitor, Men's Wearhouse, dropped 33 percent to $93.7 million in January, from $139.7 million in January last year.

Bank's drop in same-store sales contrasted with a rise in its catalog and Internet business, where combined sales rose 32 percent, said Robert N. Wildrick, Bank's chief executive. Wildrick said higher catalog and Internet sales, store openings and overall weakness in the economy took business away from stores that account for the same-store sales figures.

Total sales at Bank for the three months that ended Saturday, which marked the close of its fiscal fourth quarter, were $67.3 million. In fiscal 2001, total sales rose 4 percent to a record $211 million compared with $203 million in fiscal 2000, the company said.

Wildrick said he expects a record year of earnings for fiscal 2001 that exceed earlier guidance of 85 cents per share when Bank releases its fourth-quarter and full-year earnings March 18.

"They've done a really good job of controlling what they can," said Preston Silvey, an analyst with First Dallas Securities in Dallas. "They've done a good job of increasing their gross margins."

With corporate business attire making a comeback at many companies, more formal dress codes in the workplace will help Bank's suit sales, Silvey said.

Bank's closed up 30 cents yesterday at $7.85.

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