April same-store sales rise 8% at Jos. A. Bank

1Q sales increase 17.7% at men's clothing chain

May 10, 2002|By Liz Steinberg | Liz Steinberg,SUN STAFF

Jos. A. Bank Clothiers Inc. said yesterday that same-store sales rose 8 percent in April, the third month in a row the Hampstead company has seen a month-over-month increase after the soft winter retail market.

Jos. A. Bank also announced its total sales increased 18.2 percent in April over 2001, well above the industry average. The men's clothing chain's April sales totaled $20.1 million, up from $17 million last year.

"Due the fact that they had negative same-store sales four months ago ... that's a pretty good sign," said Preston E. Silvey, a First Dallas Securities financial analyst who follows the men's clothing chain.

"We've continued to stay ahead of the industry, and now, with the economy coming back, we continue to lead," said Chief Executive Officer Robert N. Wildrick, who added that the company beat its sales goals for the month.

The apparel industry as a whole showed an 11.6 percent same-store sales decrease in April, according to the latest figures from the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi Ltd. Analysts consider same-store sales a key measure of a retailer's health

One of Jos. A. Bank's main competitors, Men's Wearhouse Inc. of Houston, saw net sale figures decline 0.5 percent and U.S. same-store sales drop 6.4 percent.

Jos. A. Bank's diverse product line - from underwear to suits - gives the retailer an advantage, allowing it to attract a wide range of customers, said Silvey, the First Dallas analyst .

The company, which targets men 28 years old and up, has been drawing more young customers who are buying their first suits, Wildrick said.

In addition, he said Jos. A. Bank didn't cut sales staff because of the recession, unlike other retailers, enabling it to provide the service more affluent, mature customers want.

Silvey believes the company will continue to do well throughout the year as the retail market improves.

First-quarter sales increased 17.7 percent to $55.8 million, while sales figures for stores open at least a year rose 7.5 percent and combined catalog and Internet sales increased 24.9 percent. First-quarter earnings will be released May 20.

Silvey expects earnings to be 16 cents a share, or double the company's 8 cents per share in the first quarter last year.

Jos. A. Bank has 137 stores in 29 states, a nationwide catalog and an e-commerce Web site.

The company's shares gained $1.08 yesterday to close at $21.50, an all-time high since the company went public in 1994.

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