Bon-Ton CEO to resign

The Bon-Ton Stores Inc. announced today that its President and CEO, Brendan L. Hoffman, will resign when his contract ends in February 2015.

Bon-Ton, parent company of Boston Store, has dual headquarters in Milwaukee and York, Pa. The company has reported several poor quarters since Hoffman joined the company in January 2012 from retailer Lord & Taylor LLC.

“I am extremely proud of the Bon-Ton team and what we have accomplished since I joined in 2012,” Hoffman said. “I truly enjoyed working for the company these past two years. However, I have made the difficult decision to end my tenure with the Company for strictly personal reasons. I remain committed to continuing to execute the strategic initiatives we put forward as the Company searches for a new chief executive officer.”

The Bon-Ton board of directors will conduct a national search for Hoffman’s replacement.

“While I regret that Brendan will be leaving Bon-Ton when his contract expires, I respect his decision,” said Tim Grumbacher, chairman. “Brendan has my personal best wishes for success going forward. On behalf of the entire board of directors, I offer Brendan our thanks for his outstanding work at Bon-Ton. The initiatives he implemented and the direction he brought to the Company have built the foundation for a successful future for our company. The advance notice Brendan has given should afford the company an opportunity to find and attract a talented leader to assume the role he is vacating and ensure a smooth transition. Until then, we look forward to working with Brendan and taking advantage of his continued services to the company.”

Bon-Ton, which operates 270 department stores in 25 states under several brand names, also reported fiscal 2013 fourth quarter and full year results today.

Net income for the quarter was $61.3 million, or $3.04 per share, down from $74.4 million, or $3.71 per share, in the fourth quarter of 2012. Revenue was $914.9 million for the fourth quarter, down from $1.02 billion in the same period a year ago.

For the full year, Bon-Ton reported a net loss of $3.6 million, or 19 cents per share, compared to a net loss of $21.6 million, or $1.16 per share, in 2012. Revenue for 2013 was $2.8 billion, down from $2.9 billion in 2012.

Regarding the results, Hoffman said:

“Despite disappointing fourth quarter sales results, we continued to make progress on several strategic initiatives that we believe will drive improved performance. Multiple snowstorms and the polar vortex during the December and January periods resulted in a sharp decline in traffic and, therefore, we were unable to achieve our comparable store sales goals in the fourth quarter. In spite of these top line pressures, we were able to achieve a gross margin rate slightly better than prior year and reduce expenses. In addition, we effectively managed our inventory such that we ended the year with inventory levels approximately 5 percent below that of the prior year, including a significant reduction in carryover merchandise, leaving us well positioned for the spring season.

“We have made great strides in executing our strategic initiatives and will continue to focus on enhancing our merchandise assortments, driving our e-commerce business, refining our marketing strategy and moving forward with our localization initiative, all with an eye on improving our productivity. We are excited about our new e-commerce fulfillment center, which will permit significant expansion of our shipping capacity with improved operational efficiency. We will continue strengthening our foundation to deliver profitable sales growth in the coming years.”

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