Bon-Ton reports higher holiday sales, but lowers guidance

The Bon-Ton Stores Inc. today announced its comparable store sales were up 5.3 percent during the nine-week holiday shopping season that ended Jan. 3.

Bon-Ton, which has dual headquarters in Milwaukee and York, Pa., said total sales for the same period were $796.4 million, up 3.8 percent over $767.4 million in 2013.

However, the company still lowered its full-year guidance.

“We are pleased with our sales performance during the holiday season as customers responded well to both in-store and online offerings,” said Kathryn Bufano, president and chief executive officer of Bon-Ton. “However, our strong sales performance was tempered by the highly promotional sales environment. With the caveat of numerous important year-end closing items outstanding, we are lowering our full-year adjusted EBITDA guidance to a range of $140 million to $150 million from our previously provided adjusted EBITDA range of $150 million to $160 million.”

More details about Bon-Ton’s performance will be available on March 12, when it reports its fiscal 2014 fourth quarter and full-year results.

The company also reported today that Keith Plowman, executive vice president and chief financial officer, will retire in August. He has agreed to a notice period of about six months, and then an 18-month consulting arrangement.

The board of directors will conduct a national search for Plowman’s successor.

“I have greatly enjoyed my tenure with Bon-Ton,” Plowman said. “The company is fortunate to have many talented associates and it has been my pleasure to work with them throughout my many years here. I would also like to express my appreciation for the support of Tim Grumbacher and Mike Gleim, as well as the collective board, since my appointment as chief financial officer of Bon-Ton. Their guidance and partnership were extremely valuable as we navigated through many opportunities and challenges.”

“The company has made great strides under Keith’s financial leadership and, on behalf of the entire board of directors, I offer Keith our heartfelt thanks for his outstanding work at Bon-Ton,” said Grumbacher, chairman of the board. “Keith was instrumental in the planning, financing and execution of the company’s significant acquisitions in the prior decade when our store count grew four-fold in a three-year period. The progress made under Keith’s leadership is reflected in the great potential of our store base today. We wish him the best in his future endeavors.”

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