Bon-Ton takes another loss

The Bon-Ton Stores Inc., which has dual headquarters in Milwaukee and York, Pa., today reported a first quarter net loss of $31.5 million, or $1.63 lost per share, compared to a net loss of $26.6 million, or $1.41 lost per share, in the first quarter of 2013.

Net sales were $607.5 million, down from $646.9 million in the same period a year ago.

Comparable store sales were down 5.8 percent.

“We forecasted our first quarter sales to reflect weather challenges, but the prolonged adverse conditions resulted in a financial performance below our expectations,” said Brendan Hoffman, president and chief executive officer. “We saw an improvement in sales performance mid-April as the weather became more seasonal and traffic trends improved dramatically. Despite our shortfall in sales, we were able to achieve a higher gross margin rate, control expenses and effectively manage our inventory such that we ended the quarter with retail inventory levels 1.7 percent below that of the prior year on a comparable store basis.

“We have seen recent improvement in sales performance and favorable response to our merchandise offerings and marketing programs. In addition, the roll-out of our localization strategies designed to drive store productivity remains on track. Overall, we believe that the strategies we have in place will yield improved results as we move through the year and, with that, we are maintaining our full year guidance.”

Hoffman will resign when his contract ends in February 2015. The company has reported several poor quarters since Hoffman joined the company in January 2012 from retailer Lord & Taylor LLC.

Bon-Ton operates 270 department stores in 25 states under several brand names, including Boston Store.

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