Bon-Ton widens loss in first quarter

Comparable store sales fall 2.9%

Bon-Ton will liquidate.

The Bon-Ton Stores Inc. today joined the group of national retailers reporting disappointing first quarter results.

The Bon-Ton Stores Inc. headquarters in downtown Milwaukee.

The company, which has dual headquarters in Milwaukee and York, Pa., operates 267 department stores under the Boston Store, Younkers, Bergner’s, Carson’s, Elder-Beerman, Herberger’s and Bon-Ton nameplates.

First-quarter comparable store sales, an important indicator of retail performance, decreased by 2.9 percent compared with the first quarter of 2015.

Bon-Ton reported a net loss of $37.8 million, or $1.91 per diluted share, in the first quarter, compared with a net loss of $34.1 million, or $1.74 per share, in the same period last year.

Revenue was $591 million in the first quarter, down 3.3 percent from $610.9 million in the first quarter of 2015.

“During the first quarter, the challenging retail environment, unfavorable weather and the impact from a soft Easter pressured our top line performance,” said chief executive officer Kathryn Bufano in a call with analysts this morning. “Given the results for the first quarter as well as the ongoing challenges in the retail environment, we believe it is prudent to assume that comps and traffic will not improve in the second quarter.”

The company reduced its guidance for the full year. Bright spots included omnichannel sales and name brand clothing such as Under Armour.

“We remain focused on the controllables which we believe will drive incremental sales in the back half of the year including further enhancing both our brand and our merchandise assortments, elevating the communication of our value proposition to both new and existing customers, and once again driving double-digit growth in our omnichannel sales,” Bufano said. “Longer term, we continue to believe that as we make progress against our seven pillars of execution, we will be poised to drive improved and consistent sales and profitability.”

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Molly Dill, former BizTimes Milwaukee managing editor.

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