Weak mall traffic dings Bon-Ton again

Boston Store parent narrows Q2 loss

Bon-Ton
Bon-Ton will liquidate.

Weak mall traffic continued to impact results at The Bon-Ton Stores Inc. in the second quarter, the company reported today.

Bon-Ton
The Bon-Ton Stores Inc. headquarters, and the Boston Store, in downtown Milwaukee.

The retailer, which has dual headquarters in Milwaukee and York, Pennsylvania, operates 267 Boston Store, Carson’s, Younkers, Bon-Ton, Elder-Beerman, Herberger’s and Bergner’s department stores in 26 states.

Bon-Ton reported a second quarter net loss of $38.7 million, or $1.95 per diluted share, compared with a net loss of $39.6 million, or $2.01 per share, in the second quarter of 2015.

Net sales totaled $542.4 million, down 2.4 percent from $555.4 million in the same period a year ago.

The retailer did see sales gains in Activewear, Big & Tall, Denim, Young Men’s, Young Contemporary Plus, Women’s Better Handbags, Hard Home and Furniture. The Furniture offering is in the midst of an expansion, with plans to go into another 24 stores. President and chief executive officer Kathryn Bufano also pointed to Bon-Ton’s success in omnichannel marketing, using channels such as web, mobile and buy online and pick up in-store.

Comparable store sales, an important measure of retail performance, declined by 2 percent year-over-year.

And Bon-Ton is working to reduce its expenses. It incurred $2.2 million in severance costs and $2.4 million in consulting fees as it worked to decrease costs. It also is reducing inventory across its footprint and working on several sale-leaseback transactions on its store properties. Selling, general and administrative expenses were $211.9 million in the second quarter, down from $215.2 million in the same period a year ago.

The company is maintaining its guidance for the full year, with comparable store sales flat or down 1 percent and loss per diluted share of 95 cents to $1.45.

“We made progress on a number of our strategic initiatives during the second quarter, although the soft mall traffic trends continued to negatively impact our business,” Bufano said. “Looking ahead, we believe that the fall assortment will be our best to date. We also expect that our omnichannel business will continue to deliver strong performance. While we are cognizant that the operating environment remains difficult, we believe that we are well positioned for the back half of the year with a strong merchandising assortment, a compelling marketing program focused on new customer acquisition, and continued discipline in inventory management and cost controls.”

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Molly Dill, former BizTimes Milwaukee managing editor.

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