Belk, Inc., in announcing its operating results for the fiscal year ended February 1, 2014, touted an increase of 2.1% net sales and its fourth consecutive year of positive comparable store sales.
Tim Belk, chairman and CEO of Belk, Inc., said, “Compared to recent years, fiscal 2014 was a challenging year with a shorter holiday selling season, and our earnings were impacted by additional expense associated with key strategic initiatives, such as expanded Omnichannel and eCommerce capabilities. We spent time last year testing ways to drive incremental sales through item locator and store fulfillment of digital orders, and we plan to expand those efforts this year.”
These efforts, according to the retailer, include planned investments totaling more than $700 million over a three-year period that began in fiscal 2014 for key strategic initiatives focused on: a comprehensive Omnichannel initiative to digitally connect with consumers and enhance their in-store shopping experience in an effort to create more personalized customer interactions; the creation of “compelling” shopping environments and driving sales by investing in a flagship strategy, opening stores in existing and new markets, and expanding and remodeling existing stores and key merchandise departments; supply chain initiatives that align distribution capabilities to maximize sales and service; information technology that delivers new business capabilities for growth and profitability; and excelling in customer service.
Belk announced that its net sales for the 52 weeks of fiscal 2014 totaled $4.04 billion, an increase of 2.1%, compared with net sales of $3.96 billion in the 53 weeks of fiscal 2013. On a comparable store basis, which included comparable 52-week periods this year and last, net sales for fiscal 2014 were up 2.9%.
The company’s online sales from belk.com increased 42.5% for fiscal 2014. Online sales positively affected the company’s comparable store sales by 1.5% for the period.
Belk invested nearly $88 million in store expansion and remodeling projects last year, including the opening of a new store in New Braunfels, TX, and relocations of stores in Salisbury and Morganton, NC to new centers.
The company will open its first Texas flagship store at Galleria Dallas in Dallas on April 9, 2014, and relocated its High Point, NC, store to a new center at The Palladium at Deep River Shopping Center on March 12. A second new flagship store is scheduled to open in fall 2014 at Bridge Street Town Centre in Huntsville, AL, along with a new store at Denham Springs/Livingston Parish, LA.
In December of 2013, Belk announced the expansion of its eCommerce fulfillment center operations in Union County, SC, to support its growing online business. The company invested approximately $9 million to up fit additional space at the 500,000-square-foot Jonesville facility last year and plans to invest another $32 million this year to further increase the center’s capacity. Belk expects to add approximately 170 new jobs by the end of 2015 in addition to the 124 jobs announced last year. Belk opened the center in 2012.