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The Bon-Ton Stores Reports Comp Store Sales Dip In Q3

The Bon-Ton Stores, Inc. has reported operating results for the third quarter of fiscal 2013 ended November 2, 2013. Comparable store sales for the third quarter of fiscal 2013 decreased 2.8%, with total sales for the quarter down 2.6%, to $651.2 million, compared with $668.7 million for the third quarter of fiscal 2012.

Other highlights for the third quarter, according to the company, included: gross margin rate for the fiscal Q3 2013 was flat to the gross margin rate in the third quarter of fiscal 2012 at 36.6% of net sales; operating income improved by $5 million to $15.9 million, compared with operating income of $10.8 million in the third quarter of fiscal 2012; adjusted EBITDA increased $4.4 million to $38.4 million, compared with $34.1 million in the third quarter of fiscal 2012; and net loss was reduced by $9.2 million to $0.9 million, or $0.05 per diluted share, compared with a net loss of $10.1 million, or $0.55 per diluted share, for the third quarter of fiscal 2012.

“We saw meaningful improvement in our comparable store sales towards the end of the quarter. Additionally, due to strategic inventory reductions, we ended the quarter down approximately 5% on a comparable store basis. Reduced expenses contributed to 13% growth in adjusted EBITDA which, together with lower interest expense, delivered an improved EPS,” said Brendan Hoffman, president and CEO. “Strong performances in a number of key merchandise categories where we increased our investment lead us to believe that we are on track with our strategic initiatives. Our eCommerce business continues to grow at a healthy pace, benefiting from traffic-driving initiatives and our broader merchandise assortment.”

Hoffman continued: “We are looking forward to the holiday selling season with a fresh and inspired merchandise assortment that offers our customers quality and value in an exciting shopping environment. Our marketing campaign is designed to entice shoppers into our stores and to our eCommerce site. We will continue to roll out our localization strategies to drive store productivity and we will maintain inventory management and cost controls as we execute this new strategy.”

Bon-Ton’s year-to-date highlights included: comparable stores sales decreased 2.6%; gross margin rate increased approximately 50 basis points to 36.1%, compared with 35.6% in the prior year period; operating loss improved by $18.6 million to $6.7 million, compared with an operating loss of $25.3 million in the prior year period; adjusted EBITDA increased $16.4 million to $62.4 million, compared with $46.0 million in the prior year period;net loss improved by $31.1 million to $64.9 million, or $3.40 per diluted share, compared with a net loss of $96 million, or $5.20 per diluted share, for the prior year period.