Sears Hometown & Outlets Posts Rough Q4

In the fourth quarter ended January 28, Sears Hometown and Outlets recorded a net loss of $45.8 million, or $2.02 per diluted share, versus a net loss of $22.6 million, or $1 per diluted share, in the year-prior quarter.

Comparable store sales slipped 4.1% in the quarter, according to the company. Hometown stores posted a comp decline of 4.3%, with home appliances and lawn and garden outperformed the average and tools and mattresses under-performing, while Outlet store comps fell 3.6% versus the year previous, with home appliances, lawn and garden, and tools outperforming the average, and mattresses, furniture, and apparel underperforming.

Sears Hometown and Outlets posted net sales of $488.9 million for the quarter versus $538.3 million in the period a year earlier, the company maintained. Operating loss was $43.5 million versus $35.3 million in the year-earlier quarter.

In the full year, Sears Hometown and Outlets recorded a net loss of $131.9 million, or $5.81 per diluted share, versus $27.3 million, or $1.20 per diluted share, in the year-prior period.

Comparable store sales slid 4.4%, according to the company. Hometown stores posted a comp decline of 4.2% while Outlet store comps fell 4.9% versus the year previous.

Sears Hometown and Outlets net sales were $2.07 billion versus for the full year versus $2.29 billion in the annum earlier, the company indicated. Operating loss was $47.7 million versus $42.2 million in the year-earlier annum.

In announcing the financial results, Will Powell, Sears Hometown and Outlets president and CEO, said, “While we were disappointed with our performance in the fourth quarter, we made measurable progress on key strategic initiatives that we believe will improve profitability and strengthen the company’s long-term outlook.”

Sears Hometown and Outlets stated that it continues to take “proactive steps” to use capital effectively and reduce costs including the closure of 98 Hometown and 11 Outlet stores in the fourth quarter. For the full fiscal year, the company closed 160 locations consisting of 149 Hometown stores and 11 Outlet stores. The closings resulted in one-time charges of $16.2 million and $17.7 million in the fourth quarter and full year respectively. The company boosted its lease-to-own program in the fourth quarter and grew leasing sales and leasing penetration as a ratio of total sales, it stated. The company also finished major system and customer enhancements on its websites during the fourth quarter following the launch of three new transactional sites for Hometown, a move that took place at third quarter’s end. Improvements include the ability to apply for the Sears credit card online with instant approval and use at check- out. In the first quarter of 2017, Sears Hometown and Outlets began a test of free delivery and free shipping offers. In the first quarter, the company plans to complete additional enhancements to foster a seamless on-line leasing experience for customers, it asserted.