Bon-Ton Q3 Loss Widens, Comps Slip

For the third quarter ended October 31, The Bon-Ton Stores lost $34 million, or $1.72 per share, versus $11 million, or 57 cents per share, in the year-prior quarter. Comparable store sales slid 2.6%.

A Zacks Investment Research analyst average estimated called for a third quarter loss of 66 cents.

Net sales for the quarter were $623.4 million versus $642.7 million, and total revenues, which include contributions from the company’s credit card operation, were $640.9 million versus $658.8 million in the year-ago period. Operating loss was $18.3 million versus operating income of $4.9 million in the previous-year quarter.

The company asserted that unseasonably warm weather and the continuation of soft traffic trends negatively affected sales.

“Clearly, our third quarter results were challenged as sales were pressured by unseasonably warm weather, which significantly impacted our cold-weather classifications, and by continued weakness in overall traffic trends,” said Kathryn Bufano, Bon-Ton president and CEO. “However, customers strongly responded to our expanded brand offerings, and we also saw sustained momentum in certain core categories. Recognizing that the competitive environment is likely to continue, we remain focused on creating a differentiated and compelling product assortment and leveraging our hometown strategy. We also continued to control our expenses, resulting in a net reduction in SG&A in the period. We ended the quarter in a healthy inventory position in terms of freshness and content, primed for holiday selling. Additionally, as previously announced, we amended our private label credit card agreement, extending a valued and successful partnership three years to 2022.”

Bon-Ton also recently named Nancy Walsh to the position of evp/chief financial officer. Walsh will have responsibility for accounting, treasury, tax, credit, investor relations, legal and internal audit. Walsh brings more than 30 years of experience to Bon-Ton, having held a variety of leadership roles in diverse financial functions throughout her career. She most recently served as svp/finance at Coach, Inc.

Bon-Ton operates 270 stores in 26 states under the Bon-Ton, Bergner’s, Boston Store, Carson’s, Elder-Beerman, Herberger’s and Younkers nameplates.