Bon-Ton Stumbles In Q3

Bon-Ton slightly narrowed its net loss in the third quarter, but net sales and comparable store sales continued to decline.

For the third quarter ended October 29, Bon-Ton Stores posted a net loss of $31.6 million, or $1.58 per diluted share, versus a net loss of $34 million, or $1.72 per diluted share, in the year-previous quarter. An analyst average estimate published by MarketBeat called for a loss per diluted share of $1.36.

Comparable store sales decreased 4.9% in the quarter year over year. Net sales were $589.9 million versus $623.4 million in the quarter a year earlier. The sales declines primarily resulted from the impact that unseasonably warm weather had on cold weather-related sales, according to Bon-Ton, but the company managed revenue gains in furniture and apparel categories. Bon-Ton added that it achieved accelerated growth in omnichannel, which reflects sales via its web and mobile sites, supported by a buy online pick up in-store initiative.

Kathryn Bufano, Bon-Ton president and CEO, said, “Although our third quarter sales performance was impacted by warm weather in addition to soft traffic trends, we made progress on a number of our strategic initiatives. We delivered sales gains in several key categories as well as double digit growth in our omnichannel business and accelerated growth on our mobile site. In addition, we increased our gross margin rate by 170 basis points as a result of improved merchandise margin and reduced delivery costs. We also continued to execute against our cost savings initiatives and reduced inventory by 4.9%. Looking ahead, we expect to drive continued momentum in omnichannel with enhancements to our website and mobile site, in addition to our buy online pick up in-store initiative. We also expect to benefit from our new Love Style Rewards program, continued expansion of new brands and categories, and recently opened furniture departments.”

The company operates 267 stores in 26 states under the Bon-Ton, Bergner’s, Boston Store, Carson’s, Elder-Beerman, Herberger’s and Younkers nameplates.