Comp-store sales slip at the Bon-Ton Stores

YORK, Pa. — Bon-Ton Stores pointed to inclement weather in its markets and higher gas prices in the Northeast and Midwest for overall sales weaknesses which translated into a same-store sales decrease of 6.4% for the second quarter ended Aug. 3.

The unfavorable shift in consumer spending patterns affected the company’s total sales for the quarter, which decreased 6.3% to $557 million, compared with $595 million for the prior-year period.

Despite disappointing sales results, the company’s gross margin rate increased 100 basis points to 37%, compared with 36% for the prior-year quarter. In addition, the company’s net loss was $37.3 million, or $1.95 per diluted share — an improvement over the prior-year quarter’s net loss of $45 million, or $2.43 per diluted share.

“We were disappointed in our second quarter sales performance, but we were pleased we were able to deliver on several of our goals, including a 100 basis point increase in the gross margin rate and reduced expenses, which led to 23% growth in Adjusted EBITDA,” said Brendan Hoffman, president and CEO. “Looking ahead, we remain focused on the continued execution of our key merchandising, marketing and e-commerce strategies, including the localization of our merchandise assortments and marketing programs to drive top-line growth, while maintaining disciplined inventory management and careful cost controls.”

The Bon-Ton Stores, Inc., with corporate headquarters in York, Pa., and Milwaukee, Wis., operates 270 department stores, which include 10 furniture galleries, in 24 states in the Northeast, Midwest and upper Great Plains under the Bon-Ton, Bergner’s, Boston Store, Carson’s, Elder-Beerman, Herberger’s and Younkers nameplates. The stores offer a broad assortment of national and private brand fashion apparel and accessories for women, men and children, as well as cosmetics and home furnishings.