Express overcomes cool weather in Q1

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Express overcame the spring chill and a difficult retail environment, reporting net sales of $508 million for the first quarter ended May 4, a 3% increase from $496 million in the first quarter of 2012.

Comparable sales were flat following a 4% comparable sales increase in last year's first quarter. This includes e-commerce sales, which increased 48% to $71 million. In last year's first quarter, e-commerce sales grew 28% to $48 million.

"Much has been written about the macro-economic events and difficult retail environment that made the first quarter so challenging,” said chairman and CEO Michael Weiss. “We successfully overcame those hurdles to deliver results that were at the high end of our guidance. It's always about the product, and our customers responded enthusiastically to our spring merchandise, which we consider to be fresh and on-trend. While we promoted more heavily in the face of a highly promotional environment, we managed our expenses tightly and ended the quarter well-positioned to achieve our annual goals."

The company plans to open several new or remodeled stores in key malls that reflect its intensified focus on prime hub locations. The company has also been exploring another growth opportunity — outlet stores. 

“I'm very pleased to announce that our search for someone to head this business has concluded successfully,” added Weiss, who did not provide further details. “This ensures that we will have the necessary expertise in-house to fully develop this strategy."