Mother Nature hits Francesca’s in fourth quarter

Francesca’s sales results for the fourth quarter were below its revised guidance, thanks in part to extreme weather conditions, which forced the company to fully or partially close 370 boutiques during January.

The company’s net income for the quarter decreased to $10.6 million, from $14.9 million in the year-ago quarter. Same-store sales decreased 6%, swinging from a 10% increase in the prior year quarter. Revenue increased to $92.1 million from $86.7 million, helped by 91 new boutique openings since the prior year quarter. Five of the 91 locations opened during the fourth quarter.

But the headwinds the company experienced in January have continued into the first quarter, affecting its ability to clear through seasonal fall and winter products and resulting in the delay of spring season full-price selling.

“Although initial customer reaction to our spring apparel fashion is strong, clarity and timing of spring 2014 customer buying trends remain uncertain,” explained president and CEO Neill P. Davis. “Our outlook for the quarter is based on current trends and an expectation of continued soft traffic through the balance of the first quarter.”

For the full year, profit dipped to $44.8 million from $47.1 million, comps fell 2%, and sales increased 15% to $340.3 million.

Francesca’s said it plans to open approximately 60 new stores during the first quarter as compared to 56 openings during the prior year quarter. For the full year, the company will open about 85 stores, down from its 91 openings in the previous year.