Bon-Ton Stores has ‘disappointing’ third quarter

Special to The Freeman

Nov. 20, 2014

MILWAUKEE — Sales for The Bon-Ton Stores, Inc. decreased during the third quarter, which CEO Kathryn Bufano called “disappointing.”

According to an announcement from the company Thursday, comparable store sales decreased 0.8 percent compared to the same 13-week period in 2013. The adjusted EBITDA was $28.4 million in the third quarter of fiscal 2014, compared with $38.4 million in the third quarter of fiscal 2013. Net loss in the third quarter of fiscal 2014 was $11 million, or $0.57 per diluted share, compared with a net loss of $900,000 or $0.05 per diluted share, in the comparable prior year period, according to the company.

“The quarter was disappointing in that we had solid momentum through mid-October, when traffic slowed and we saw unseasonably warm weather. While our subsequent performance did not meet our expectations, we did achieve numerous measurable successes that bode well for ongoing business. We drove double-digit sales growth in eCommerce, fueled by a meaningful increase in conversion,” said Bufano in a statement. “We increased the sales penetration of our Let Us Find It customer service initiative. We also increased penetration of our private label credit card sales which, we believe, demonstrates continued success of our Your Rewards customer loyalty program. In addition, we effectively managed our markdowns, resulting in a reduced net markdown rate in the quarter. We were particularly encouraged by the sell-through of recent receipts, which suggests our customer is embracing the newness in our merchandise assortments.”
She said the company is encouraged by its sale performance so far in November and are hoping for a strong holiday shopping.

“As we look to the all-important holiday season, we recognize the challenges of continued consumer uncertainty, but we believe we are well-positioned to meet anticipated fourth quarter demand with compelling product and strong marketing throughout the season. We expect the environment to remain highly promotional and we have planned a robust calendar of events to showcase our exceptional values and strengthen our appeal to both new and existing Bon-Ton customers,” Bufano said in the statement.

The Bon-Ton Stores, Inc., with corporate headquarters in York, Penn., and Milwaukee, operates 273 stores, which include 10 furniture galleries and four clearance centers, in 26 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.