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Business Observer Friday, Aug. 7, 2009 13 years ago

Chico's sales, same-store up

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Lower consumer spending isn't holding back Fort Myers-based Chico's FAS Inc. from showing signs of a turnaround.

Lower consumer spending isn't holding back Fort Myers-based Chico's FAS Inc. from showing signs of a turnaround.

After, a long string of lower net sales and same-store comparables, the company reported both important store figures were higher in the second quarter. Net sales for the thirteen-week period ended Aug. 1 grew 3.6% ($14.7 million) to $419.9 million, compared to $405.2 million last year. Comparable store sales for second quarter increased 1.3% compared to the 15.9% decrease for the same period in 2008. Those operating results would put the company's second quarter results at nine to 10 cents a share compared to just four cents last year.

It's unclear what, if any, affect the 25 store closings the company announced in January had on the figures, but the company itself is pointing to changes in upper management as the reason for the improvements.

Robert C. Atkinson, vice president of investor relations for Chico's ascribes the new energy at the retailer to the appointment of David Dyer as CEO and his subsequent appointment of other top executives, such as Cynthia Murray president of Chico's brand, Jeff Jones as chief operating officer and Lee Eisenberg, director of creative strategy for Chico's.

“We believe we've made a dramatic improvement in the apparel assortment,” says Atkinson, vice president of investor relations for Chico's. “We've also dramatically improved our marketing, including out catalogues. I think there's a new enthusiasm that I'm hearing not just here at the home office but throughout the organization and our stores. I'm hearing that it's fun to be part of Chico's again.”

Chico's also had much higher growth in the direct-to-consumer sales — a prominent public goal of Dyer — which climbed 46% in the second quarter over 2008.

The company operates 1,070 specialty stores under the Chico's, White House | Black Market and Soma Intimates brands.

Second Quarter Comparable Store Sales Increase/(Decrease)
Second Second
Quarter Quarter
2008 2009
Chico's/Soma Intimates -17.1% 0.4%
White House | Black Market -12.3% 3.7%
Chico's FAS Consolidated -15.9% 1.3%

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