YORK, Pa.-Fourth-quarter net income for The Bon-Ton Stores totaled $74.4 million, down 4.8 percent from the fourth quarter of last year.
For the fiscal year ending on Feb. 2, the department-store retailer posted a net loss of $21.6 million, compared to a net loss from the prior fiscal year of $12.1 million. Net sales in the quarter increased 3.2 percent to $1 billion, including a same-store sales gain of 1 percent. For the year, Bon-Ton reported a 1.2 percent pickup in net sales to $2.9 billion, which included a 0.5 percent increase in same-store sales.
Thanks to a decrease in markdowns, Bon-Ton improved its fourth-quarter gross margin by 160 basis points to 36.2 percent. Selling, general and administrative expenses were held relatively in check, rising 1.6 percent in total dollars but declining 40 basis points as a percentage of sales, to 26 percent.
In a conference call to retail analysts, Brendan Hoffman, Bon-Ton’s president and CEO, said the company has “made great strides in many areas of our business, including better balanced merchandise assortment, more disciplined inventory management, enhanced marketing and upgraded e-commerce.” While Bon-Ton has more to do in these areas, “we expect to see evidence of our progress in our financial performance,” Hoffman said.