Brookstone results bring good news

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Amid all the bad news coming out of the retail sector over the past month and a half, specialty retailer Brookstone released its fourth quarter and year-end financial results today and the numbers look good, including a 33.3% increase in direct marketing sales during the fourth quarter.

For the fourth quarter ended December 29, Brookstone reported net sales totaled $288.5 million, a 12.6% increase over the same period in the previous year. Same-store sales increased 5.2% during the same period.

Income from continuing operations totaled $64.6 million in the fourth quarter compared to income from continuing operations totaling $60.8 million for the same period in the previous year.

For the fiscal year ended December 29, Brookstone said net sales totaled $562.8 million, a 9.9% increase over the previous year. Same-store sales increased 5% during the same period.

Income from continuing operations totaled $39.9 million at year's end, compared to $30.6 million in the previous year.

In a conference call with analysts to discuss the results, Brookstone executives attributed the results to the introduction of new products with greater mass appeal and efforts to help sales associates do a better job of selling.

In addition, fiscal year 2007 “was a record year for Brookstone's direct marketing business,” said Lou Mancini, CEO at the company, during the conference call. In the fourth quarter, direct marketing sales increased 33.3% for a total of $78.3 million. For the entire year, direct marketing sales increased 23% for a total of $127.5 million.

Increased product productivity, circulation changes and the continued growth of Brookstone's Internet business were reasons given for the growth of Brookstone's DM business.

During the fourth quarter, Brookstone increased its catalog circulation 14.2% and, for the year, 9.6%.

Philip Roizin, CFO at Brookstone, said of the company‘s multichannel retail strategy, “The mix in the catalogs drives people to the stores. People plan their visits to the store by going on the Internet and looking at the catalog.”

He added that it's all a very synergistic mix, with the catalog acting as more of a call to action while more and more people are ordering online.

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