Strong Multichannel Sales Bolster Jos. A. Bank

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In a year of fits and starts for many retailers, Jos. A. Bank is on a roll.

The men's clothing retailer's stock closed April 29 at $18.19, up 26.7 percent for the month and up 158 percent from $7.05 at the start of the year.

Fueling the surge are record results for the 2001 fiscal year, which ended Feb. 2, and strong numbers for the first two months of the 2002 fiscal year.

Despite the recession and economic fallout from Sept. 11, Jos. A. Bank generated sales across its store, catalog and Internet operations of $211 million for 2001, up 2 percent from the previous year. Net income was $6.5 million, up 30 percent from the 2000 fiscal year.

The 2001 fiscal year also included 52 weeks while the 2000 fiscal year had 53 weeks.

"Our growth strategy of opening stores, growing our e-commerce and catalog businesses, broadening our product assortment and expanding our gross profit margins is working exceptionally well," CEO Robert N. Wildrick said in a statement. "We are optimistic that 2002 will produce another year of record earnings."

Total sales increased 23.8 percent in March to $21.3 million compared with the same period last year. Catalog/Internet sales rose 39.9 percent from March 2001.

Sales for February and March were $35.6 million, up 17.1 percent from the previous year. Comparable-store sales for the two-month period increased 7.2 percent while catalog and Internet sales rose 26.8 percent. The company does not break out catalog and Internet sales.

"They're trying to combine all three channels to move them into a multi-tiered retailer," said Preston Silvey, research analyst at First Dallas Securities, Dallas.

Being able to return items ordered online to stores and consistent sizing across all its clothing lines contributed to the growth of Internet sales, he said.

The company has done well at adding casual clothes to its traditional line of suits and formal wear, Silvey said.

"About two years ago they saw the trend," he said. "They made a big effort to get into this."

A new line of upscale summer clothes, Vacations in Paradise, has "sold very well in stores," he said.

The company also improved prospecting efforts with its catalog, he said.

In its 10-K statement for the 2001 fiscal year filed last week with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company said it had aggressive plans for growth across its stores, catalogs and Internet channels.

Jos. A. Bank opened 21 stores last year, bringing its total to 117. It plans to open at least 20 more this year and 30 in 2003. Its stores are in the Northeast, Midwest, South and Mid-Atlantic.

The company said it intends to grow catalog/Internet sales through increased marketing and plans for an enhanced Web site.

In other news, Right Start Inc. changed its name to Fao Inc. (FAOO); Xchange Inc. changed its ticker name from EXAP to EXAPE; Telespectrum Worldwide changed its ticker name from TLSP to TLSPE and Spiegel changed from SPGLA to SPGLE.


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