Sharper Image, JC Penney Lead DM Winners for January

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The DM industry got the year off to a good start as winners outnumbered losers among leading direct marketers reporting January sales results yesterday.


Helping lead the way was Sharper Image, San Francisco, which posted record sales for January, the fourth quarter and fiscal year. Total company sales increased 40 percent in January. Catalog sales rose 33 percent, and Internet sales ballooned 51 percent.


In the quarter ended Jan. 31, company sales climbed 29 percent. Catalog sales were up 14 percent while Internet sales increased 34 percent. For the fiscal year ended Jan. 31, company sales increased 26 percent. Catalog sales improved 15 percent, and Internet sales rose 37 percent.


Other firms reporting positive numbers included:


· JC Penney Co., Plano, TX, reported that along with a comparable department store sales increase of 6.4 percent in the four weeks ended Jan. 24, the company's catalog/Internet sales rose 9.8 percent.


· Sears, Roebuck and Co., Hoffman Estates, IL, said comparable domestic store revenue increased 4.6 percent in the four weeks ended Jan. 31.


· Limited Brands, Columbus, OH, reported a comparable store sales increase of 23 percent during the four weeks ended Jan. 31 compared to the four weeks ended Feb. 1, 2003. Net sales reached $677.7 million compared to sales of $563.9 million last year. The company also reported a comparable store sales increase of 4 percent for the year ended Jan. 31. Net sales totaled $8.93 billion, an increase of 6 percent compared to sales of $8.45 billion last year.


· The Neiman Marcus Group Inc., Dallas, reported a 15.4 percent increase in total revenue during the four weeks ended Jan. 31 compared with the period ending Feb. 1, 2003. The company said that comparable revenue at Neiman Marcus Direct for the four-week January period rose 20.7 percent. Neiman Marcus Direct's second-quarter fiscal year 2004 revenue was 18.7 percent above last year's total.


· JoS. A. Bank Clothiers Inc., Hampstead, MD, said total sales for the fiscal month ended Jan. 31 improved 36.4 percent from the comparable prior-year period, representing the best four-week January sales in its history. Combined catalog and Internet sales increased 27.9 percent. Total sales in the fourth quarter ended Jan. 31 rose 29.5 percent, and total sales for the year ended Jan. 31 were up 23.1 percent. Combined catalog and Internet sales in the fourth quarter and fiscal year ended Jan. 31 improved 15.6 percent and 16.8 percent, respectively.


· Urban Outfitters Inc., Philadelphia, generated record sales in the fourth quarter and fiscal year ended Jan. 31. Total sales for the quarter rose 50 percent versus that quarter last year. Direct-to-consumer sales skyrocketed 110 percent in the quarter. Sales in the year ended Jan. 31 climbed 30 percent, and direct sales were up 61 percent.


· Nordstrom Inc., Seattle, announced preliminary sales of $355.3 million in the four weeks ended Jan. 31, up 13.5 percent compared with the four weeks ended Feb. 1, 2003. Same-store sales rose 8.7 percent.


· Abercrombie & Fitch, New Albany, OH, posted a 22 percent rise in net sales for the four weeks ended Jan. 31. For the 2003 fiscal year, net sales increased 7 percent. However, comparable-store sales dropped 9 percent for the year.


· Chico's FAS Inc., Fort Myers, FL, said sales in the four weeks ended Jan. 31 jumped 49.8 percent. Total sales for the fourth quarter ended Jan. 31 were up 55.8 percent, and total sales for the year ended Jan. 31 increased 44.7 percent.


· Brookstone Inc., Nashua, NH, said that same-store sales in the fourth quarter ended Jan. 31 climbed 12.6 percent over that period last year. Total sales for the 13-week period jumped 18.3 percent. Direct marketing sales rose 26.6 percent. During the full year ended Jan. 31, total sales surged 15.5 percent as same-store sales climbed 11.2 percent. DM sales rose 15.3 percent.


· Restoration Hardware Inc., Corte Madera, CA, recorded a January comparable-store sales increase of 23 percent. Revenue for the direct-to-customer division, which includes catalog and Internet sales, skyrocketed 88 percent in January. Net revenue in the fourth quarter ended Jan. 31 was up 6 percent while comparable-store sales rose 0.7 percent and DTC revenue ballooned 50 percent to $27 million from $18 million in the prior-year period. For the year ended Jan. 31, net revenue rose 10 percent and comparable-store sales increased 5.2 percent as revenue in the DTC division improved 52 percent.


· The Bombay Company Inc., Fort Worth, TX, said late Wednesday that total revenue rose 13 percent in the four weeks ended Jan. 31. However, sales for stores open more than 12 months fell 3.5 percent. In the fourth quarter, total revenue rose 12 percent and same-store sales increased 1 percent. For the year, total revenue was up 21 percent and same-store sales increased 13 percent.


However, The Spiegel Group, Downers Grove, IL, continued its sales slide.


Net sales were down 27 percent for the four weeks ended Jan. 31. Comparable-store sales for its Eddie Bauer division fell 7 percent in the four-week period. Net sales for January include $3.8 million in liquidation sales resulting from the sale and transfer of inventory in early January to an independent liquidator in conjunction with the closing of 29 Eddie Bauer stores. Excluding the liquidation sales, Spiegel Group's net sales from retail and outlet stores fell 32 percent. Its catalog and e-commerce sales plummeted 28 percent for the month.


Also reporting negative recent results:


· The Talbots Inc., Hingham, MA, said that total company sales in the four weeks ended Jan. 31 fell 5 percent as comparable-store sales decreased 11.8 percent for the month. In the 13 weeks ended Jan. 31, sales were about even at $431.5 million. Catalog sales decreased 12 percent. Sales for the 52 weeks ended Jan. 31 were up 2 percent but catalog sales dropped 3 percent for the year.


· United Retail Group Inc., Rochelle Park, NJ, produced total sales of $22.8 million in January, down from $24.4 million in January 2003 as comparable-store sales fell 5 percent in the month. For the fourth quarter, total sales reached $101.4 million, down from $105.7 million as comparable-store sales decreased 2 percent. For the fiscal year, total sales were $396.3 million compared with $432 million last year, as comparable-store sales dropped 7 percent.


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