Staples offers bright spot among mixed retail results

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With the exception of office supplies giant Staples, several multichannel retailers reported mixed results this week: overall sales increased for most, while same-store or direct channel results didn't fare as well.

Staples Inc.'s net income rose 29 percent year-over-year for a total of $290 million and earnings per share, on a diluted basis, increased 30 percent to 39 cents. During the third quarter ended Oct. 28 company sales grew 12 percent for a total of $4.8 billion. Comparable-store sales increased 4 percent during the same period. The Framingham, MA-based office supplier's worldwide e-commerce sales grew 27 percent for a total of $1.2 billion.

Meanwhile, The Home Depot Inc. reported sales for the third quarter totaling $23.1 billion, an 11.3 percent increase. Comparable-store sales during the same period declined 5.1 percent.

The Atlanta-based home improvement merchant pointed to a significant slowdown in the home improvement market due to a lagging overall economy, declining home prices and slowing housing turnover as a reason for the poor same-store performance.

A bright spot in Home Depot's results was its HD Supply division, which saw sales grow by 159 percent for a total of $3.5 billion.

Eddie Bauer Holdings Inc. said revenues for the third quarter ended Sept. 30 totaled $211.3 million compared to $217.3 million last year. Comparable-store sales for the same period declined 1.5 percent.

However, Redmond, WA-based Eddie Bauer's comparable-store sales during September increased by 5.9 percent, driven in part by higher promotional activity compared to the same period last year. Fourth-quarter-to-date comparable store sales through Nov. 11 increased 1.6 percent.

Net merchandise sales for the period included $149.5 million of sales from the company's retail and outlet stores and $49.8 million of sales from its direct channel, including its catalogs and Web sites. This compares to $153.1 million of sales from retail and outlet stores and $51.6 million of sales from its direct channel in the same period last year.

For the nine months ended Sept. 30, revenues totaled $631.5 million compared to $683 million in the same period last year. Comparable-store sales declined 5.6 percent during the same period.

Net merchandise sales for the year-to-date period included $429.2 million of sales from the company's retail and outlet stores and $162.3 million of sales from its direct channel. This compares to $466.6 million of sales from the company's retail and outlet stores and $174 million of sales from its direct channel in the same period last year.

Eddie Bauer was sold this week to Sun Capital and Golden Gate Capital, both private equity firms.

Harry & David Holdings Inc. reported net sales for the 14-week period ended Sept. 30, the company's first fiscal quarter, totaled $65.9 million, which is a 14.2 percent gain over last year.

Medford, OR-based Harry & David's net loss for the fiscal first quarter was $5.9 million compared with a net loss of $17.3 million reported in the same period last year.

Net sales in the company's direct marketing segment, which include catalog, Internet, business-to-business and outbound telemarketing sales as well as delivery income, totaled $27.8 million in the 14 week period ended Sept. 30, up 6.5 percent from the 13-week period ended Sept. 24, 2005. Excluding the 14th week, sales were relatively flat.

Net sales in the Jackson & Perkins segment decreased 35.1 percent for a total of $3.7 million due to later timing of royalty income in the wholesale division and a 29 percent decrease in catalog circulation.

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