Financial Report: Blair Profitable on Reduced Circ

Warren, PA-based apparel and home products mailer Blair Corp. (Amex: BL) posted lower first-quarter sales but an improved bottom line thanks largely to less prospecting and stricter credit requirements.

Net sales fell 16%, to $107.6 million for the three months ended March 31. Net income rose 14%, to $650,000 from $571,000 for the first quarter of last year.

About a third of the $21 million decline in revenue resulted from the previously announced shutdown of the Crossing Pointe women’s apparel catalog, completed in March. Another $5 million of the sales decline was due to reduced prospecting; $2 million resulted from more stringent credit standards; and the balance was attributed to a general softness in response rates.

The reduction in prospecting was aligned with Blair’s business decision to specifically target catalog mailings to its core customer base. Blair says softness in response rates is attributable, in part, to changing economic conditions, including higher home heating and gasoline costs driven by the rise in oil prices.