Financial Reports: Charming Shoppes, Hanover, Talbots, DWR

Record 1Q Income for Charming Shoppes
First-quarter net income for Bensalem, PA-based women’s apparel merchant Charming Shoppes (Nasdaq: CHRS) increased 7%, to a record $32.1 million for the three months ended April 29. The company, which acquired multititle mailer Crosstown Traders last year (see “Charming Deal for Crosstown”) attributes the lift to increases in gross margin for its stores, which include the Lane Bryant and Fashion Bug chains.

Net sales shot up 22%, to $734.9 million, compared to $603.4 million last year. Net sales for the direct-to-consumer segment, consisting primarily of the Crosstown Traders brands, were $107.4 million. Retail sales rose 4%, to $627.5 million. Comparable store sales increased 1%.

The Crosstown Traders brands include Brownstone Studio, Coward Show, Lew Magram, and Old Pueblo Traders.

Despite Rise in Sales, Hanover Ends Quarter in the Red
First-quarter revenue rose 11% at Weehawken, NJ-based multititle mailer Hanover Direct (Pink sheets: HNVD.PK), to $100.3 million for the three months ended April 1. But the company nonetheless loss $1.8 million for the quarter; for the first quarter of last year, Hanover had posted net income of $3.1 million.

The company attributes the revenue growth largely to increases in both catalog circulation and response rates. The Domestications bedding catalog and Silhouettes catalog of plus-size women’s apparel enjoyed increased demand. Home decor title The Company Store and menswear book International Male, however, saw declines. The drop in Company Store business, along with “the continuation of diminished productivity in the distribution center, which started in the fall of 2005 and has led to higher product fulfillment costs,” and higher postage and paper costs, accounted for the red ink.

Net Income Down 21% at The Talbots
While first-quarter sales for Hingham, MA-based apparel cataloger/retailer The Talbots (NYSE: TLB) increased 1%, to $453 million for the 13 weeks ended April 29, net income tumbled 21%, to $27.4 million.

Retail sales increased 2%, to $384.9 million; direct marketing sales declined just slightly, from $68.4 million a year ago to $68.1 million. The company’s first-quarter results do not include sales from women’s apparel cataloger/retailer J. Jill Group, which Talbots acquired earlier this month for $517 million, or $24.05 per share.

Direct Sales Tumble 18% at Design Within Reach
First-quarter direct sales for San Francisco-based modern furniture cataloger/retailer Design Within Reach (Nasdaq: DWRI) fell 18%, to $10.7 million for the three months ended April 1. The company blames the drop on a reduction in discounts compared with the first quarter of last year.

Total first-quarter fell 1.4%, to $35.0 million. And the company posted a net loss of $4.2 million, compared with net income of $884,000 last year.

“Having been with the company since 2002,” CEO Ray Brunner said in a statement, “I have a strong understanding of our core competencies and firmly believe that our problem is not at the top line, but an expense and control issue. Over the past several years, we have veered away from some of the basic tenets that made our business so successful by introducing products with lower unit costs and lower inventory turnover, and we have invested heavily in overhead. We are currently examining every line item to return to the fundamentals of cost control and bring DWR back to profitability.”

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