Financial Reports: Systemax, Charming Shoppes, Blair

Solid Quarter, 2006 for Systemax
Sales at manufacturer/marketer Systemax were up for the fourth quarter and full year ended Dec. 31. Net sales for the fourth quarter increased 11%, to $648 million, while income for the same period more than doubled, to $8.0 million up from $3.4 million. Internet sales rose 16%, to $235 million.

For the full year, the Port Washington, NY-based computer and industrial supplies firm posted an 11% rise in net sales, to $2.3 billion, up from $2.1 billion in 2005. Net income nearly quadrupled, to $45.1 million from $11.4 million in 2005. Internet sales jumped 26%, to $819 million.

4Q Direct Sales Down at Charming Shoppes
Fourth-quarter net income for women’s apparel cataloger/retailer Charming Shoppes rose 30%, to $24.9 million from $19.2 million. Officials at the Bensalem, PA-based company attributed the increase in net income to the retail stores segment, which performed with improved gross and operating margins. Net sales for the quarter increased 9%, to $874.0 million for the three months ended Feb. 3. Sales for the company’s stores rose 13%, to $725.8 million, though same-store sales dipped 1%.

Fourth-quarter sales in the company’s direct-to-consumer division, which consists primarily of the Crosstown Traders catalogs, fell 5%, to $148.2 million. The sales decline is attributed to below-plan performance in the apparel-related catalogs as a result of a decline in response rates from the company’s core customer mailing list, as well as decreased circulation for prospecting. Crosstown’s titles include Bedford Fair, Old Pueblo Traders, Monterey Bay Clothing Co., and Willow Ridge.

Last year Crosstown consolidated its Connecticut and California apparel catalog offices into its Tucson home office. According to a statement, “this consolidation has had a greater-than-anticipated negative impact on apparel catalog sales. Sales at the company’s Figi’s food and gift catalog performed on pla, and comprise the majority of fourth-quarter sales and profits for the company’s direct-to-consumer business.”

For the year ended Feb. 3, net income was $108.9 million, up 10% from $99.4 million the previous year. Net sales increased 11%, to nearly $3.07 billion. Retail sales rose 7%, to $2.64 billion. The increase was driven by sales increases at each of the company’s retail brands and related e-commerce businesses, the addition of an outlet business, and the addition of the 53rd week. Same-store sales for retail brands inched up 1%. Net sales for the direct-to-consumer segment soared 43%, to $427.8 million up from $298.9 million.

Blair Releases Glum Numbers for First Two Months of 2007
Because shareholders for apparel and home goods cataloger Blair Corp. will soon vote on the merger of Blair and Appleseed’s Topco, a subsidiary of Golden Gate Capital, the company released financial results from the first two months of 2007. January and February sales for the Warren, PA-based cataloger fell 27%, to $47.1 million from $64.5 million for the first two months of 2006. That’s nearly 16% short of expectations.

Blair reduced its 2007 circulation plan to be more efficient with its selling expenses, according to a release, but customer demand in 2007 has been even softer than expected. During the first two months, the merchandise offering was predominantly spring apparel, “and our customer has been slow to respond to these products during this year’s abnormally cold winter months,” according to a statement. The company also experienced some fulfillment difficulties as a result of the implementation of a new warehouse management software system.

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