• Full year net sales reach US$185.4m
  • Net loss falls to $9.1m
  • CEO expects year of solid improvement

Increased sales at Bakers Footwear Group have helped it reduce its net losses for the year and a strong fourth quarter, the company said, placed it well for a year of "solid improvement" in 2010.

Full-year net sales were US$185.4 million, up from $183.7m last year. Same-store sales increased 1.3%, compared to an 0.5% increase in fiscal 2008.

The company said that its operating loss decreased to $6.5m, compared to an operating loss of $11.8m in fiscal 2008. Net loss was $9.1m or $1.24 per share, compared to a net loss of $15m, or $2.13 per share in fiscal 2008.

The company also added that for the first seven weeks of fiscal 2010 ended 20 March 2010, comparable store sales increased 2.3% compared to an increase of 3.8% in the same period last year.

For the fourth quarter, net sales were $57.6m, an increase of 3.9%. Operating income was $6.1m, compared to $1.3m in the fourth quarter 2008. Net income was $5.6m compared to $0.5m in the fourth quarter last year.

Peter Edison, chairman and CEO said: "We are pleased with our fourth quarter performance, which included a 3.9% increase in comparable store sales, a 500 basis point increase in gross profit margin and a dramatic improvement in net income compared to the fourth quarter last year.

"Our results demonstrate the progress of our turnaround strategies that are focused on delivering compelling fashion and value to our customers and increasing inventory turns through narrow and deep assortments. We are equally pleased with our fiscal 2009 results. Fiscal 2009 marked our second consecutive year of comparable store gains. We generated positive adjusted EBITDA of $3.8m and improved our bottom line by $5.9m."

"As we look ahead, we believe we are well positioned and expect another year of solid improvement in fiscal 2010," Edison said. "Our goals for the year are to pay off our subordinated secured term loan and continue to improve cash flow, as we drive increases in comparable store sales and gross profit margin while targeting a further reduction in expenses. In support of our expectations our spring comparable store sales are up 2.3% for the first seven weeks of the year. We remain confident that our strategies will continue to benefit all Bakers stakeholders."