US women's wear retailer Christopher & Banks says it expects second quarter sales to decline on the back of fewer stores - but that comparable store sales are likely to rise as its turnaround efforts take hold.

The company is forecasting a 5-5.5% rise in same-store sales in the quarter ended 28 July. It has seen improved sell-through rates, more shoppers have led to a higher number of transactions per store, and a slight increase in average units sold.

But the fact it operates 14% fewer stores than last year is likely to see overall sales fall to $102-103m from $105.6m.

"While we remain in the early stages of our turnaround plan, our initiatives are gaining traction," said president and CEO Joel Waller.

"Our new merchandising and marketing strategies are beginning to show progress. Meanwhile, strategic initiatives underway to reinvigorate sales through in-store merchandise presentation and optimisation of our selling staff are also yielding improved performance.

"We believe that the implementation of these strategies led to the significant sequential improvement in comparable store sales and gross margin results.

"We believe that as we continue to execute our turnaround strategy and strengthen our market position, Christopher & Banks will be positioned to deliver improved sales and earnings results."

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Christopher & Banks Provides Outlook for Second Fiscal Quarter
- Strategic Marketing and Merchandising Initiatives Showing Progress -

- Second Quarter Earnings to be Announced August 29, 2012 -

MINNEAPOLIS--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Christopher & Banks Corporation (NYSE: CBK), a specialty women's apparel retailer, today announced updated financial expectations for its second fiscal quarter ending July 28, 2012.

Comparable store sales for the second fiscal quarter, as compared to the same period last year, are anticipated to increase 5% to 5.5%. The increase in comparable store sales reflects an improved sell-through rate of merchandise and increased traffic resulting in a higher number of transactions per store, and a slight increase in average units sold offset somewhat by a modest decrease in average total sales per transaction.

Sales for the quarter are expected to be $102 million to $103 million, as compared to sales of $105.6 million for the comparable period last year, despite operating on average 113, or 14%, fewer stores during the quarter as compared to the same period last year.

Total gross margin for the second fiscal quarter is expected to be between 26.2% and 26.4%, compared to last year's rate of 32.3% for the comparable period and 23.1% in the first quarter of fiscal 2012. The sequential improvement is the result of both lower occupancy expense as well as positive leverage related to the higher sales.

Average in-store inventory per store is expected to be up approximately mid-single digits at the end of the second fiscal quarter, as compared to the same period last year. At the end of the first fiscal quarter, average in-store inventory per store was up 22% year-over-year.

The Company expects cash and cash equivalents to be in the range of $39 million to $40 million at the end of the second fiscal quarter, as compared to $33.7 million at the end of this year's first fiscal quarter.

Joel Waller, President and Chief Executive Officer, commented, "While we remain in the early stages of our turnaround plan, our initiatives are gaining traction. Our new merchandising and marketing strategies are beginning to show progress. Meanwhile, strategic initiatives underway to reinvigorate sales through in-store merchandise presentation and optimization of our selling staff are also yielding improved performance. We believe that the implementation of these strategies led to the significant sequential improvement in comparable store sales and gross margin results. We believe that as we continue to execute our turnaround strategy and strengthen our market position, Christopher & Banks will be positioned to deliver improved sales and earnings results."

An investor presentation providing an overview of the Company's strategic initiatives and recent performance will be available later today on the Christopher & Banks website at www.christopherandbanks.com, following its filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The Company will provide further commentary on its second fiscal quarter as part of its second quarter 2012 earnings release and conference call which is scheduled for August 29, 2012. Further details regarding the conference call will be announced on or about August 15, 2012.

About Christopher & Banks

Christopher & Banks Corporation is a Minneapolis-based specialty retailer of women's clothing. As of July 25, 2012, the Company operates 653 stores in 44 states consisting of 386 Christopher & Banks stores, 177 stores in their women's plus size clothing division CJ Banks, 65 dual stores and 25 outlet stores. The Company also operates the www.ChristopherandBanks.com and www.CJBanks.com e-commerce websites.

 

Original source: http://ir.christopherandbanks.com/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=695377