Regional department store chain and apparel retailer Gottschalks Inc on Friday revealed it swung to a fourth quarter and full year net loss due to hefty charges related to a store-closing programme.

The California-based operator of nearly 80 stores posted a net loss of $4.6 million for the quarter ended February 1 compared to a year-ago profit of $10.4m on the back of special charges of $20.1m.

For the full year it posted a net loss of $12m versus $0.4m last year while total sales fell 2.7 per cent to $691.4m from $710.7m with same-store sales down 0.8 per cent.

Earlier this year, the firm unveiled plans to aggressively pursue opportunities with its private-label brands and launch a new private label for kids in a bid to boost private-label sales by 15 per cent to $80m in 2003.