• Full-year profit jumped 25.6% to $25m
  • Net sales rose 4.6% to $1.23bn
  • Gross margin improved to 27.8% 

Off-price fashion retailer Stein Mart has seen its full-year and fourth-quarter profits surge, boosted by increased sales and lower markdowns.

The company said net income jumped 25.6% to US$25m for the year to 2 February, compared to $19.9m in the same period last year.

Net sales rose 4.6% to $1.23bn from $1.18bn last year, while comparable store sales climbed 2.7%. Gross margin improved to 27.8% from 27.1% last year, helped by lower markdowns resulting from its strategy of reducing coupons applicable to its regular-priced merchandise.

During the quarter, net income more than doubled to reach $13.5m over $5.9m the year before. Sales reached $368.6m, up 11.4% over $331m in the prior year and comparable store sales increased 6%.

The announcement was a restatement of its finances, helping it to regain compliance with the Nasdaq Stock Market after it did not file its quarterly report on time for the third quarter, ended 27 October.

"I am extremely proud of our 2012 sales performance which drove outstanding bottom line results. We did this by returning to those things that made this company great, including a compelling merchandise assortment, selectively lowering merchandise prices and controlling regular-price couponing," said CEO Jay Stein.

"We are thankful that the financial restatement is now behind us and we continue to be keenly focused on running the business."

Looking forward, Stein Mart said it aims to build on the sales increases last year by deepening its relationship with existing customers, attracting new customers and increasing its share of their spending. 

The company also plans to launch its new e-commerce business in mid to late 2013 and transition its supply chain distribution centres from third-party to company-operated locations in the second quarter. As a result, Stein Mart expects to incur $3m in start-up costs this year.