• Total Q3 sales down to $703.9m
  • Gross margin increases 200 basis points
  • SG&A expenses down $27.1 during the quarter


Department store operator The Bon-Ton Stores narrowed its third quarter net loss after slashing costs, but saw sales decline in the period.

The company's net loss totalled $4.2m, compared with a net loss of $14.3m for the third quarter of fiscal 2008.

However, same-store sales decreased 2.6% in the quarter and total sales fell 2.9% to $703.9m.

Year-to-date same-store sales decreased 6.9% and year-to-date total sales fell 6.7% to $1.96bn.

Bon-Ton said gross margin rate for the third quarter of fiscal 2009 increased 200 basis points to 37.6% of net sales compared with 35.6% in the third quarter of fiscal 2008, reflecting a decreased net markdown rate and increased net markup.

SG&A expenses in the third quarter of fiscal 2009 decreased $27.1m to $234.8m compared with $261.9m.

The company revised its full-year 2009 guidance for EBITDA to a range of $180m to $200m. Same-store sales decreased in the range of 5.0% to 6.5%.

Bud Bergren, president and CEO, said: "Our third quarter financial performance reflects the benefit of initiatives we implemented in 2008 and 2009. We were pleased with the sustained improvement of our sales trend throughout the quarter, which included a comparable store sales increase of 3.1% in the month of October, as well as a 200 basis point gross margin improvement in the third quarter which we attribute to well-managed inventory levels and reduced levels of clearance merchandise in our assortment."

Click here to view the company's full third quarter earnings announcement.