• Comparable store sales up 3%
  • Net less halves
  • Company revises full year estimates

The Bon-Ton Stores, Inc. said today that it had reduced its net loss by close to 50% as sales and operating income showed improvements.

The company said that first quarter comparable store sales increased 3%. Total sales increased 2.6% to $661.4m, compared with $644.5m for the same period last year.

Operating income for the first quarter increased $29.2m to $5.6m, compared with an operating loss of $23.6m reported in the first quarter of fiscal 2009.

Net loss totalled $23.5m the first quarter of fiscal 2010 compared with a net loss of $45.4m for the first quarter of fiscal 2009.

Bud Bergren, president and CEO, said: "We are very pleased with our first quarter results and the performance of our entire team.

"We also reduced selling, general and administrative expense both in dollars and as a percent to sales, demonstrating our continued focus on expense control and promoting efficiencies throughout the company."

Bergren continued: "Overall, the initiatives implemented over the last two years continued to drive solid performance in the first quarter as customers responded favourably to our merchandise assortment and tremendous value. We believe these initiatives will also provide for growth opportunities and continued EBITDA and earnings improvement throughout this year."

Looking ahead Keith Plowman, executive vice president and CFO, said: "We are revising our full year 2010 guidance for EBITDA to a range of $235m to $250m and for income per diluted share to a range of $0.80 to $1.60.