• Full-year loss widens to $21.6m
  • Sales climbed 1.2% to $2.92bn
  • Q4 net income fell 4.9% to US$74.4m

Department store operator Bon-Ton Stores has reported lower fourth quarter profits and a wider full-year loss after it was hit by a number of one-off costs.

Net loss reached US$21.6m for the 12 months to 2 February, compared with $12.1m the year before.

The York, Pennsylvania-based company today (12 March) said the loss included a $7.1m charge for fees associated with a senior notes exchange and $7.9m in severance-related costs. 

Net sales climbed 1.2% to $2.92bn against $2.88bn the prior year, while comparable stores sales edged up 0.5%. Gross margin slipped to 35.8% from 36% the year before.

Over the fourth quarter, net income slipped 4.9% to $74.4m from $78.2m last year, while net sales rose 3.2% to $1.02bn. But comparable store sales were up 1.0%.

However, president and CEO Brendan Hoffman said: "We were pleased with our fourth quarter results and our accomplishments throughout 2012. We sequentially improved the business each quarter through a number of key initiatives, including a better balanced merchandise assortment, more disciplined inventory management, enhanced marketing efforts and upgrades to our e-commerce business."

"As we look ahead, we are excited for continued progress on our initiatives as we gain additional insights into the business. We believe we laid the foundation in 2012, which we intend to enhance with new strategies, paving the way for sustainable long-term growth."

Looking forward, the company expects fiscal 2013 diluted earnings per share to range from $0.40 to $1.00, while comparable store sales are likely to increase 2-3.5%.