• Q1 loss of $10.8m versus $17.8m 
  • Sales fell 11.4% to $47.4m
  • Company reduced lead times 

US women's wear retailer Cache had a "disappointing start to the year", despite seeing its first-quarter loss narrow on the back of lower charges.

The group's net loss of US$10.8m included a $134,000 charge in employee separation charges. Its net loss in the prior year period included a $10.1m charge, related to an increase in the tax valuation allowance, and a $1.5m in staff separation costs.

Sales declined 11.4% to $47.4m during the 13 weeks to 29 March from $53.5m in the same period of the prior year.

Comparable store sales fell 8.9%, reflecting the difficult selling season with the decline in mall traffic, adverse weather conditions and the shift of Easter to the second quarter.

Gross margin, meanwhile, fell to 27.3% from 31.7%, primarily due to the leverage impact of occupancy costs on reduced sales.

"We had a disappointing start to the year with strength across our dress assortments more than offset by too narrow of an assortment in key casual bottoms, and the decision not to move forward with certain casual and accessories offerings that were inconsistent with our brand positioning," said chairman and CEO Jay Margolis.

But, he added, the company reduced lead-times during the quarter, to allow it to be more nimble and react faster to fashion trends. 

Cache closed eight stores during the period, taking its total to 242.

"As we look ahead, we remain confident in our strategies and our ability to move our business forward in a positive direction," Margolis added.