• Q4 net losses narrowed to $13.2m
  • Sales down 2.9% to $575.8m
  • Full-year net losses narrowed to $2m 
  • Sales fell 3.4% to $1.99bn

Plus-size apparel specialist Charming Shoppes narrowed its fourth-quarter loss despite being hit by higher product costs and a challenging promotional environment.

The company recorded a net loss of US$13.2m, narrowing on the $30.4m lost in the fourth-quarter of the prior year. Sales declined 2.9% to $575.8m, which includes the impact of operating 207 fewer stores than in the prior year period. Comparable-store sales increased 1%, which included a 2% increase at Lane Bryant, 5% growth at Catherines, a 2% decline for Fashion Bug and a 17% rise in e-commerce sales.

President and CEO Anthony Romano said: "Our fourth quarter results, however, were below our expectations as the impact of higher product costs and a challenging promotional environment created gross profit pressures, specifically at Lane Bryant. In response, we went on the offensive and chose to offer deeper-than-planned discounts to ensure seasonal unit sell-throughs. Nonetheless, we were able to fully offset the impact of these pressures through reductions in both SG&A and Occupancy and Buying expenses."

Over the full-year, the company recorded a $2m net loss, against a $54m net loss in 2010. Sales declined 3.4% to $1.99bn, while comparable store sales were flat.

The company said that it is in the process of developing a new store design, and continue its plan for three digital launches per year.

It plans to open 20 new stores during 2012, 12 at Lane Bryant and 8 in its outlet channel. It will also look to relocate 25 and refresh 40.