• Net income rose 62.3% to $44m
  • Total sales edged up just 0.2%
  • Comparable store sales rose 1.9% 

Strong sales of its exclusive fashion brands, including Liz Claiborne and MNG by Mango, have helped US department store retailer JC Penney Company Inc to a 62% hike in third quarter profit.

The Plano, Texas-based company said net income rose 62.3% to $44m or US$0.19 per share in the three months to 30 October, from $27m or $0.11 per share a year earlier.

“We planned for our new merchandising initiatives to begin to take hold in the second half, and it’s playing out this way,” said chairman and CEO Myron E (Mike) Ullman III.

“In addition to the highly successful launch of the iconic Liz Claiborne brand, which is now exclusive to JCPenney, we have seen clear signs of strength in key businesses. At the same time, our strengths in sourcing, and planning and allocation have allowed us to offer very sharp price points and to flow inventory into our stores in a way that reflects the ongoing trend of customers buying closer to need.

“Even including the impact of our strategic decision to wind down our catalog business, our improving sales combined with our focus on managing expenses allowed us to maintain strong profitability,” he added.

Total sales edged up just 0.2% for the quarter, hit by the company’s decision to discontinue its Big Book catalogues this year. But comparable store sales rose 1.9% over last year, and internet sales increased 3.0%.

The retailer, which operates over 1,100 department stores, said it expects the fourth quarter and holiday season “to remain highly promotional.”

Fourth quarter same-store sales are expected to rise 3-4%, but gross margins are seen “modestly lower” than last year’s quarterly high. The company reiterated its full-year forecast for same-store sales to increase low single digits and earnings to be in the range of $1.40 to $1.50 per share.