Bakers Narrows Loss in Q1

Gross-margin improvements helped slim down losses at Bakers Footwear Group Inc. during the first quarter.

The St. Louis-based retailer announced today that it narrowed its first-quarter loss by 43 percent to $2.8 million, or 39 cents a share, compared with last year’s loss of $4.9 million, or 70 cents, for the same period.

Bakers’ sales inched up 3 percent for the quarter to $45 million, versus the year-ago quarter’s $43.5 million. Comparable-store sales increased by 4.8 percent, contrasting Bakers’ 11.1 percent same-store-sales slide in the first quarter of 2008.

“During the quarter, we advanced the key merchandising, expense and inventory management priorities we set for our company with positive results,” Peter Edison, Bakers’ chairman and CEO, said during a conference call. “We continue to believe the ongoing tough consumer environment has aided us in attracting new customers who seek fashion at more appealing price points.”

Edison pointed to opportunities for Bakers store growth over the remainder of the year, “as many other retailers have announced significant store closings.” The company, which has 239 stores, plans to add two locations during the second quarter, while limiting capital expenditures to $1 million during fiscal 2009.

Also Monday, the company reiterated its continued liquidity liability in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, noting that as of May 2, 2009, Bakers had negative working capital of $15.5 million, unused borrowing capacity under its revolving credit facility of $300,000, and shareholders’ equity had declined to $8 million.

In the filing, Bakers said it “continues to face considerable liquidity constraints,” but also said it “expects to achieve its planned sales and maintain adequate levels of liquidity for the remainder of fiscal year 2009.”

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