Foot Locker Earnings Rise in Q1

Reflecting strength in the athletic market, Foot Locker Inc.’s profits surged by 90 percent during the first quarter.

The New York-based chain reported on Thursday that its net income hit $31 million, or 20 cents a share, for the quarter ended May 2, compared with $3 million, or 2 cents, in the year-ago period. The first quarter of 2008 included store-closing expenses of $3 million, and a nonimpairment charge of $15 million.

The company’s revenues decreased by 7 percent to $1.2 billion during the first quarter, while same-store sales dipped 2.4 percent.

Foot Locker also decreased its administrative expenses by $21 million from the year-ago period.

In a statement, Foot Locker Chairman and CEO Matthew Serra attributed the strong earnings performance to the company’s “ability to improve our gross margin rate and reduce our operating expenses, as our sales were affected by the difficult economic environment.”

During the first quarter, the company also opened its first CCS store, after acquiring the direct-to-consumer skate retailer from Delia’s for $102 million last fall. That shop, located in Santa Monica, Calif., will be followed by a second location, opening at the Garden State Plaza mall in Paramus, N.J., on June 5.

“We have plans to very gingerly roll out CCS stores,” Serra said during the company’s annual meeting at Foot Locker’s headquarters here last week. “Action sports is a very fast-growing business. We made that acquisition because we wanted to be in it quickly.”

Although the CCS business currently includes just skateboarding footwear, apparel and equipment, Serra said he hopes to add snowboarding down the road. However, he declined to put a dollar value or size estimate on the CCS business for 2009. “It’s too soon to tell,” he said. 

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