Bakers Sales Up

Bakers Footwear Group Inc. narrowed its loss in the third quarter, thanks to increased comparable-store sales.

For the period ended Oct. 30, the St. Louis-based company’s net loss was $8.9 million, or $1.03 a share, compared to a net loss of $10.2 million, or $1.38, in the same period last year.

Net sales inched up 4 percent to $40.6 million, from $39 million, while comparable-store sales advanced 5.9 percent, reversing a decrease of 5.1 percent in the year-ago period.

Selling, general and administrative expenses as a percentage of sales also improved slightly to 33 percent, from 34.6 percent.

Peter Edison, chairman and CEO of Bakers, said in a call with analysts that Bakers’ performance was driven by continued strength in boots and dress shoes, as well as a strong response to two exclusive and higher-priced private label brands, H by Halston and Wild Pair. (During the quarter, Bakers rolled out the full line of H by Halston and started selling Wild Pair in its branded stores.)

Edison noted that comps upped 4.8 percent in the first six weeks of the fourth quarter, giving the firm confidence that “strategic new product and category initiatives will lead to increases in sales and operating performance during the remainder of the holiday season [and going into] 2011.”

“[Going forward,] what we’re working on strategically as a company is to build sales, not squeeze margins. So we see our margins as basically holding,” added Edison.

Bakers ended the quarter with $137,000 in cash and revolving credit of $17.5 million. The firm said it has adequate liquidity to fund anticipated working capital requirements and expects to be in compliance with its financial covenants through the next 12 months.

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