Bakers Narrows Loss

Bakers Footwear Group Inc. narrowed its first-quarter loss after scoring increases in total revenue, comparable-store sales and gross profit margin.

For the period ended April 30, the retailer lost $2.5 million, or 27 cents a share, compared with a loss of $3.5 million, or 47 cents, in the same period a year ago.

Net sales advanced 8 percent to $47 million, from $43.5 million, and comp-store sales increased 9.3 percent, compared with a decline of 1.6 percent in the first quarter of 2010.

Gross profit margin expanded 140 basis points, thanks to effective leveraging of buying and occupancy costs, while selling, general and administrative expenses declined 70 basis points.

Peter Edison, chairman and CEO of Bakers, said in a statement that the first quarter’s performance was driven by store customers’ positive response to dress shoes, wedges and open-toe sandals.

“Our exclusive brands — H by Halston and Wild Pair — continued to grow and assisted us to broaden our customer reach and raise average unit retail. We ended the first quarter with a 17 percent increase in inventory, which we believe is supporting our sales momentum into the second quarter,” Edison said.

He added that the second quarter is off to a good start, with a 12.3 percent increase in comps for the first six weeks of the period.

Bakers ended the quarter with cash and cash equivalents of $214,000, up from $149,000 a year ago, and long-term debt of $8.1 million.

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