Bakers Widens Loss

Increased markdowns led Bakers Footwear Group Inc. to widen its loss in the third quarter.

The firm now expects fourth-quarter comparable-store sales to be down and will cut costs by as much as $10 million to improve margins going forward.

For the quarter ended Oct. 29, Bakers lost $10.2 million, or $1.10 a share, compared with a net loss of $8.9 million, or $1.03, in the same quarter a year ago.

Comp sales advanced 1 percent, while multichannel sales rose 37.4 percent. Still, total revenue slipped 1 percent to $40.2 million, from $40.6 million.

Gross profit slipped to 12.3 percent of sales, compared with 15.7 percent a year ago, reflecting increased markdowns on fall merchandise.

Meanwhile, selling, general and administrative expenses rose to 34.5 percent of sales, from 33 percent a year ago.

Peter Edison, Bakers’ chairman and CEO, called the results “disappointing” in a statement, adding that they reflected a challenging dress boot season, which led to increased markdowns and operating losses compared with the prior year.

“As we begin the fourth quarter, the boot category has remained difficult, which has led to a 5.5 percent decrease in comparable-store sales for the first six weeks of the quarter through Dec. 10,” Edison said.

He added, “Looking ahead to 2012, we are implementing a $10 million margin improvement and cost-reduction program focused on improving cash flow and liquidity.”

Bakers improved its cash flow on a year-over-year basis, although it still remains negative. Its cash balance stood at $141,000 at the end of the period.

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